Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mick's up With Stretches

Is your back stressed, during this Stress Awareness Month?

If you have a job, like I do, which involves sitting for most of the day... or even if your job includes standing for most of the day (like I used to)... then your back is probably screaming at you for help.  Our back muscles can tighten up and let us know that we need to do something about it.

Did you know?  As we take a good look at stress... that it is actually a cause of back pain, too!  Yes, our stress can actually settle in our backs and cause us physical pain.  So, one thing to do is: Try to decrease the stress in your life.  I know:  That's easier said than done.

Tangent alert!
Stress was originally created to be a good thing (you know, saving us from a life or death situation, by using the fight or flight instinct).  However, we tend to hold on to stress for the long haul, which wears down bodies to cause pain and illness.  What can you do today to start the process of relieving yourself of stress?

As I mention in my post on Muscles and Spine Health, chiropractic care can help you know if the pain is skeletal or muscular or both.  In that article, I talk about stretches that might alleviate back pain.  Since then, I have learned some more stretches that can also be helpful.

Remember, too, to work on your core muscles.  That means, strengthen all those muscles in the middle of your body, such as your abs, obliques, latissimus dorsi, etc.  You can find a variety of exercises to add to your workout routine to help build up that strength and balance.


Also, remember good posture!  I have to admit that I recently realized I've been a bit lax in pulling in my tummy, whether I'm standing, walking, running, or sitting.  Conscientiously tightening up those tummy muscles, during normal daily activities, surprisingly will improve your condition.

So, what are some of these stretches?

Well, as mentioned in the previously published post, which I have conveniently included for you below, hamstring stretches are a wonderful help for low back pain relief.  You can lay on the floor and stretch as directed in that article, and you can include stretches shown in the video link at the end of this post.  (With one leg straight up in the air, bend it at the knee, and then straighten again.  Repeat several times.)  

You can also stand on one leg, while resting the other leg straight out on a step or some sturdy object that is at a comfortable height for you.  Gently bend forward at the waist, toward your raised leg's knee.  Hold for several seconds, return your torso to an upright position, relax, and then repeat.

My favorite recent discovery is that the psoas also affects the low back.  

Can I interject something here?  Of course I can!  It's my blog!  Well, I just have to say that I am forever grateful for my former job with Curves. (Thank you, Dawn and Rosslyn!!)  I learned so much wonderful information!  Not only did I get to assist ladies with improving their lives through nutrition and exercise, but I also got to use science in it all (explaining to the members how they are using their muscles, like the psoas and obliques, etc.).  Yes, I admit it.  I love science!

OK. Thanks.  Now, back to stretches.

There are a couple of ways to stretch the psoas.  One way is to do a lunge.  That means you step forward with one foot (a really big step forward), and drop your back leg down toward the floor.  Be sure your front knee does not go past your toes (to avoid too much pressure on the knee, so as not to cause knee pain).  Keep that back leg straight, rather than letting that back knee drop all the way to the floor.  If your back knee stays off the floor, you'll get a better stretch.  Hold for several seconds, and then repeat.  

Another way to do this stretch is in a standing position.  While standing on one leg, place the other leg on a step or other sturdy object at a comfortable height, and as you bend that leg, lean in toward your knee.  I like to pair this stretch with the standing hamstring stretch I just mentioned in above.

So, now the ball is in your court.

It's up to you to find out if your back pain is from your skeleton or from your muscles.  Start by getting the bones checked out first.  They are the foundation of your body.  That foundation needs to be safe.  Then, you can start working on getting those muscles to do what they're supposed to do... oh, and start working on not being stressed out.

Stretching is an amazing thing!  Unfortunately, we don't do it enough.  Now's the time to do something about that!


Post from
October 18, 2011

Mick’s in with Muscles and Spine Health


"Chiropractic just makes you feel so much better.
When I walk out of the clinic, I feel like I'm about three inches taller and everything's in place.
And as long as I see the chiropractor, I feel like I'm one step ahead of the game."
Tom Brady3 Super Bowl Championship Rings MVP award winner Quarterback - New England Patriots

After doing some sort of exercise, like climbing a mountain, there might be some pains and other consequences to deal with.  You know what I mean.  We 40-something moms really know what I mean.

In reality, addressing certain things, like spinal health, before exercise is the best way to go.  Be sure you know what’s going on with your spine, before you get too serious about your exercise regimen.  “Depending on the extent of your [subluxations] and posture misalignment the doctor may have you abstain from certain high input activities that may adversely affect your spine.” (Nikitow Chiropractic Wellness Center )

Something I learned, and for which I am truly and forever grateful, is that not all back pain is due to subluxation.  I tend to have lots of lower back pain.  Yes, some of it is due to tailbone issues, and some is because of curvature in my spine, of which I am on a quest to correct.  However, some of it... in fact, a lot of it is also due to tightness in my muscles.

So you deal with low back pain?  If so, try stretching out your muscles.  Not only is it good for flexibility and reducing overall tension in the body, but targeting certain areas can have an incredible affect on your back pain.  Hamstrings tend to be the biggest culprit, when muscles are to blame for low back tension.

Try this exercise:
WebMD:  Good and Bad Exercises for Low Back PainLay on your back, with one leg straight up in the air, the back of it against the wall.  (You’ll need to do this in a doorway, so your other leg can be resting flat on the floor.)  Push with your leg against the wall, holding for 20 seconds or so, and then release.  Move your body closer to the wall, causing more tension in your leg.  Repeat the push and release.

If you have someone who can help you, it works much better.  Your assistant will push your leg toward you, causing the resistance.

Hamstring Stretch
Tight hamstrings can restrict movement of the pelvis, which can cause a compensatory increase in rounding of the low back.  This increases the forces on the lumbar spine during forward bending, which can lead to injuries in the low back.  However, there are many causes of low back pain, with tight hamstrings being only one of many potential contributors to the problem.  Additional causative factors and potential treatments should be explored with a health care professional. ” (National Academy of Sports Medicine)

“The sensation of tightness in the hamstrings can be due to various reasons.  Typically it can be from poor postures, altered movement and walking patterns, or compensation due to other muscles being weak such as the gluteal muscles.  The hamstrings attach to the bottom of your pelvis.  With tightness, it can pull on the pelvis causing it to put more stress on the pelvis and back.  In these cases, education to mildly elongate or stretch the hamstrings may help.  Regardless, it is more important to retrain the proper strength and movement patterns of the legs and trunk so proper mechanics of the back can be restored.

“Sometimes tightness in the hamstrings can also be a protective mechanism from underlying nerve pathology in the sciatic nerve.  We have seen patients trying to stretch their hamstrings and instead develop sciatica as stretching irritated the nerve rather than stretch the muscle.  Further differential diagnosis of the hamstrings and their relationship to low back pain should be determined by a qualified health care practitioner.” (Brian Yee)

As the experts say, low back pain can be caused by a multitude of things.  The only way to know for sure the status of your spine health is by having a chiropractor view an x-ray of it.  What better time to go to your nearest corrective-care, principled chiropractor’s office to get an x-ray of your spine than during October:  Chiropractic Awareness Month?!


Jabez cried out to the God of Israel,
“Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!
Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm
so that I will be free from pain.”
And God granted his request.


A recent video (early 2013) shows more ways to stretch hamstrings, as well as strengthen your core:
Dr. Lombardozzi at Kempsville Chiropractic


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