GYROTONIC® Arch Curl by Kindall Payne
A brief discussion on spinal stabilization and postural control
In both GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC® methods, the Arch and Curl (A&C) is one of the main movements practiced. The primary purpose of this movement is to increase mobility of the joints and spine. Thus one of the major ways to improve mobility of the spine is through spinal extension and flexion. In the A&C, the arch creates spinal extension, while the curl creates spinal flexion. Abdominal engagement is another way the body aids in initiating spinal extension and flexion. In addition, pelvic motion, and use of the pelvic floor muscles, is important for increasing range and motion of the trunk.
The human spine is a complex structure as its main functions are to protect the spinal cord and safely transfer weight from the head to the pelvis (Nordin and Frankel, 2001). The spine receives stability from the intervertebral discs (the spine’s shock absorption) and its surrounding ligaments and muscles. The intervertebral discs and ligaments provide intrinsic (internal) stability, while the muscles provide extrinsic (external) stability (Nordin and Frankel, 2001). Intervertebral discs are able to withstand, distribute loads and restraints excessive motion such as flexion (Smith, 2009, p. 261).
In the anterior portion, vertebral bodies in the lumbar spine are able to sustain large loads of tension and compression due to its size. In the posterior portion, the 3rd cervical vertebrae (C3), last cervical vertebrae (C7), and the lumbar allow flexion and extension of the spine. However, it is the role of the abdominals is to support and strengthen the spine. The main abdominal muscles that support the A&C movement are the rectus abdominals, external obliques, internal obliques and the transverse abdominals (Smith, 2009).
The rectus abdominals are activated when curling upward, for instance, and is the most powerful flexor of the spine. It also helps to allow posterior pelvic tilt. The external obliques help to flatten the abdomen while depressing the lower rib cage. This action also helps to maintain appropriate postural positioning of the torso and pelvis. The internal obliques, located beneath the external oblique, support the abdominal wall. It works along the external obliques for flexion. Lastly, the transverse abdominals, located beneath the internal obliques, are the deepest layer and contributes to thoracic and pelvic stability.
Another aspect not yet mentioned, is the transition or movement called ‘narrowing of the pelvis’. This activation contributes to relieving compression on the joints by allowing space to be created, which provides balance and support. This movement could be considered as the ‘energetic intention’ of the A&C movement. However, this energetic intention includes deep activation of the pelvic floor muscles. In short, ‘narrowing’ involves activating energy downward through the feet, inwardly engaging the core abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles, while lifting the spine upward. This, in turn, allows for enhanced movement quality.
With that said, it is important to know that only acknowledging the muscular and spinal necessities of the GYROKINESIS® and GYROTONIC® A&C is not the complete essence of these methods. However, developing an anatomical understanding could provide knowledge of how different parts of the body are connected and integrated (Price, 2010). Perhaps with acquiring different sources of information we can then relate more to our energetic and intuitive knowledge.
Kindall is a certified Gyrotonic Trainer in London
Other Works Cited
Clippinger, K. (2007). Dance anatomy and kinesiology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Nordin & Frankel. (2001). Basic biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system. [3rd ed.]. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, USA.
Price, J. Understanding muscles & movement: from theory to practice. (2010).
Smith, J. (2009). Moving beyond the neutral spine: stabilizing the dancer with lumbar extension dysfunction. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, 13(3), 63-82.
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