I became much more focused on my stretching after shattering my pelvis back in 2011. I realized that without stretching, my pain would be always at a heightened level. I am faithful about stretching, along with regular spinal manipulation, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory nutraceuticals, acupuncture, inversion table, low inflammatory foods, hydration, a low night shade diet, massage, heat and ice therapy, local TENS, proper ergonomics, exercise, proper mattress, topicals, the occasional natural injection, detoxification, a positive attitude and focusing on being happy to manage my pain.
I use good lumbar supports in my offices and car. I sleep with a pillow behind my knees when on my back (supine) and between my knees (prone). I maintain a regular stretching schedule.
Stretching is not only good for the body, but also with the proper breathing and focus, it is good for the mind and soul. Stretching is integral to VITAL health. Most of us don't take the time to stretch enough; we sit for long hours in offices, labor using our backs, exercise with intensity, do yard work, take long car rides and sit on crowded trains and planes. Stress tightens the muscles, as does cold weather. Toxins make muscles more inflamed and tight.
These stretches are a blend of my osteopathic musculoskeletal mechanics philosophy and yoga postures. They are progressive and based on the inhalation and exhalation of the breath. They work at the level of stretch receptors like the Golgi tendon apparatus and the muscle spindles that hold the muscles and tendons in a guarded fashion.
It is important to warm up before any stretch routine and not rush through the stretches. A light walk, hot shower or just moving about around the house is a good way to warm up. I recommend stretching once in the morning to get your body ready for the day and unravel any kinks created overnight, and once in the evening to prepare the body for a calm night’s sleep to get rid of any stress and tension from the day. I will often do stretches in the middle of chores or errands when my back tightens up. I also think that Tai chi and Qi gong are excellent movement and energetic practices that work very well for overall spinal health as well as energetic, VITAL health.
These stretches should be incorporated into your day and not limited to only those times when you are in pain or during workouts. When working out, I recommend a gentle warm up stretching routine followed by a progressive stretching afterwards.
1. Flexible bamboo
An excellent stretch for the hamstrings, lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine. It is a gentle downward flexion using bent knees to take the stress out of the sacroiliac joints.
2. Lumbar roll
A classic stretch where you lie on your back crossing your ankles, bringing your knees to the chest on your in exhalation. Reverse ankles and do it again and put your arms out like a cross and roll to hang your knee to the left and then to the right.
In the cow posture, your spine is in flexion primarily and in the cat posture it is in extension. Using the breath with this is very important.
You can do the modified cobra by coming up on your elbows or a full cobra by coming up on your hands (extreme extension), depending on your level of flexibility and tolerance. Make sure to keep the pelvis on the floor, otherwise the stretch is not as effective and remember to exhale into the stretch.
5. Progressive hamstring and piriformis
The hamstrings are a big player in terms of lumbar pain as they pull on the ischial tuberosities that tighten the pelvis and lower back. Put your foot of the non-stretching leg on the floor and keep a straight leg on the other side. You can use a towel if you don't have the ability to reach behind your ankle. At the end you can put your leg across your other knee in a number 4 posture, pushing your knee away from you that gives you a nice piriformis stretch. The piriformis is a muscle that is commonly tight and can cause pseudo-sciatica.
This puts your body into forward flexion and helps gap the spine. Remember to exhale and keep your feet tucked under your butt.
7. Pelvis release technique
This is great for lumbar and sacroiliac pain. In this posture you lie on the floor putting your knees up at 90 degrees supported underneath. Breathe deeply, relax, focus or meditate if you like. You will feel the ligaments of your lumbar and sacroiliac region release.
Do not ever stretch to the point of pain, remember to focus and certainly never rush a stretching routine. Use a comfortable padded mat or rug. Don’t stretch in bed. Stretching programs are also good for your lymphatic system, overall health and helps quiet the mind. Remember when we hold our breath, we are tight, and when we exhale our breath, we are loose.
Always see a qualified practitioner to get the proper diagnosis and treatment before starting a stretching or exercise program if you have acute or chronic pain, especially if you have associated nerve pain or new weakness.
Wishing you a True VITALITY and freedom from pain!
~Dr. Dave, Venus and the Oasis TEAM
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This blog is for informational purposes only. It is NOT intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a licensed, qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice.