The modified sphinx mobilization is an easy exercise that can be performed daily to improve overall health by increasing strength, reducing stress, and allowing stretch. The majority of the population has developed spinal stiffness and an enhanced forward rounded curve in the upper back (the thoracic spine). Increased use of keyboards, texting, repetitive movements, and more sitting are some of the major culprits resulting in the loss of thoracic flexibility. Not only can this loss of movement result in local pain and tightness, but there are direct links to neck tension, headaches, and low back pain. The modified sphinx is an exercise that targets the spine and helps to reverse these changes. It is an easy and relaxing home care intervention that can reduce tension in the joints and muscles to improve mobility, reduce frequency of certain types of headaches, and relive low back, mid-back, and neck pain.  

With buttock resting on heels, Inhale,  press upward to round shoulders , and the chin into the chest.

The sphinx mobilization can be complemented with neck stretching, core strengthening, and other mobilizations such as the cat-cow. It is very similar to the cat-cow lumbar (low back) mobilization, but it targets the upper back and neck.

Start on the floor in a hands and knees position. In the sphinx position, both hands will be on the ground directly in front of the knees so that the wrists are in contact with the knee cap. Drop the buttock to the heels.  Start the mobilization by slowly arching the upper back upward and rounding the shoulders forward, similar to the “cat” movement in cat-cow. While the back arches up, push the ground with the outside part of the palms and feel the shoulder blade muscles contract, while the shoulder blades slide outward along the rib cage. Retract the chin (make a double chin) and look down towards both knees. Most of the movement is supposed to come from the upper back and low neck. This is the first half of the mobilization.

Exhale, arch mid-back, and tilt chin upward.

The second half of the mobilization starts by trying to push the sternum towards the ground; this is an external cue, and note that the sternum is not actually going near the floor. The cue is trying to force as much mobilization from the upper back as possible. As you slowly bend through the upper back, start to look upwards by bending the neck, while keeping it relatively straight. When at full extension, hold the pose for at least 5 seconds and repeat the first half.

Repeat both steps slowly 10 times in a row, holding the end pose. Then, take a break, do some upper back stretches, and repeat the mobilization again.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the clinic for consultation.

Have a great day,
Dr. Lucas Tisshaw, North Vancouver Chiropractor and ART Provider.