Structural Training Position Against Wall

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Using a wall for feedback, you will be able to feel when you have a structurally aligned, elongating spine. This exercise is dependent only upon a wall or door to lean against, so it can be done anywhere as a postural recharging exercise. For those with back problems, particularly lower back pain and sciatica, it is a powerful method for decompressing the vertebrae and lessening the discomfort.

a. Lower Body

Lean against a wall with the heels approximately one to one and a half feet from the wall. Bend the knees and tuck the pelvis under so that the lower spine becomes flattened to the wall without discomfort. Work gradually to this position if there is discomfort initially The calves will be perpendicular to the ground or slightly angled back toward the wall. You should feel that you are comfortably leaning against the wall.

b. Feet

Press the balls of the big toes firmly to the floor, then widen the feet across the balls. This will spread the toes. Now, equalize the weight on three points of each foot: the ball of the big toe, the last two toes and the middle of the heel. The toes should remain relaxed without grasping the floor with the second toes pointing straight ahead. Keep the feet aligned in this way, even if you feel pigeon-toed. Apply this same foot alignment when standing, walking or exercising.

c. Head/Neck/Upper Back

Bring as much of the upper back as flat to the wall as possible without strain, by beginning with the sacrum against the wall while holding the remainder of the spine rounded forward away from it. Now roll the spine vertebra by vertebra against the wall until you reach your limit of flexibility. Hold the head as if it is gently pushed back from the upper lip and lifted (or suspended) from its crown. Do not overdo this by tucking the chin. For many persons, the back of the head will not touch the wall. (Fig. 4.4)

Tuck the shoulders down away from the ears and widen them out to the sides. (Fig. 4.5) (See the Shoulder Widening Exercise in this Chapter.)

e. Arms/Shoulders

There are several possible arm positions:

(1) Simply let the arms hang relaxed at the sides with the palms facing into the torso. This is the most natural position and is appropriate if you are practicing around other people, at work for example, and do not want to look like you are doing an "exercise".

(2) Starting from position (1) bring the elbows back to barely touch the wall, without bringing the forearms to the wall or the shoulders back. This position helps to properly align the shoulders. As the elbows are brought back, the shoulders will naturally roll back slightly, without being pulled back excessively.

(3) Roll the left shoulder blade away from the wall until only the inner edge of the left shoulder blade is touching the wall. Now roll the rest of the left shoulder blade back to touch the wall. Repeat on the right side, then bring the arms to position (1) or (2). This position strongly stretches the shoulders out to either side, and thus widens the upper back and chest simultaneously. This stretch is good preparation for the Iron Shirt exercises which require scapulae power.

Do not attempt positions (2) or (3) unless they can be done without strain.

Fig. 4.5 Widen the shoulders

For additional stretch in the lower back, bend the knees and sink down lower on the wall. Then, keeping the sacrum in firm contact with the wall, slowly straighten the knees back to the original position. For even more stretch, place the hands around the hips and push down while you straighten back to the original position. This will strongly lengthen the lower spine. Do not attempt this until the lower back can be brought to the wall without discomfort. This is most effective when practiced against a wall that is not completely smooth. This extra stretch is particularly valuable for anyone with lower back pain or sciatica.

g. Spinal Elongation Breathing

Simply standing in the Structural Training Position Against Wall will help to decompress and straighten the spine. It is not necessary to do special breathing in order to derive benefit from this position. The goal is not to have a straight spine, but a straightening spine. The wall gives you feedback when your spine is in a more straightened alignment.

In a structurally balanced body, breathing causes a natural elongation of the spine. This occurs to the greatest degree when the chest is filled during inhalation. The lifting and widening of the ribs causes the vertebrae to separate from each other and the spine to lengthen. Practice of deep chest breathing in this position and in Door Hanging leads to a conditioning of this natural breathing/ alignment relationship. (Fig. 4.6) Once you have developed this spinal elongation, it will occur even in the more relaxed, daily-life breathing that is primarily abdominal. This opening and closing of the spine with breathing is an integral part of the normal body mechanism that pumps blood, Chi and cerebrospinal fluid around the central nervous system.

Spine Elongation

Fig. 4.6 Stretching the Spine and Spinal Elongation Breathing.

Fig. 4.6 Stretching the Spine and Spinal Elongation Breathing.

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Qigong also spelled Ch'i Kung is a potent system of healing and energy medicine from China. It's the art and science of utilizing breathing methods, gentle movement, and meditation to clean, fortify, and circulate the life energy qi.

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