Mobility 1 - The Neck
As promised, here is your first installment of the body part-by-body part mobility protocol. These exercises are a series of movements called CARs, or Controlled Articular Rotations, created by Dr. Andreo Spina, a master of movement, mobility and injury prevention who works with professional sports organizations, athletes and performers around the world. I had the pleasure of learning from him in Austin, TX a few years ago and have been using his techniques on myself as well as my clients and in my classes ever since.
These protocols are 100% ESSENTIAL, and here is why.
Bringing movement and fluidity to the joints pre-workout will boost performance no matter what sport - from martial arts, cross fit, cycling and weight training, to yoga and dance.
Joints that are ready to move and react can safeguard against injury.
For those just beginning, they are a great way to initiate movement, not only in the body, but also in the mind. They can spark more movement - and the beginning of a positively life changing habit.
These exercises take less than a minute each to complete and are an uncomplicated way to love yourself. Begin and end the day with this little gift to yourself for a better day and a better night’s sleep. Your joints deserve the love and attention. Moving them fully at least twice a day will help maintain their full movement ability.
Let’s get those joints prepped for exercise (for life)!
We’re starting from top to bottom. First up, the neck. So many of us experience head, neck, shoulder, and overall back pain stemming from a variety of reasons. This could stem from something as seemingly simple as carrying your head even just a hair too far forward, which puts extra weight on your neck and upper back and can eventually lead to discomfort, headaches and an unsightly bump at the back of the neck (gasp!) Giving your neck joints some attention can help relieve some of this pain and serve as a reminder to reset your head to proper positioning, extended directly upward from the tailbone all the way up to the top of the head. To do this, pull your chin back slightly towards your neck and the crown of your head to the sky.
Stand barefoot (unless out and about) with your feet flat on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Spread the floor with your feet and firmly contract all the muscles of your lower body. Keep your arms by your sides and straight. Make tight fists with your hands. Activating the non-working muscles - the muscles of the lower body, core and tightening of the fists send a strong neuromuscular signal to the muscles involved in the movement. This is called the principal of irradiation (AKA muscle cheering).
With your head reaching up towards the sky and chin pulling back slightly towards the neck to lengthen, draw a huge circle in the sky with the crown of your head by drawing your left ear to the left shoulder, then draw your head back and around bringing your right ear to the right shoulder. Finish this circle by drawing your chin to your collarbone. Move with focus and intention, but not haste.
Do this 3x to the left before repeating in the opposite direction.
As you draw your ear to one side, keep the opposite shoulder down and engaged to optimize the stretch
Pay attention to what you are feeling throughout the exercise. Strong tension is fine, but beware of any pinch points. Work around them.
Maintain posture throughout this move and bend only through the neck, not the upper torso.
When moving the head from one side to the other towards the back, be gentle. The idea is to simply move your head to the opposite side.
Play around with moving the joints in the neck. In that same lengthened posture, look as far to the left and as far to right.
Next Up: Shoulder Blades