When you suffer from joint or muscle pain, it is important to work on maintaining as much flexibility as possible. The more flexible you are, the less likely you will be to further injure yourself. One of the best ways to improve your flexibility is by stretching before you are active.
However, you need to warm up your muscles before you stretch. If you stretch first, you can actually injure yourself by pushing your joints too far. Spend a few minutes doing some light activity before you stretch. This can be as simple as a brisk walk or some basic calisthenics.
If you have been seeing a chiropractor, he or she may be able to recommend some stretches for you. Otherwise, you can use some of these basic techniques. There are two basic forms of stretching, static and dynamic.
Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching
Static stretches involve holding a position for a certain period of time to loosen up your muscles. These tend to be what most people think of when they think about stretching. However, dynamic stretches are also important. With these, you move parts of your body to work on your flexibility.
Many of the most effective stretches for back pain can be done right at home. For example, lie on your back with your knees bent. Grasp one knee in both hands and pull it up towards your chest. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then lower the knee to the starting pose. Repeat with the other knee. You can also do both knees at the same time.
A similar stretch begins in the same position as the previous one. However, instead of lifting your knee to your chest, roll both legs to one side so that your knees are as close to the floor as possible. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and then roll to the other side.
Another common stretch recommended by many chiropractors comes from yoga, where it is known as the “cat pose.” Get down on the floor on your hands and knees, with your hands underneath your shoulders. First, let your abdomen drop down towards the floor. Then, reverse this movement by arching your back. Repeat this cycle three to five times.
More dynamic stretches can also be good for your muscle pain. Try doing handwalks to stretch your shoulders and abdominal muscles. Stand up straight and slowly lower your hands towards the floor. Walk your hands out in front of you until you are as far down as you can go. Then walk your hands back to the starting position.
A final stretch that can help your back muscles is known as the “scorpion.” Lie face-down and stretch your arms out to the sides. First, slowly move your right foot towards your left arm. Then, move your left foot towards your right arm. Make sure to move in a slow and controlled fashion.
When you are suffering from muscle or joint pain, it is a good idea to stretch both in the morning and the evening. By incorporating these exercises into your daily routine, you can avoid many common injuries.
Dr. Howard Austrager, a board certified chiropractic neurologist, has been helping local residents with their aches and pains at his chiropractic office in Framingham for the past 16 years. Visit www.metrowestspineclinic.com or call 508-620-1585 for more information.