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Stretching exercise benefits the soft tissues, muscles, ligaments and tendons. This is particularly beneficial for those suffering from chronic back pain as sustained lower back stretching exercises can go a long way in mobilizing the spine and providing relief.
Regular and sustained stretching exercise routine can go a long way in enhancing physical fitness and reducing muscular soreness and tension. The body becomes supple as the production of lubricating chemicals in the connective tissues is stimulated. The body starts to relax.
It is a myth that stretching exercises are designed only for women. Stretching improves flexibility that aids agility. This can lead to flexible muscular structure. Muscles and connective tissues tend to get shorter and less flexible over time. Regular flexibility exercises can aid in maintaining and regaining flexibility.
Stretching exercise routine
Typically stretching exercises are done for about 4 -5 days a week. Over time, you will notice that the body gains improved flexibility. What is of utmost importance is to ensure that you do not cause injuries with over zealous stretching routine. You can benefit more from stretching exercises if they are done after a warm-up routine of about 5 -10 minutes.
A stretching exercise regimen involves careful and focused movement that pushes your body to its outer limits of movement. It is essential to breathe normally during stretching exercises.
Back stretching exercises
The spinal column and its muscles are designed to move and limitations to this movement can only accentuate the back pain. Stretching of the soft tissues namely the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the back and around the spine can benefit the back muscles.
Hamstring stretching exercise
The hamstring stretching exercise plays a key role in alleviating lower back pain as patients with low back pain tend to have tight hamstrings and patients with tight hamstrings tend to have low back pain. Tight hamstring poses restriction on pelvic motion leading to stress across the low back.
This exercise helps to apply pressure to lengthen the hamstring muscle for 30 -45 seconds at a time one to two times each day. The pressure should be applied evenly on the muscles. Bouncing should be avoided. The hamstring muscle may be stretched in a number of different ways.
The common hamstring stretching technique is to bend forward at the waist with legs placed straight. Try to touch the toes and hold this position for as long as is comfortable.
Sit on a chair and place the legs straight out in the front on another chair. Then reach forward to try to touch the toes. This can be done for one leg at a time.
Lie on a floor and pull the leg up and straighten by holding onto a towel that is wrapped behind the foot. Here too one leg may be stretched at a time. This exercise may be less stressful.
Another less stressful exercise is to lie on the floor with the buttocks against a wall and place the foot up against the wall. Then try to push the knee straight. One leg at a time may be stretched.
One can increase and lengthen the hamstring stretches gradually thereby reducing stress to the low back. Hamstring stretches may be done along with other routine back exercises.
Other stretch exercises
Calf stretch: Stand placing your right leg in front of you and your left foot behind you. Place the toes of one foot up against a hard flat surface such as a door or wall. Keep the heel down on the floor. Lean your upper body forward to place a stretch on the back of the calf. Reverse the stretch with the right foot. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds.
Chest stretch: Stand straight with knees partially bent. Stretch your arms outward with palms facing forward. Hold this stretch for a few seconds.
Shoulder stretch: Place your hands above your head and interlock them. Stretch outward in either sitting or standing position.