Your spine is arguably the most important structure in your body, so it’s important to take care of it. Your spine gets a lot of compression from daily activities, gravity and general life. Add to that the extra compression you give it with strength training and you better start decompressing it.
Back health is extremely important, and I’m willing to bet most of you have back pain currently. I myself hurt my lower back about a year ago, and this is one of the methods I used to get it back to 99% (still sometimes gets tight or painful). I’ll do a complete post on why you have back pain and how to fix it later, but read this now.
What you want to do is follow a simple decompression method that helps to keep your spine healthy and mobile by helping it decompress to its original length.
Here’s everything you need to know…
How To Do Spine Decompressions
You’ll need a pull-up bar to do your decompressions. After you have that piece of equipment, there’s two ways to go about this:
- Get Gravity Boots: This is the method that I use. These are boots that you strap onto your ankles and have hooks on them so you can hang upside down from your pullup bar safely and allow your spine to decompress. I use Teeter Hang Ups Gravity Boots. An added bonus is that with these boots I can do inverted sit ups for my abs and other cool “upside down” exercises.
- Hang With Your Hands: This is easy. Simply hang from your pull-up bar and relax all your muscles–hold it for as long as possible. The longer you hang the better shoot for at least 5 minutes and build up from there. You probably can’t hang that long, so here’s…
How To Hang Longer With Your Hands
The longer you hang the better, but your grip will probably give out. While I would never recommend using lifting straps for your regular lifting, I recommend them for decompressions because it will allow you to hang on longer. Choose nylon-type lifting straps or lifting hook straps because they’re more durable.
How To Relax Your Muscles So Your Spine Decompresses
Your muscles need to be relaxed in order for your spine to decompress (staying tight won’t help). Here’s what to do whether you’re using the gravity boots method or the hanging from your hands method:
- Hang off the pull-up bar
- Take a deep breath and hold it
- Tighten up your whole body (focus on abs, glutes and make fists)
- Hold your whole body tense for 5 seconds
- Let it all out, your breath and all the tension. Relax
When you do this you’ll feel your whole body relaxing and you’ll probably “drop” down a little bit. You’ll probably feel your back decompressing, especially the first few times.
How Often You Should Decompress
Daily is best. I must admit, I don’t do it every day consistently. But you really should try to do it as much as possible. If you get bored hanging upside down you can read a book or something. It’s best to do these right after your strength training sessions, right after your cooldown–think of it as a part of your cooldown.
You Might Get Taller (And Other Unexpected Benefits!)
This is from a review on Amazon.com of the Teeter Hang Ups Gravity Boots by a guy named Micah:
“Being a bodybuilder, I hoist heavy weights all the time; a major stress especially when it comes to squats. I ordered the boots when I realized I had shrunk to 5’10.5″ from being 6’0.5″. I was thusly very happy when after approximately 5 weeks of hanging (5 times a week, 10-15 min intervals) that I am nearly back to my original height (6′ 0.25″). I highly suggest this product as a supplement to good [emphasis on good] chiropractic care.
To those who have/will order this product, don’t be discouraged if it seems to hurt your back at first; that’s totally normal because your back is trying to readjust while the discs [which cushion the vertebrate] start rehydrating. Also, it will take some time to find the strap tightness that’s right for your legs. Generally, tighter on the top strap and looser on the bottom is a good combination.
p.s. Hang from a real pull-up bar and make sure you have someone to spot you if you are not strong enough to pull yourself back up the bar to unlatch yourself.”
So yeah, do spinal decompressions from now on, your body will thank you.