There is one exercise that has been consistent with every, single practitioner that I’ve worked with since my accident, and that’s bridging. If you don’t know what it means, you’re not alone, as it’s common in yoga and some other practices but not your every day gym workout fodder like pushups, situps, lunges, etc.
Bridging involves lying flat on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, then lifting up your pelvis and torso so that you have more or less a straight line from the tops of your knees down to your shoulders. (Ok if my description was no good, feel free to jump to the video at the end of the post and come back to keep reading….). It’s not a massively complicated movement, but in its simplicity lies its importance.
I started trying to bridge shortly after my accident but I needed a lot of help. Whoever was with me had to hold my knees in a bent position, apply enough pressure to my feet to keep them from sliding, then literally left my entire torso for me (usually using straps of some kind) while I tried to visualize the movement. I would try and try and try, I would dig my elbows into the ground and attempt with all my limited might to somehow get my core up into the air and hold it there. I would think back to all the yoga classes I had gone to, in which bridging was a relatively painless task, and I would try to summon my spirit. But without any motor control of my abs, hips or legs, and with my knees flopping around from side to side, it felt like my torso weighed a thousand pounds and that lifting that mess of organs, bones and muscles would slight me forever.
Fast forward to a few days ago, following up on the work I did in Maui where I was finally able to start using my glutes and hamstrings and better engaging my back and abs, and here’s what happened:
I was thrilled. Especially since the therapist is giving me minimal assistance and just helping me with my knees a bit. She even lets go of me completely once I hold my pelvis up in the bridge.
There are few exercises that are so consistently emphasized by every practitioner in SCI recovery so I recognize the importance of this accomplishment. One of my therapists told me that in his experience, everyone who he knew who had recovered the ability to walk could bridge; that it was essential to the necessary movements of walking.
For me it’s validating to know that after literally thousands and thousands of struggled repetitions over the span of almost two years, I was finally able to unquestionably accomplish this movement which had seemed near impossible for so long. It is just a small step, and it’s not perfect yet, but it’s one less thing on my giant recovery to do list.
39 thoughts on “Bridging to the future”
I especially admire your ability to do this as I can’t – it’s too painful for me. Even before my back surgery, I couldn’t do it.
I know how much core muscle strength it takes to do this too, so know how far you’ve come in your healing journey.
It has been a long time coming, no doubt about it. Thanks for the support. Hopefully you are also getting stronger everyday! Best to you -AB
Bravo! The news is great, but your video says/shows it all. As some know all too well, the path to “recovery” is never clear and is more of an on-going journey without a precise final destination per se. With that understood I infer no false hopes when I say in my heart I know YOU WILL GET THERE. It is pure joy to witness your progress along the way.
Stay tuned, Carey (Perry’s husband @ SCI-FIT)
Thanks so much Carey. You’re right that there is no real destination and that this recovery is a long process but this was a nice milestone. Your support means a lot to me. Thank you for your faith in me. Always great to see you and Perry and share this journey with you -AB
Wow, absolutely fantastic! You are such an inspiration, thanks much for sharing this with us!
Thank you for following my journey -AB
Fantastic Arash! I’m thrilled that you are thrilled!
Thrilled, thrilled thrilled. Yes indeed. 🙂 -AB
Bloody awesome! I’m so happy and pleased for you! Sure, it’s a slow process but I KNOW you will get there in the end! xo
That’s what I keep telling myself and what allows me to stay on this path, knowing that I will get there. I’m grateful for your positive words and thoughts. -AB
you are making the right connection—bridge goes from one point to another. great result from your heroic efforts. thank you for sharing the good news!
Thank you as always for reading and supporting. Looking forward to seeing where this bridge goes next… -AB
WOW! Arash this is amazing! Great milestone!!! WOW!!!
Thanks so much -AB
A good step forward no doubt about it cuz. -AB
Is that the official call of the new wine business person? 😉 -AB
That is significant! Congrats!
Thank you much -AB
Wow! Fab, fab fab Arash. Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂
Thank YOU for continuing to read and support my journey -AB
Arash, way to keep going! Your constant work ethic and resulting improvement is definitely worth the effort. Congrats! Sam.
Sent from my iPad
Thank you Sam. No doubt that any improvement is worth the effort. Hope you’re well -AB
That is amazing!! I’m so very impressed with your progress! Sending you good energy!
I’m happily accepting that good energy you sent. -AB
WOW….Bridging is indeed a huge accomplishment Arash, well done!!! Glutes are really hard to work, I’m really impressed with what you’re achieving. On the video I can see how much better your muscles are…I guess hard work and repetition does pays off!
I hope your last post about comparison wasn’t because of my reply to your previous post…I know full well that we shouldn’t compare ourselves…I was trying to share not compare.
I look forward to your next post…somehow I believe you will walk!!!
Not at all my friend. I fully realize what you meant with your last comments and I appreciate you sharing with me. I’m grateful for your continued support and positive words. I’ll take your word and accept that my leg muscles are indeed stronger. Now it’s just a matter of strengthening that mental connection and increasing my control. Best to you -AB
Go you! I too believe you will walk again.
Thank you for your faith and support -AB
That is amazing!!! Woweeee! Great to see the muscle definition in your legs coming back. I can only try to imagine how great this feels to you. Bravo, my friend. Your determination is incredible and inspiring.
It does feel amazing to have this accomplishment. Thanks so much for following and supporting me. -AB
ARASH THIS IS WONDERFUL! I also have started bridging on my own and was planning on making a blog about it, so dont think im a copy cat lol. Proud of you! Glad to see continual progress!
Thanks! That’s great to hear that you can do the bridging too. Copy away! I’d love to see your progress -AB
[…] movements that I had in my legs were all based on a single movement pattern. Since I was first able to start bridging and standing up independently with a walker, I’ve contracted my leg muscles using a specific […]