At the time of birth,the back muscles are so weak that babies cannot hold their heads up. But then a month passes, and then another, and soon the head is confidently held high. At the age of six months, a baby can sit, and at the age of one year, most children start walking. This progress takes place because of spinal muscle development. Constant loading under the influence of the force of gravity makes the spine grows stronger and more durable, and typical spinal curvatures are formed.
The thing is, gravity not only strengthens vertebrae, it can also deform them. Sedentary work in an office, especially sitting in an inappropriate position that resembles a question mark, overloads the spine so much that not only ligaments and muscles suffer, but bones also become deformed. Vertebrae, especially cervical ones, change their form, leading to the development of bone spurs (osteophytes).
Sedentary work isn’t the only thing that places a load on the spine; some diseases can do this too. For example, as a result of scoliosis, there can be such severe muscle spasms in the area of the spinal curvature that the muscles seem to have the density of bone or stones when they’re touched. They are so tense, they feel as hard as a rock!
So, on the one hand, muscle straining keeps vertebrae and the whole spinal column in correct alignment. But on the other hand, muscle spasms cause pain and suffering. Is there a happy medium? A Golden Rule? When evaluating the exercises of isometric-static gymnastics you will notice that muscle relaxation is achieved by special methods. In particular, there is a way to achieve total relaxation of a muscle after it has been isometrically strained, the so-called post-isometric relaxation. It’s easy to relax your leg or arm muscle with the help of this method, but how can the muscles that lie deep within your back be reached? They are the ones that cause the worst spinal pain syndromes.
The fibers in your back muscle are very strong bundles which not only connect neighboring vertebrae. They also reach to remote spinal parts, stretching over several vertebrae. Some parts of these long muscle groups (the paravertebral muscles) are buried very deeply on both sides of your back near the spine. That’s why even the most skilled masseuse can’t knead or relax these muscles during a massage. But it’s important that they do relax! This is because every movement in every part of your body is accompanied by some degree of spinal muscle tension. In order to solve this problem and get these muscles to relax, you have to rely on the natural features of the spine:
The spine itself is made up of separate segments, like a snake. It is capable of making wavy vibrational movements, like a string on a violin, banjo or harp. And the music will sound! Appropriately, these exercises are called “String” exercises. They cause vibration in the vertebrae that begins in one part of the spine and proceeds to neighboring portions, like a wave in the ocean. As a result of these exercises, the vertebrae take the most appropriate harmonious position, deep muscle tone becomes normal, and spasms and pain disappear.
In the exercises of the “String” complex, the spine acts like a string. The goal of these exercises is not tension, but the opposite: deep relaxation of the paravertebral muscles. During these exercises, different parts of the body swing like a pendulum. This causes a slight rocking micro-motion of the vertebrae which spreads, like a string, along the whole vertebral column.
30 to 60 seconds of these movements will be enough to relax the deepest spinal muscles which add to the pain of any spinal disorder: herniation of intervertebral disk, exacerbation of osteochondrosis of the spine or any other spinal disease. This is why the “String” exercises are an excellent therapeutic weapon to use in the fight to conquer back pain and spasms.
The principle necessary requirement for creating a wave in the spine is total relaxation. In order to completely relax you need to strike a pose horizontally on the floor. To keep the natural spinal curvature in your neck and in your lower back, place small towel rolls, or just your own palms, under them (one palm or rolled towel under your low back and the other one under your neck).
Relax your abdominal muscles completely and close your eyes. This position will increase relaxation and help you achieve the most benefit from the “String” exercises.
Do the exercises of the “String” complex in the order listed. This way, you will start with minimal swinging movements of your body (“String, swing with feet lying on a back”) and finish with an exercise which causes the biggest wave and vibration in your spine (“String, swing with hands clenched together lying on a back”).
The exercises of the “String” complex cause micro-motion of the vertebrae relative to each other. They lead to improvement in the position of where the bones meet, and therefore cause a reduction in pain. This is why the exercises of the “String” complex can and should be done in cases of increased pain due to osteochondrosis of the spine. Remember, YOU MUST NOT DO THESE EXERCISES IF PAIN OCCURS!