Stretching as Part of a Healthy Pain Free You

| September 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

If you are suffering from lower back or hip pain, you are not alone. In our current age of technology, many of us find ourselves sitting in front of the computer for most of the day. All of this sitting can cause tightness in the hamstrings, shoulders, and hip flexors, as well as a weakening of the core (abdominals, lower back, and glutes). If you also are a side sleeper in fetal position, which I love, you sleep with your hamstrings contracted. Unfortunately, over time, sitting and sleeping in these fashions, shortens our hamstrings as they “live” in a contracted state.

The Psoas, which is our deepest hip flexor, is directly connected to our lumbar spine. So if our hip flexors get tight, from sitting and sleeping as mentioned, they will begin to tug uncomfortably at the lower spine, thus causing stiffness and achiness in the lower back and uncomfortable hip pain. Stretching solves all of this, but ya gotta do it, and do it intentionally, and do it consistently, to reap benefits.

Sitting at a computer all day or on your phone most of the day? Forward sloping shoulders, forward tilted head, shoulders rolled forward holding the keyboard or phone, all lead to back pain; upper, mid and lower. Ever wonder why you cannot hold your shoulders back and have better posture? If I sit in forward posture to use the keyboard all day, my pectoral muscles are actually in a contracted; shortened state of being, while my back muscles are in more of a stretch posture.  Live this way and do nothing about it leads us down the path of poor posture and more pain.

Fortunately, regularly stretching can help reverse some of this tightness. Here are a few easy stretches that can be done just about anywhere to relieve lower back and hip pain. We seldom find time to stretch, and if we find the time, we often do not know what to do. Follow along and see if you can incorporate these simple moves.

Child Pose

Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Bring your big toes together and take your knees out wide.

Sit your hips back on your heels, and walk your hands forward until you can lower your forehead to the ground.

Once your forehead is on the ground, continue walking your hands out in front of you until your arms are straight. Then, let your arms relax on the ground. Try to keep your shoulders away from your ears. Hold for 30 seconds.

Shoulder Shrug

Stand with feet at hip width.

Allow your shoulders to roll forward as if gravity is pulling your arms to the ground. You will feel your back muscles stretch as you do this.

Roll your shoulders skyward and backward in sequence and as they roll backward, squeeze your shoulder blades together as if trying to hold a pencil between your shoulder blades.  Do 10 reps minimum.

Figure Four Stretch

Begin by lying down on your back. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground, hips- width distance apart.

Bend your right knee and place your right ankle above your left knee on the thigh. Loop your right hand through your legs and interlace your hands behind your left thigh.

Keep your head and shoulders on the ground as your draw the left thigh towards you. Feel the stretch through your outer right hip. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch sides.

Doorway Chest Stretch

Walk to any doorway. Grab the door jams palms open facing the jam you are essentially walking through.

Play with several heights of hand combinations. At each level you will feel slight variations in stretch in your chest and shoulders.

Once you have established a hand position, simply lean forward slightly, with arms outstretched, holding the door jam. Take six or seen deep breaths while in stretch position, which should account for 15 to 20 seconds of holding the stretch.

Sumo Adductor Stretch

Begin standing with your feet out wide, heels in, and toes pointing out at a 45-degree angle.

Squat low like you are going to sit into a chair and then place your hands on your inner thighs.

Press your thighs open to feel a stretch through the inner thighs and groin. Hold for 30 seconds.

Your car backup camera is a great convenience, but it ends the need to rotate your shoulder plane, hips, spine, and oblique’s to look out the rear view glass. Not much in life requires rotation; hence, as you age you lose the ability, partly due to muscle inactivity/loss and partly due to losing flexibility TO rotate.  A good life plan is a workout that is either begun, ended, or both with stretching. It helps prevent injury, as well as keeping us in balance in terms of the muscles exertion on their insertion sites in our bones. Out of balance muscles pulling on bones, creates strain, misalignment and pain, while “in balance” creates harmony. You have to be intentional about this though, as just like working out and eating clean, you have to chip away at it. Be Intentional!

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