Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
— Harriet Tubman
It’s hard to reach for the stars when gravity pulls you down. Being grounded is a wonderful thing, but if you allow yourself to collapse down into your hips and feet, you will grow shorter while creating compression and pain instead of lifting your spine and creating space.
It’s even possible to slightly increase your height when you learn how to lift your ribcage up away from your hips. But even if your height remains the same, you can feel and look dramatically taller and lighter.
Use a Wall
Stand facing a wall with your hands at shoulder height and your elbows pointing down, not out to the sides. Your legs should be under your hips (not seen in the picture).
To feel your ribcage lift up away from your hips, feel “as if” you are sliding your hands down the wall.I say “as if” because I don’t want you to actually move your hands. Keep them exactly where they started but try to pull them down.This engages muscles under your arms which can help create the sensation of lifting your ribcage.
You can look up slightly, if you wish, but don’t tip your head or shoulders back. The focus of the movement is to lift your ribcage, not create a backbend. Also notice that when you attempt to pull your hands down, your shoulders don’t lift around your ears.
Make sure you don’t poke your ribcage forward as you lift. That creates a backbend by pressing your shoulders back. It can also create the illusion that you are lifting your chest when in actuality all you are doing is hinging at your ribs. (See an explanation of this phenomenon).
Use Your Hands
Here’s another way to learn how to lift your ribs. Bring both hands around the bottom of your ribcage. Draw your abdominal muscles and diaphragm (around the edge of the ribcage) up and in around the edge of your ribs to lift your ribcage. Use your hands to feel your ribcage lifting.
You’ll feel your abdomen lengthen and draw in when you lift your ribcage away from your hips. Make sure you don’t lift your shoulders or pop your ribcage forward. Do not hold your breath or suck your lower abdomen in. You should still be able to breathe fully! Now relax your arms by your sides while keeping your ribs lifted.
The more length you can find in your spine, the less compression you create in your low back.
Use an Expert
Even when you understand what you need to do, your body doesn’t always cooperate. I use many different techniques to help people in pain find length in their spine. If you have low back pain, I can help you discover new ways to teach your body what it needs to do. You don’t have to continue living in pain. Contact me today!