Posture Month

Posture Month

We often feel tight and stiff from doing things like playing sports, going to the gym and even sitting! Each of these activities puts strain and tension on different muscle groups throughout the body. Stretching is a great way to alleviate tension and tightness stored throughout the body as well as improving flexibility and range of motion. 

Stretching can also be useful when dealing with injury or chronic pain. It plays a key role during the rehabilitation process, helping the muscle fibres realign and recover. Chronic pain in the low back has often been linked to prolonged periods of sitting and sedentary work. When we sit, we have more pressure in our joints (especially the low back) than when we stand, so it is important to take regular posture breaks and stretch out these muscles that may lead to any extra compression of these joints such as the hip flexors. 

Anyone experiencing low back pain that is severe or does not go away with gentle stretches and exercise should consult your Chiropractor or local health care professional. If any of the following exercises make the pain worse, it is vital to stop them immediately and consult your Chiropractor.

Thoracic:

1. Side bend

How:

  1. Reach arms overhead
  2. Grab the wrist of one arm with the other hand
  3. Gently bend away from the straight arm
  4. Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat 3 times on both sides

Feel: Stretch down the side of the body

Modifications: To feel more engagement, you can add a slight twist forward

Chiropractic Porirua Side Bend Stretch

2. Flexion/Reach

How:

  1. Arms pushed out in front of you, focus on bringing shoulders out and around
  2. Tuck head down
  3. Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat 3 times

Feel: Stretch between your shoulder blades and mid back

Modifications: If this is too intense, you can give yourself a hug focus on bringing your elbows to the floor, tuck your chin down and hold

Chiropractic Porirua Flexion Stretch

3. Extension

How:

  1. Both hands on hips
  2. Bring your shoulder blades back and down and squeeze elbows together
  3. Lift chest up (imagine a piece of string pulling you up)
  4. Hold for 10-20 seconds and repeat 3 times

Feel: Stretch opening up the chest and upper/mid back

Modifications: If you are more flexible, you can interlock your fingers, palms face out instead of hands on the hips.

Chiropractic Porirua Extension Stretch

Lumbar:

1. Cat/Cow

How:

  1. Start on all fours (ensure wrists and elbows are stacked as well as knees and hips)
  2. Breathe out, pushing the floor away, rounding your back and tucking your head to your chest.
  3. Breathe in, sink your belly to the floor arching your back and lifting your head up to the ceiling
  4. Slowly move between the two movements 
  5. Repeat 5-10 times

Feel: Stretch through the mid-back and decompression through the lumbar spine.

Modifications: If suffering from acute low back pain, in step 3, instead of sinking your belly to the floor, come to a neutral position.

Tips: really focus on pushing the floor away and driving the weight of your upper body through your palms for a maximal amount of stretch through the mid back.

At the end of this stretch, it’s quite pleasant to sit in childs pose.

Chiropractic Porirua Cat Cow Stretch

2. Psoas

How:

  1. Stand in a wide lunge (you may use a wall for support if you have balance issues)
  2. Keeping your torso upright, bend the front leg while shifting your weight forward
  3. “Zip and Tuck” your pelvis up, engaging your lower abdominal muscles (this will feel quite intense)
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3 x on each side

Feel: Stretch through your hip flexor muscles

Modifications: If tucking your pelvis is too intense to hold for 20-30 seconds, you can hold for 5-10 seconds and “relax” and then engage the tuck after 5 seconds.

Chiropractic Porirua Psoas Stretch

3. Knee to chest

How:

  1. Lie on your back
  2. Bring one knee into your chest, using your arms to pull it into your chest
  3. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3 x on each side

Feel: a stretch through your gluteal muscles on the bent leg side and a hip flexor stretch on the straight leg side

Modifications: To make get a more intense stretch through your hip flexors, you can perform this on the bed and let the leg hang off the edge and extend back slightly

Chiropractic Porirua Knee To Chest Stretch

Low Limb

1. Posterior Leg

How: 

  1. Lie on your back
  2. Using a band/belt/towel, put it around the heel of one leg
  3. Lift that leg up until you feel resistance or tightness through the back of the upper leg (hamstring)
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
  5. To target your calf, move the band/belt/towel to the ball of your foot and point your toes towards your nose
  6. Hold for 20-30 seconds
  7. Repeat on both sides and repeat 2-3 times

Feel: Stretch through the posterior leg in the hamstring and calf

Modifications: If you don’t have the ability to lie down, you can perform this standing without any tools. Standing in a narrow stance, keeping the knees straight, push your hips back and hinge forward.

To target your calf, stand against a wall pointing your toes upward.

Chiropractic Porirua Knee To Chest

2. Seated Pigeon

How:

  1. Sit up straight, place an ankle on to the opposite knee
  2. Keep your chest up and back straight (don’t slouch).
  3. Lean forward to where you feel a good stretch through the bent knee side
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3 x on each side

Feel: The gluteal and hip muscles stretch through the bent leg side

Modifications: If hips are really tight, you won't want to add the forward lean. You can start to apply downward pressure on the bent leg for an extra stretch if needed

Chiropractic Porirua Seated Pigeon Stretch

3. Butterfly Stretch

How:

  1. Sitting on the floor or a flat surface with soles of your feet pressing into each other
  2. Keep back neutral (don’t slouch)
  3. Hold your feet with your hands and rest your elbows on your knees
  4. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times

Feel: The inner thigh/groin muscles (adductors)

Modifications: To deepen this stretch you can gently apply downward pressure at the knees and shift your torso forward whilst maintaining a neutral spine

Chiropractic Porirua Butterfly Stretch

References:

Bandy, W., Irion, J., & Briggler, M. (1997). The Effect of Time and Frequency of Static Stretching on Flexibility of the Hamstring Muscles. Physical Therapy, 77(10), 1090-1096. doi: 10.1093/ptj/77.10.1090

Hotta, K., Behnke, B., Arjmandi, B., Ghosh, P., Chen, B., & Brooks, R. et al. (2018). Daily muscle stretching enhances blood flow, endothelial function, capillarity, vascular volume and connectivity in aged skeletal muscle. The Journal Of Physiology, 596(10), 1903-1917. doi: 10.1113/jp275459

Page, P. (2012). Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. International journal of sports physical therapy, 7(1), 109.

Rifkin, B. (2011). Does Stretching Increase Blood Circulation?. Retrieved 3 March 2020, from https://www.sportsrec.com/338122-does-stretching-increase-blood-circulation.html

Sitting Ergonomics And The Impact on Low Back Pain. (2020, November 29). Physiopedia, . Retrieved 19:24, February 23, 2021 from https://www.physio-pedia.com/index.php?title=Sitting_Ergonomics_And_The_Impact_on_Low_Back_Pain&oldid=260791.