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Exercise of the Month #1 - Threading the Needle

This is a brilliant exercise for improving mobility in the thoracic spine (mid-back), building upper body strength and loading the wrists - important for strengthening wrists and forearms and stimulating bone growth. Its a winner!

Performing this exercise well requires a lot of focus and awareness. There's lots happening here - rotation of the neck and spine, flexion of the hips, flexion of the elbow, extension of the wrist, adduction and abduction of the shoulder - errrrrr what does that all mean?!

In simple terms, you are twisting your spine, folding at your hips, bending your elbow and wrist, and moving your other arm across the body and then out to the side, away from the body.

I've included 5 images below which I refer to as 1-5, in the order of appearance. Images 1 and 2 show the spine rotating in an open twist (image 1) and a closed twist (image 2), both of which form part of the exercise. Notice how my hips remain directly over my knees. I'm also keeping my neck long throughout - see how I'm looking directly to the side in image 1.

In images 3 to 5 below, I'm showing some things to watch out for when you're practising Threading the Needle.

Each of the above three photographs show common mis-alignments when this exercise is being performed.

In image 3 you can see that my spine is rounded and my tailbone has tucked under. I've also transferred my weight back towards my heels and my hips are no longer over my knees. The shoulder of my supporting arm is also no longer over the wrist (this often happens when there is weakness/pain in the wrists). You can see that I've let my head drop so my neck is flexed and I'm not looking directly to the side. You will often hear me saying to look in front of your supporting arm and not behind it, when I'm teaching this exercise. If you compare image 1 with image 3 you will see what I mean here!

In image 4 I have pushed my hips off to the side, instead of keeping them nice and still, directly over the knees.

Image 5 is maybe a little more subtle, but if you compare it with image 1 you might be able to see what's happening here. My spine has dipped in the middle and I've sunk down into the shoulder of my supporting arm. To correct this, I would need to bend the elbow of my supporting arm more and focus on lengthening the spine in both directions.

I hope this helps! If you have any questions or if there is an exercise you'd like me to highlight next month, please let me know.

Until next month!

Marina x

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