Morning stretches are a great way to warm up for the day and keep your back healthy. Flexibility is a key ingredient to overall spinal health.
Keep in mind that stretches are to be performed slowly and mindfully.
The goal is to gently wake up your spine - not shock it into submission. I prefer to stretch in a quiet area by myself. For some, this time may be the only time they have during the day to enjoy a moment of peace.
These are three stretches that I give to a lot of my patients to prevent low back pain, sciatica, and vertebral disc injury.
- Knees to Chest: While lying on your back, bend your knees and gently pull them to your chest. Hold for 10-15 seconds and then straighten your legs back to the lying position. Do this 5-7 times. This targets the muscles along the spine.
- Scissors Stretch: While lying on your back and your arms stretched out like a “T”, bring your right leg over your left leg so that your right toe is trying to touch your left hand (a scissors position). It is not important that you can actually touch your hand. It is more important to keep your shoulders on the ground to ensure a good stretch. You should feel the stretch in your right gluteus muscles (butt). Then switch to the other side (left leg over right and touch left hand). Do 3-5 times.
- Piriformis Stretch: While on your back, bend your knees and then place your right foot on your left knee. Grab your left leg and pull it towards your chest. This will stretch the right piriformis muscle (which can be associated with sciatica). Hold for 10-15 seconds and then switch legs. Do three times each side.
These three stretches are staples to keeping a healthy low back. If you have an existing injury, please do not perform these stretches - stretching can cause unwanted strain to the injury. Please see a certified health practitioner if you have a preexisting injury or concern.
Be good to yourself and gentle with your body.
Dr. Jerry Gould is a local chiropractor in Hamilton. When not at his office, he can be found at the playground with his four daughters, riding his bike around the North Shore, or writing stories about Elephants in an effort to follow his bliss. Read more at straightspine.com.