S-T-R-E-T-C-H-I-N-G is good for your health

Warm up, loosen up in just 10 minutes a day

Cats do it. Dogs do it. Even birds and bears do it. Stretching comes naturally to most species. But all too often, we humans don’t take time to perform this important exercise. Why do we need to stretch? As we age, muscles tighten up and get dehydrated leading to stiffness, fatigue and joint pain. I see it all too often in my San Rafael practice. It’s important to stay limber and keep your spine supple to help with balance, posture, range of motion and walking. Stretching is especially helpful in cool weather when more sports injuries occur due to tight muscles that aren’t ready to perform. That’s why I give every new patient a hand-out from the Texas Back Institute illustrating

woman performing lower back strengthening exercise

10 easy stretches to do in just 10 minutes a day. I’m also a big fan of yoga for keeping your body flexible and your mind focused. 10 moves, 10 minutes Take time in the morning or evening (or both) for your stretching routine. My mantra is brush, floss and stretch. If you sit at a desk most of the day, get up frequently, walk around, and do some easy stretches. Remember, sitting is the new smoking! Here are 10 simple stretches to get your day off to a good start. Perform them in this order for best results. Hold each stretch for a count of 10 and remember to breathe! 1. Low Back Loosener – Lying on your back with right leg straight, hug your left knee to your chest with hands on back of your thigh. Repeat on other side. 2. Side-of-Hip Stretch – Lie on your back with legs straight on the floor. Bring left knee in toward your chest. Grasping the knee with both hands, pull the leg up and across the body toward your right shoulder. Repeat on other side. 3. Front-of-Body Lengthener – Lying on your stomach, place hands under shoulders, elbows bent. Slowly push up, raising shoulders and chest from the floor. Straighten arms as much as possible while keeping hips in contact with the floor. 4. Front-of-Hip Stretch – Kneel on a towel with your left knee and place both hands on your right thigh bent in front of you. Keeping your back straight, shift hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of upper left thigh. Don’t let your right knee bend past your right foot. Repeat with right leg. 5. Back-of-Thigh Untightener – Lie on your back with a rolled-up towel under your lower back, legs extended. Place a cord or elastic band around your right heel and slowly raise the leg until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Repeat on other side. 6. Lower Back Strengthener - Lie on your back with heels close to buttocks. Slowly raise your pelvis and lower back off the floor until thighs and back are in a straight line. 7. Abdominal Firmer – Lie on your back with heels close to your buttocks. Reach your hands between your thighs. Exhaling, slowly curl up until shoulder blades leave the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. 8. Waist Shaper – Lie on your left side with legs bent at hips and knees. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor. 9. Whole Back Strengthener – Lie face down, arms along your sides. Exhaling, slowly lift shoulders and chest off the floor. 10. Low Back Releaser – Lie on your back with knees bent, heels close to buttocks. Keep shoulders flat and arms outstretched to the sides. Slowly lower your knees to the left, gently twisting hips and lower back. Breathe into your back, then lower knees to the right. You’re done! The combination of stretching and chiropractic adjustments will keep your spine in alignment for maximum range-of-motion. Call me to get on my schedule and I’ll give you the illustrated Texas Back Institute sheet for your at-home practice.

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