Bridging, for some ungodly reason, is held to be the panacea of bodyweight exercise. Why on Earth I have no idea. Spinal flexibility benefits all athletes. However, the list of reports and studies on the adverse effects of sustained, static stretching continue endlessly. I won't waist your time with the pros and cons of back bridging. Suffice it to say that even the proponents advise that bridging too long, too often, and/or too hard results in injury.
Bridging is and always was a preparatory exercise for advanced movement. Those coaches that use it otherwise negligently imperil the performance and health of their athletes. Bridging is in effect a single plane motion. In reality, it is only one half of one plane. In physiology, we describe the three planes of human motion-our three dimensions-as:
- Transverse Plane, which divides the top (cranial) and the bottom (caudal) halves of our body.
- Sagittal Plane, which divides the right and the left halves of our body.
- Frontal or Coronal Plane, which divides the back (dorsal) and the front (ventral) halves of our body.
These three planes have two sides equaling 6 portions to movement. We can move in each of these 6 portions which in physiology are referred to as "degrees." For years, I've been coaching DYNAMIC MOBILITY of the joints through my program called "Warrior Wellness: 6 Degrees of Freedom." Standard (single plane) bridging occurs within one degree of freedom: the dorsal half of the coronal plane. How does this transfer to performance on the field? Simply, it doesn't. It's an inarguable myth.
Of the exercise selection for my programs, I created a series of exercises I named "Multi-Planar Bridging." MPB provides spinal flexibility in truly complete range of motion, intra-muscular and inter-joint coordination as well as the incalculable factor of core proprioception.
Here is one of the MPB exercises which will start you on your way to increased performance and spinal health. As you follow the progression of photographs remember the following:
Remember The Following When Trying MPB Exercises:
- Stay in motion and move THROUGH the positions demonstrated in the photos. These are not "postures" but rather photographic points of reference to depict movement.
- The motion is a figure 8 or infinity sign.
- Your spine should move like a string of pearls WHEN RELAXED. Don't try to do Dynamic Mobility training with intensity.
- When compressed exhale, and when expanded inhale. This should occur naturally and not forced or consciously applied. Remember that a back arch is an act of compression on the lungs and hence results in exhalation. You can find more information on my "Performance Breathing" techniques in my book Clubbell Training for Circular Strength.
- The general protocol is 5 to 10 repetitions every morning to lubricate the spinal vertebrae and regulate the tone of core musculature. Expect to see significant improvements in your health and performance within 3-6 weeks.
How To Perform The Sagittal-Transverse MPB: