Functional Forward Folds
In my workshops I teach about the importance of a functional forward fold. Here are the main actions:
- transfer your weight into your heels
- extend your lumbar spine slightly
- unlock your knees
- hinge at your hips (rather than flex/bend through your lumbar spine)
Try practicing this with a bar held along your spine, touching your occiput, thoracic spine, and sacrum (see the video below). After you hinge as far as you can, let the bar slide off your back and fold forward, bringing your hands to the ground or yoga blocks. Make sure your hips stay behind your heels, and your knees behind your mid foot. To transition up to standing, bring your hands to your shins and engage your hamstrings and glutes to reverse the hinge. After doing this exercise with the bar at least 10-15 times you will get a sense of how to move from your hips rather than from your low back.
Your future back will thank you.
I love talking about fascia and how it links everything in our body. Although it is important to know the names and functions of individual muscles, you will have a greater understanding of the moving body if you think in terms of fascial trains and kinetic chains.
Remember the posterior chain - a group of muscles connected by fascia running from the bottom of your feet along your entire backside, up to the back of your head, helping to support you in gravity. This is what we work with in functional forward folds.