Holding a gymnastic bridge holds a number of benefits, from building a strong back for overhead squats and opening up doors for gymnastics moves like walkovers and back handsprings.
Doing these stretches in the wrong way though can put your back out so read through as it will have a big impact on your long term training health.
OK first a slight terminology detour. When people talk about bridges and cobra stretches they talk about having a flexible back – but in fact it’s your ABS that are being stretched. So our focus here is to increase the flexibility in the stomach area.
Which brings us onto our first point:
1. Realignment. Whenever you stretch your abs you put pressure on your spine. A slight pinch feeling in your back is normal especially when doing bridges, but it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Follow every bridge with some form of forward bend. This can be bending down to touch your toes, doing the same while seated, or grabbing a fixed object and pulling away as pictured.
2. Next most important step is to keep some tension in your core. Squeeze lightly in your abs, obliques and back while doing the bridge and you will protect your spine from over compression. This holds true however far you progress your bridge, as you want your strength to hold you in position and not your anatomy.
3. Breathe and stay relaxed. Breathing will naturally help you relax which will reduce pain, discomfort and slow progress. Breathing isn’t so instinctive when you go into a bridge though. Breathe through your chest make a conscious effort to breathe to avoid holding your breath.
4. Know the right kind of pain. A burning sensation in your shoulders and stomach is normal but sharp pains are bad and it’s likely you’re pushing it too far or in the wrong position. Some sharp pain in your back is unavoidable but be sure to release it using 1.) above.
Follow these tips to progress your bridges and backward bending faster and more sustainably. You’ll achieve better results in the long term.
If you are ever unsure if you are doing these right or want expert guidance come to a flexibility class as we cover bridges every week.
Or, for quicker results and less injuries in your training join a free Get Flexible & Feel Fantastic 1-1 taster by booking here.
Crossfit London / Crossfit SE11