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Friday, March 9, 2012

Best 4 stretches for your back!

Side stretch for back pain.
According to a recent study, the average American worker spends nearly 6 hours each day sitting at their desk. If you spend your day sitting at a desk or behind the wheel, you may feel as though your back is stiff and your shoulders are so tense and lifted so high that you have to peel them from the ceiling. Sound familiar? If this hits close to home, here are 4 stretches you simply must do to counteract the hours spent sitting. Try to hold each stretch for 5-10 breaths. Remember to keep breathing while you hold the stretch.
  1. Chest Expansion – Stand with your legs hip width apart, knees soft. Inhale as you reach your arms behind you, bringing your hands towards your lower back. You can place your palms on your lower back and bring your elbows towards one another, while keeping your elbows slightly bent. If that is not enough of a stretch, you can interlace your fingers (your palms will be facing one another) and begin to work to straighten your arms. You will be sending your hands towards the floor. Be sure to keep your elbows soft if you have clasped hands. Whether your hands are resting on your back or are clasped, allow your shoulders relax back and down.
  2. Sphinx Pose – Begin by lying on your stomach, legs extended and placed on the floor hip width apart. Place your forearms on the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders, palms flat on the floor. Gently draw in your abdominal muscles and lengthen through the crown of your head. Press gently through your hands and forearms as you lengthen your spine, lifting your chest away from the floor as far as you feel comfortable. Although your chest and top of your abdomen will be lifted, keep your hips and legs grounded. Draw your shoulders down your back.
  3. Lying Twist – Roll over onto your back and bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out to the sides, as if creating the letter “T” on the floor, and place your palms down on the floor. Slowly lower both legs to one side, while keeping your shoulders relaxed and connected to the floor. Lower your legs as far as you are comfortable and as long as you can keep both shoulders on the floor. If your legs reach the ground, keep both knees bent and stack one knee on top of the other. Your gaze can remain up toward the ceiling or look toward the hand that is opposite of your legs. After holding the stretch for 5-10 breaths, switch sides.
  4. Restorative Savasana (pronounced sha-va-sana) – A few minutes in this yummy, relaxing pose and you will feel like you’ve taken a great nap! Take a blanket or towel and fold it up lengthwise so that it is several inches off of the floor. You may need to use several towels or blankets for added support. A bolster or pillow will also work. From a seated position and with extended legs, place the towel, blanket, bolster, or pillow lengthwise directly behind you. The edge of your blanket or bolster should rest by your hips but do not sit on it. Slowly lower onto the blanket or bolster. Your hips will remain on the ground but your torso and head will be supported by the blanket or bolster. You may want to place another folded blanket or towel or small pillow under your head for additional support. Allow your arms to rest by your sides. You will feel an opening through your chest and shoulders. You can keep the legs extended or bend your knees and place your feet on the floor if you are protecting your lower back. Close your eyes and enjoy!
All the information presented by HEALTHeME is for educational purposes only, intended to help you make informed decisions about fitness issues. This information is NOT a substitute for any advice given to you by your physician. Always consult your health care provider before beginning any nutrition or exercise program. Use of the programs, advice, and information from HEALTHeME is at the sole choice and risk of the reader.