Most Americans spend the majority of their day at a desk hunched over a computer.  Sound familiar?  This leads to tightness in your back and for some it is outright painful.  The root of back pain and stiffness often results from the lack of activity in a person’s routine.  Other factors such as age, family history, or prior injuries can also contribute to the problem.

Regardless of your situation, stretching can go a long way to improve your spinal mobility and preventing injury.  Stretching keeps your muscles and ligaments flexible, improves circulation, and can even be relaxing. Over time, you will also notice a difference in your range of motion and overall flexibility.  The longer you stretch, the more beneficial it will be to your body.

Here are some of our favorites that you can do literally do at home:

Cat/Cow Stretch:
You may have tried this in yoga class and is beneficial to stretch your back and hips while realigning the spine.  Start on your hands and knees on all fours.  To start, suck your belly button in towards your stomach.  As you exhale, slowly round your spine toward the ceiling, draw your chin to your chest (the cat).  Inhale again and round your back while lifting your head and tailbone to the sky (the cow).  Repeat each exercise 10x’s.

Touching Your Toes:
Have you ever noticed how easy it is for kids to touch their toes but as you age, your ability to stretch decreases?  This simple stretch allows you to increase mobility to your spine and hamstrings.

Knees to chest:
A great stretch for your low back.  Simply lie on your back and bring your knees to chest and interlace your fingers under your knees.  A modification of this stretch is to bring one leg into your chest while straightening the other leg.  Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds before switching legs.

Spinal Twist:
Spinal twists stretch the back and glutes while massaging the spine.  If you have had a recent knee surgery, generative disc disease, or have chronic knee or hip pain.  To start, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Bring one leg into your chest while straightening the other leg. Gently guide the bent leg across your body and hold your body in a twisted position and look in the opposite direction.  Hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds before switching legs.

Childs Pose:
Another classic yoga pose where you are literally curled in a ball.  Not only do you enjoy a nice spinal stretch, many people find the pose relaxing.    Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes together and sit back on your heels and separate your knees hip width distance apart.  Stretch your hands out in front of you and lay your palms facing towards the ground.  To deepen the stretch, have a friend gently press down on your lower back as you exhale your breath.

If you have any questions about stretching exercises for your spine or experience back pain, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or healthy care professional.

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