There’s an old adage: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true when it comes to our bodies. Prevention is the name of the game for optimal health. In the quest for a healthy lifestyle, people often forget about spine health, unless they have back problems. Stretching correctly is both therapeutic for the aching back and a preventive practice for a healthy back.
How Stretching Helps Your Spine
Your spine is one of the main workhorses of your body. It needs to be flexible in all directions: side to side, front to back. It carries the majority of your body’s weight, and it protects your spinal cord. Stretching helps keep the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones in your spine moving and working correctly. Your muscles and ligaments retain flexibility with stretching exercises. This practice also increases the flow of nutrients throughout your body via the bloodstream.
There is a reduction of stress on joints when you stretch. In some cases, these conditions are decreased by regular stretching. In other cases, stretching will eliminate stiffness and limitation of movement. When you stretch before and after exercising, it helps the muscles cool down and prevents strains and soreness. Stretching before exercise is particularly important, as this readies the muscles for more intense movement. Warming up with stretching will lessen the likelihood of injuries to your muscles.
The Top Stretches for the Spine
These exercises are going to be helpful for everyone, and if you suffer from back pain you may find them particularly helpful.
- Neck stretch – With your feet flat on the floor, head forward and knees bent a little, slowly tilt your head forward to touch your chin to your chest. Slowly turn your head to the left, aligning your chin with your left shoulder then repeat the movement on the right side. Next, looking forward, tilt your head to the left, bringing your ear to the left shoulder and repeat on the right. Return to the starting position. Repeat 3-5 times.
- Shoulder Rolls – These stretches are very good for those working long hours at the computer. With the same starting position as above, roll your shoulders forward in a small circular motion and progress to larger circles. Do this ten times. Repeat the motion in reverse. Do 3-5 sets of shoulder rolls to relieve muscle fatigue.
- Hamstring Stretches – There are two types of hamstring stretches. For the first, lie flat on your back. Bend your knees and grasp one leg behind your thigh. Slowly bring it toward your cheek and pull until you feel a gentle stretch. Hold this position for a few seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other leg. You can do 3-5 sets or more if you like. For the second type of hamstring stretch, stand with one leg straight out in front, resting on a table or chair. Bend the leg you are standing on slightly until you feel the stretch in your raised leg. Hold for a few seconds then change legs.
- Hip Twists – While lying flat on your back, bend your knees and rotate your hips to the left, lowering your legs to the floor. You should feel a little stretch. Hold the position for a few seconds. Return to the starting position and rotate to the right and hold again. Return to the starting position again and repeat the set a few times.
- Back Extensions – Lie on your stomach and prop yourself on your elbows. Extend your spine while slowly straightening your elbows. You’ll feel your back stretch as you extend it more. Hold this position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Do 3-5 sets or more.
Keeping your spine flexible is important for mobility and general health. These exercises will help in re-establishing flexibility if you’ve lost it due to injury or lack of movement. As with any exercise program, check with your doctor before you start. Don’t do any exercises that your doctor advises against.
If you get the green light, begin slowly and work up to more repetitions. If you can only do one or two sets, to begin with, that’s okay. You can always work up to more.
Staying healthy is something we promote to all our clients, friends and family at our Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., law office of Port Charlotte, FL. We believe in prevention and living a healthy lifestyle; that’s why you’ll see us out and about in the community, participating in healthy living activities. We invite you to browse our website. Let us know if we can be of assistance to you in legal matters. We are trial lawyers who care, and when you need us, we’re available. Contact us if you want to talk about legal representation.