Did you know you can decompress your spine at home? Pretty cool, huh. Learn all about how to do this as well as 3 types of active and passive decompression by continuing to read on below!
What Is Spinal Decompression?
Spinal decompression is commonly thought of as some fancy high-tech machine that pulls your spine apart, but it’s just a way to relieve pressure on your spinal cord or any of your nerves in this area. Fun fact: there are actually more effective ways to decompress your spine at home!
Decompression, in short, is a type of long axis traction of the vertebrae of the back, causing the vertebrae to become distanced from one another.
Three Types of Active and Passive Decompression
There are 3 types of active and passive decompression:
- Joint decompression - decompression of the joints.
- Disc decompression - decompression of the discs.
- Global decompression - decompression of both together.
Is Spinal Compression Normal?
Compression on the spine is constantly happening, and is normal. When you stand or sit, roughly half of your body weight is compressing downward on the vertebra, the vertebral joints, and the discs between the vertebrae. For the aligned human body, the compression is distributed equally upon the joints and discs, which is how the spine is designed to handle forces.
When Is Spinal Compression an Issue?
The problems with spinal compression occur when there is misalignment in the spine, or movements of the body. When this happens the compression is distributed unequally up different structures of the spine, and when these pressure imbalances repeat day in and day out for years or decades pain begins to accumulate to the level in which you feel them.
What Type of Spinal Decompression Is Best?
You will likely benefit more from specific decompression of the back than gross long axis traction. For example, if you have any kind of joint issues: SI joint, facet joint, spondylolisthesis, or spondylosis (caused from hyperlordosis) you will benefit more from focusing on only decompressing the joints in your back.
On the flip side, if you have disc issues; bulge, herniation, past laminectomy, annular tears, you will do best by only decompressing the discs. This is usually accompanied with a posture of a flatter lumbar spine, which is what causes the constant compression on the disc.
Here’s how this works: let’s take two vertebrae and the disc in between. Now, we are going to lock the lower vertebra in place with a vice. The top vertebra acts very much like a seesaw, as it rocks forward the disc is compressed but the joints separate, and as we rock backwards the joints compress but the disc decompresses.
The 2 Types of Decompression
To go another layer deeper, we will go into the two types of decompression - active and passive. Active decompression is the long term fix that most of us need, yet do note that this method is slow acting and long lasting. This is accomplished through realignment of your vertebrae through active muscle contraction and awareness - yes you can reduce the pressure off of your disc with your muscles! You will learn the method to accomplish this in our MoveU Membership - specifically within our Back and Core and Hips and Glutes Programs.
Passive decompression - this is often done through something static like a stretch, an inversion table, decompression unit, or banded traction with a resistance band. This decompression usually provides rapid, yet short lasting relief. Beware of this trap, where you get relief and have to repeat it over and over until you're 100 years old. However, to make fast results last, you must immediately follow the traction with strength exercises that utilize the newfound pain-free range of motion the traction provided - if you don’t use it, you lose it!
3 Passive Decompression Exercises
Today you’re going to practice three passive decompression exercises - one for the discs and one for the joints, and one that’s universal. The reason we are starting with passive decompression is to help you feel positive results quickly, which will motivate you to put in the work to actively decompress your spine to fix yo sh!t for good. Here are the 3 passive decompression exercises you can do at home:
1. Upward-Facing Dog
This movement decompresses the discs of the lumbar spine, and is usually very beneficial for fast acting pain relief for people with disc issues.
2. Happy Baby
This movement decompresses the joints of the lumbar spine, as it takes the curve out of the spine.
3. Band Axis Pulls
You’re going to need a very thick resistance band for this one, which you can find on Amazon under the MoveU favorites section. Anchor the band at ankle height, now stand and face the anchor point of the band. Loop the band between your feet and pull the band around your hips. Now sit on the ground and scoot away from the band. Now lie down on your back with the band around your hips and your feet free floating on the ground. You can grab something with your arms so as not to slide downward from the band pull. Now, allow the band to pull your hips downward.