Be Kind To Your Back

Performing stretching exercises first thing in the morning is a great way to  start your day refreshed and more limber. If you cannot do it every day, 2-3  times per week can still help improve your flexibility and may reduce your pain.

Types of stretches
The following are examples of stretches that may be helpful for people with back pain. Each one can be done 3-5 times or as many times as you are comfortable. Remember to breathe during the stretch. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise or stretching routine.

Neck Stretches
1) Stand with your feet flat on the floor, knees slightly bent, head forward.
2) Tilt your head slowly forward, bringing your chin toward your chest.
3) Turn your head to the left very slowly until your chin aligns with your left shoulder. Repeat to the right.
4) Tilt your head slowly to the left, bringing your ear over your left shoulder. Repeat to the right.
5) Return to the starting position

Shoulder Rolls
1) Stand with your feet flat on the floor, knees slightly bent, head forward.
2) Using slow, fluid movements, roll your shoulders forward 10 times beginning with little circles and progressing to larger circles.
3) Repeat step 2 rotating your shoulders backwards.
4) Return to the starting position

Hamstring Stretch (lying down)
1) Lie flat on your back with your knees bent.
2) Grasp one leg behind the thigh and slowly bring it toward your chest.
3) Pull until a gentle stretch is felt. Hold.
4) Return to the starting position.
5) Repeat with other leg.

Hamstring Stretch (standing)
1) Stand with one leg straight out in front of you, resting your leg on a table or chair.
2) Slowly bend the leg you are standing on until you feel a mild stretch under the thigh of the raised leg. Hold.
3) Return to the starting position.
4) Repeat with other leg.

Hip twists
1) Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. 
2) Keeping your back flat on the floor, slowly rotate your hips to the left, lowering your legs down to the floor until you feel a mild stretch. Hold.
3) Return to the starting position.
4) Repeat step 2 rotating your hips to the right. Hold.
5) Return to the starting position

Back extensions
1) Lie on your stomach.
2) Prop yourself up on your elbows extending your back.
3) Slowly begin to straighten your elbows, further extending your back, until you feel a mild stretch. Hold.
4) Return to the starting position

Increasing your flexibility to the full range of motion may take time, especially  if you are new to stretching or have had chronic back pain for some time. But don’t give up. Be encouraged with even small improvements in your flexibility. Even if it takes several months, in time you will see and feel a difference.

Don’t rush through your routine; keep your movements fluid and precise.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise or stretching program to make certain there are no restrictions in the type of stretching you should do.

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