STRETCH: Back and Neck Bridge

bridge*Done regularly, bridges will help you eliminate back and neck pain.

*Experiment carefully with these stretches.  Do not overdo it.  Heed any doubts or concerns you have about doing these safely.  You are responsible for protecting yourself at all times.

*Back Bridge.  Just like when you were a little kid.  Flip your arms up and back, palms down, hands by your ears fingers pointing to your feet.  Now, press down through your arms to your palms and raise your butt off the deck.  Arch your body as much as you can and move your gaze to the floor.  Hold this position.  Initially, hold it for 15s (as you get more comfortable with the stretch, move up to 30s).  Relax, lower your body back to the starting position.  Rest.  Now do the stretch again.

*Neck Bridge.  Once you are comfortable with the back bridge, you are ready to take it to the next level.  The neck bridge will strech and strengthen your neck muscles.  Again, exercise caution, this is your neck we are talking about.  Start out with a back bridge.  Lower your head to the ground.  Keep the weight off of your head and neck with your arms.  Rest your head at the hairline on your mat (naturally, some weight will be transferred to this new point of contact).  Keep your hands in place on the ground.  Slowly roll your head back.  Your goal is to have your nose touch the mat (this will take time, go slowly with this stretch).  You can gently rock back and forth moving your nose closer and closer to the mat.  This will stretch and strengthen your neck muscles.  Again, start off doing this stretch in 15s intervals, then as you get more comfortable with it and as your neck gets stronger, move up to 30s intervals.  When you can touch your nose to the mat and you want to add more muscle to your neck, start working on taking some of the weight off of your arms and adding it to your neck.  With enough neck strength, you can rest all of the weight on your neck, lift your hands off of the ground, and cross them on your chest.

*Results from experimenting with these stretches have been better than expected.  Today, these stretches are part of my regular routine.  I prefer to do them at the end of the day, usually at the end of a work out.

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