Hey guys, Dr. Lell here. Do you ever feel like your spine is just one solid wooden block? It’s that stiffness that greets you in the morning and says goodnight at the end of a long day. I’ll have patients that come in complaining of it. They’re right to come and get it checked out. Constant stiffness can often turn into headaches, shoulder pain, jaw pain, hip pain, and low back pain. Sometimes it can be caused by something more serious than the old mattress. The adjustment always limbers them up but that feeling of tightness and stiffness has an annoying way of coming back. So before they leave, I always show them my favorite whole body stretch routine. I like that it keeps their muscles and joints limber and healthy. They like that it keeps them out of my office and that they’re able to take charge of their own health.
So here it is. My top 5 stretches for a healthy spine (and for fewer visits to the Chiropractor)
1 – The Cat/Camel
This is great for targeting the low back. On all fours, place your fists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Lift your head up while you put a dip in your low back as if you’re moving your belly button towards the floor. Then bring your chin to your chest as you put an arc or hump in your back like an angry cat.
2 – The Sphinx
This is great for targeting the middle back and base of the neck. It’s the same as the Cat/Camel but your fists are very close to your knees. The motion in the low back is now emphasized in the mid and upper back.
3 – Open Book
This is a good one for that hard to isolate transition area between your mid and lower back as well as your chest and shoulders.. Get on the floor on your side. Make sure there’s something supporting you head. Have you knees and hips bent to 90 degrees and stretch your arms straight out in front of you, one on top of the other, with your finger tips touching. Slide your top hand farther than your bottom hand and then roll the upper body over. The arms are supposed to look like a book opening. Let your head follow but don’t let your hips, legs, or knees move. Be sure to do the other side.
4 – Brugger’s
This is a great one for the neck and upper back and a must-do for the desk-workers and headache sufferers. Sitting or standing, make sure you have good posture. Pick up your head and look straight. Draw your chin straight back (not up or down, your eyes shouldn’t change their degree to the horizon) and try to touch your shoulder blades together. Hold the squeeze. You’re doing it right if you get a double chin, talk funny, and your chest opens up.
5 – The frog leg
A great one for tight hips and the low back. Start on all fours, rotate the hips out so that the bottoms of your heels touch and the insides of your ankles touch the floor. Keep those locked. Try to get your pelvis and chest flat on the floor. The insides of your knees should be touching the floor as you get closer to the ground.
And there you have it. These five stretches will keep away most back pains, hip pains, neck pains, and headaches. Remember, most biomechanical conditions not resulting from trauma are due to the way you move (or don’t move). So move well and often!
As always if you have any questions, comments, or want to see a blog about something specific – just drop a line! Like me on Facebook, Michael Lell, DC or Instagram, LellDC, for regular updates on blogs and great tips for good health.