Sphinx has Your Back

Thankfully, my “throwing my back out” era is well in the past but when I was living through it, it got a little scary. My son, Luca, was about 2 years old the first time it happened, and then almost an exact year later, it happened again. Both times, I was outside, it was cold, and I was awkwardly carrying a heavy object.  Both times it happened in an instant – I felt my lower left erector spinae muscles contract, clamp down, and freeze, leaving my left hip hiked up and my body, seemingly paralyzed, in an immovable block. 

Yes, strength was an issue. I definitely think my core muscles (which include the lower back), and my rear deltoids, needed work. And yes, stretch was an issue. It was cold outside, I had not warmed up and my muscles were tense and tight. But my biggest problem at the time was alignment. I was misaligned. 

My typical daily “shape” had three no-no’s: 1. uneven hips (one hip was in front on the other and became higher than the other), 2. rounded shoulders (slightly hunched), and 3. head in front on the heart. These three misalignments are quite common today for men and women, young and old, and the fit or not-so-fit, making the back a ticking time bomb

So what’s a free and easy preventative measure? Sphinx pose. Everyday. Just bring your body into sphinx pose (lying on your belly with upper body propped up on your forearms) and stay there for as long as you can. One minute? Great. Five minutes? Fantastic. A whole episode of Friends? Love it! Just do what you can, and this shape counteracts slouching and front body contraction.

All the other spine extensions, like fish pose, cobra pose and upward facing dog, are excellent too, but sphinx pose is sustainable and quasi-passive and needs no equipment, making it the most user-friendly one of them all. 

Every morning, I roll out my mat, and the first thing I do on that mat is linger in sphinx pose while I program in a music playlist. I’m good to go with a minute or two. (FYI, after a day of travel, I’ll hold it much longer.)

When it comes to your back, of course keep it strong and supple, but on top of that, properly align it with sphinx pose. A healthy back is a precious commodity