How To Bridge: 6 Best Exercises For Spinal Mobility

Learning how to bridge is an awesome decision for improving your spinal mobility.

In fact, bridge is one of the best exercises for offsetting all of the sitting and forward rounding many of us do daily.

Below, you will learn some of the best spinal mobility exercises to prepare for bridge. As well, you will learn the progressions to get to the full bridge position.

And while you don’t need to be a contortionist, learning how to bridge is a great goal.

Let me explain…

Why Learn How to Bridge?

Don’t you want to move better!?

Like improving hip mobility, spinal mobility will allow you to do that. Among other things.

  • Correct & improve posture
  • Better performance
  • Alleviate back-pain
  • Improve shoulder flexion
  • Allow you to move with more freedom
  • Reduce chances of injury

These are all great reasons to learn how to bridge. Your spine will thank you for practicing the exercises below.

Especially if you find you are constantly sitting and rounding forward (over your phone, computer, bad posture, etc.).

Seriously. Achieving bridge isn’t even that hard. It just takes a commitment to practice a few exercises often. Daily if you can. In just a few short weeks you will notice the benefits.

Let’s take a look at a video demonstration of how to bridge.

How To Bridge: Full YouTube Mobility Workout

Learn how to bridge by following the video demonstrations.

Here is the exercise list and recommendations:

  • Prone Press-Ups + Cobra Stretch | 2 sets 10 reps + 10-20 sec
  • Four-Point Thoracic Rotation | 2 sets 10 reps / side
  • Thoracic Extension | 2 sets 30 sec
  • Kneeling Back Bend / Camel | 2 sets 20-30 sec
  • Quad Stretch | 2 sets 30 sec
  • Bridge (practice the level you are currently on) | 2-4 sets 20-30 sec
    • A) Shoulder Bridge
    • B) Head Bridge
    • C) Low Bridge
    • D) Full Bridge

Below will briefly discuss these exercises.

How To Bridge: 6 Exercises For Great Spinal Mobility

Here are some cues and tips to help you out with each of the exercises in the spinal mobility workout.

1. Prone Press-Ups + Cobra Stretch

Prone press-ups exercise demonstration

Prone press-ups are McKenzie exercises that are great for the lumbar spine.

If prone press-ups are too much, set up on your elbows instead. Like a sphinx. Or just keep the arms bent to the level you feel most comfortable with.

  • Keep your glutes and legs relaxed
  • Press with the arms only
  • Lift your chest
  • Perform 10 reps with control
  • Inhale as you rise, exhale as you lower

Take it nice and easy.

2. Four-Point Thoracic Rotation

Four point thoracic rotation exercise demonstration

Four-point rotations are a great spinal rotation exercise.

With bridge, most people focus on the thoracic extension.

However, your spine moves in more ways than that! Therefore, you should include multiple movements in your spinal mobility workout.

Spinal rotations are also great as you advance your bridge. You can include rotations and movements from other positions (for example, moving to bridge from “wild thing” in yoga).

  • Start from your hands and knees
  • Keep your spine neutral
  • Core is engaged
  • Bring your right hand behind your head
  • Open your chest, bringing your elbow as high as you can
  • Bring your right elbow to your left wrist
  • Repeat slow and controlled for 10 reps/side
  • Inhale as you raise your elbow, exhale as you close

3. Thoracic Extension / Shoulder Flexion

This is where most people will struggle with bridge.

As mentioned earlier, many of us are constantly in a forward rounding and/or seated position.

Unfortunately, people don’t even realize how immobile they become in the shoulders and thoracic spine (until they try to learn how to bridge).

The good news is practicing bridge is one of the BEST ways to fix this.

And this exercise will really help.

  • Start from your hands and knees
  • Walk your hands forward, keeping your hips over your knees
  • Bring your head and chest towards the ground
  • Try tucking the pelvis and engaging the core for more focus on shoulder flexion
  • Try dropping the navel and arching the lower back (anterior pelvic tilt) for more thoracic extension
  • Hold for 30 seconds
  • You can also try this with your hands on a chair

4. Kneeling Backbend / Camel Stretch

This is a great backbend to help learn how to bridge.

You can do this with a couch or chair behind you. Or you can leave your hands on your lower back. Finally, when you have the flexibility, you can bring your hands to your heels. Either with toes tucked under (easier) or tops of your feet on the ground (more difficult).

  • Start from a kneeling position
  • Bring your hands to your lower back
  • Lift your chest, and round the thoracic spine
  • Press your hips forward
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds

5. Quad Stretch

Having good quad flexibility will also help with learning how to bridge.

Especially if you spend a lot of time sitting, your quads might be tight.

  • From a kneeling position, sit back on your heels (you may want to sit back on a yoga block)
  • If you can sit fully onto your heels, start to work yourself back onto your elbows
  • If you can rest on your elbows easily enough, lay on your back
  • Hold for 30 seconds

6. Bridge Progressions

Below are four levels of progressions you can use for your bridge.

Go to the highest level you can. And over time, work to improve it. Eventually, your spinal mobility will improve. So you can finally advance to the full bridge position.

Level 1) Shoulder Bridge

how to bridge progression one) shoulder bridge

Shoulder bridge is a good starting position.

  • From your back, bend your knees and bring your feet towards your glutes
  • Engage your glutes and use your hamstrings to lift your hips off the ground
  • Keep elevating the hips and rolling onto your shoulders
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds

Level 2) Head Bridge

Once you are comfortable with shoulder bridge, it’s time to take it to the next step.

  • Setup similar to shoulder bridge, heels towards your glutes
  • Bend your arms, bringing your hands by your ears
  • Press into your hands and lift yourself up onto the top of your head
  • Keep pressing into the hands to take pressure off of the neck
  • Hold it here for 20-30 seconds

Level 3) Low Bridge

If you can achieve head bridge easily enough, it’s time to start working into full bridge.

Between low bridge and full bridge is where many will find themselves.

  • Setup like you would for the head bridge
  • From head bridge, press into the hands and lift your head off of the ground
  • Keep pressing into your arms and straighten them as much as you can (it will take time!)
  • Hold it – trying to achieve 20-30 seconds

Level 4) Full Bridge

how-to-bridge-pose-beginners

Finally, you’ve made it to full bridge.

  • Keep working from low bridge, aiming to straighten your arms and legs
  • Try lifting the heals (tip toes) to make it easier
  • Think of pushing the chest towards the direction of your wrists
  • Hint: try elevating the feet to get more thoracic focus
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds

How To Bridge: Conclusion

Hopefully this article on how to bridge will help you achieve more “freedom” in your spine.

Remember, you do not have to be able to do bridge. Nor do you have to work to the level of a contortionist.

However, if you CANNOT bridge, I highly recommend you fix that.

Bridge is one of the best ways to offset all of the forward rounding many of us are exposed to. As well, one of the better exercises to improve posture.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

Good luck!

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