Getting started with curling our upper bodies off the floor to work our abdominals can be a challenge. In general we feel a lot of neck tension which leads to frustration and giving up or possibly leads to injury.
A safer way to engage your upper abdominals and to remove a lot of discomfort, is to start by using a stability ball. The ball helps to support your body weight so you can challenge your abdominal muscles without having to recruit quite so many accessory muscles. It is a way of easing you into the work and helping you to learn your connections thereby building your strength.
Getting Into Position:
Place the ball between your shoulder blades on your rib cage. Bring your hands up behind the head to support the weight of the head and wrap your elbows forward to help release the shoulders. Legs are bent, hip distance apart. When you roll back over the ball, the movement should feel comfortable for your spine. If you experience discomfort, adjust the position of the ball either up or down until you find a comfortable spot.
Performing the Movement:
Inhale to roll your spine back over the ball opening your chest, feeling a stretch through your abdominal wall, keep your pelvis on the floor. Let yourself melt down over the ball. Exhale to engage your abdominals to bring you back up. Let the head be heavy in your hands, avoid jamming your chin to your chest. It is not a movement of your head and neck but of your thoracic spine.
You are rolling your spine over the ball and then curling forward, engaging the abdominals to bring you back up. The rolling action helps to mobilize your thoracic spine (upper back) and the return challenges your abdominal strength.
For the upper body, a larger mini stability ball is usually better as it offers more support than a smaller version. You want your spine to be able to wrap around the ball and if the ball is too small you may not experience enough support. Trial and error is your best best in this regard.
You can also perform this exercise with a large stability ball, like a swiss ball. The work will be a little bit different due to the size of the ball but it is still a great exercise.
Need more challenge? Add a knee fold. As you curl forward, draw one knee towards your chest, lower it to the ground as you roll back over the ball. Repeat with second leg. Eventually you can lift both legs off the mat (not shown).
Disclaimer: All movement challenges should be done safely and without risk to the dog or human. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on this website. Never rely on information on this website in place of seeking professional medical advice.
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