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arch + curl - low back remedy

in the september edition of "i've got your back" on wtip, we talk about more tips for your low back! so many of my patients have low back pain and more often than not, i find that it's coming from hips that are too tight. this is an exercise that is great to do every day - pretty simple and sweet, just getting the hips moving!


:: start in neutral ::


move your hips to the front of your chair, so you can feel your "sit bones" (the ones that hurt sitting on a bike seat for too long!) underneath you. start by sitting tall, having a long low back, reaching your head up to the sky. the tallest you've been all day!










:: arch ::


tilt your pelvis so that your belly button comes forwards towards your lap, and your tailbone reaches behind you. imagine, if your pelvis were a bowl, all of the water would be spilling forward. leave your ribcage out of it, if you can. no need to make this a full spinal motion! we're really just focusing on the hips, and the range of motion of the pelvis. notice what muscles (probably in your low back!) are driving this motion. we're not trying to add tension here, just noticing how we move and trying to find the fullest range we can.






:: slowly come back to neutral ::


after that arch, come back to neutral. slowly, paying attention, return to a long neutral spine. let go of any tension or effort in your low back. moving slowly will teach your brain how to let go of the muscles that make us tighten up! you might notice that your neutral position is in a slightly different place!


:: curl ::


pull your belly button toward your spine, front hip bones rolling towards your lower ribs, feeling your "sit bones" disappear as you roll your pelvis under, landing on the flesh of your bum. it's as though you were pulling your tail between your legs. this is different than slouching because you are *not* involving your ribcage. everything is happening below the ribs! your breastbone and collarbone stay super broad and wide. enjoy the spaciousness of your low back! look how much room there is down there!





:: return to neutral ::


reach the top of your head to the sky again, come back up onto your "sit bones" (i don't know why, but i think it's so fascinating to watch them arrive underneath my weight and to watch them disappear as i curl backwards). again, move slowly, teaching your brain how to let go of those patterns, and find a long, free, neutral spine.


:: this is not stretching - or strengthening ::


this is about cleaning out the cobwebs! getting into the full range, keeping things moving so they move better and easier. but this won't feel like a big stretch, and it won't feel like doing sets lifting or anything. it's important not to put too much effort into this! the magic comes from doing this slowly, sweetly, and paying attention. it's safe to do this multiple times a day - it's even encouraged! you can do this from a chair.


:: off the rails! ::


if you really get into this, there are lots of other ways to explore the arch and curl. you can try it laying on your back with your knees bent up and your feet on the ground. do the same arch and curl, belly button lifting up to the sky, tailbone into the ground, back to neutral, and curl by flattening your low back into the ground beneath you and pulling your tailbone up to the sky as the navel comes back towards the spine. it's all the same thing, just a different relationship to gravity! i recommend the chair to start because you (probably) spend more of your day sitting in a chair than laying on your back on the floor! but once you've got the hang of it, it's fun to explore.


if you practice yoga, this might seem similar to cat / cow and it is, except we're really focusing on, and isolating, using just the pelvis instead of lifting and dropping the ribcage. but if you practice yoga regularly, try doing your cat / cow starting at your tailbone and carrying that wave up your spine, piece by piece. try it for yourself!




if you have any questions, about these practices or others, don't hesitate to reach out! my email is drstephvos@gmail.com and i love to chat about bodies :)


listen to the full interview here, and stay tuned the last wednesday of the month for "i've got your back" at 8:20(ish) on wtip.org's north shore morning show!






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