Exercises and Stretches for Spinal Health!
We know that the best thing you can do for your spinal health is to get adjusted regularly. You can do things such as stretches and exercises at home to improve your spinal health (they work best when alongside regular chiro care). The following are some of these ways to improve that spinal health.
We are going to break these down into 4 categories: pre-workout, exercise, post-workout, and daily.
Pre-workout stretches are meant to warm your body up for whatever activity you are doing.
This could be before an athletic event, sitting down to knit, or even going for a walk. Pretty much everything you do could benefit from a stretch beforehand. The best type of stretch for your pre-workout is a dynamic stretch. A dynamic stretch is an active movement that allows your joints and muscles to perform their full ranges of motion. A good example would be a swimmer doing arm circles before their swimming events. The following stretches are general full body dynamic stretches. There are many other stretches that could qualify for this group and the BEST thing to do is look up what stretches would be best for your specific activity (for example: hand stretches before knitting).
Walking body weight lunges: Take a step forward with one leg and bring your back knee to hover just above the ground and repeat with the other leg. Torso Twist: Put your knuckles together in front of you with your elbows wide, then rotate your right elbow as far back to the right as possible and repeat on the other side. Leg Swings: Stand up straight with a chair next to you for stabilization, balance on one foot and swing the other foot in front and behind you repetitively then switch legs. Arm Circles: Swing your arms in a circle motion and repeat in the other direction. Hip Circles: Balancing on one leg, lift the other leg and bend at your hip, swing that leg in circles and repeat with the other leg. Leg Pendulum: Swing your right foot as far to the left in front of your body as possible, then repeat behind your body, then repeat with the other leg. Squats: Squat your behind down so your thighs are parallel to the ground and stand back up and repeat. High Knees: Bring one knee as high as you can in front of you and repeat with the other leg. Cat-Cow: On your hands and knees, hump your back like a cat, then try to curve your belly to the ground like a cow and repeat.
These are generally good pre-workout stretches for everyday life!
Exercises for your Spinal Health are very important!
Making sure you are working on your full body movement allows you to keep your full range of motion. There are a few keys when working on these exercises. The first is proper time and repetition. Make sure to go at the pace your body is able to do. Overdoing it is detrimental to your health. The next is to make sure you are working through your FULL range of motion and then adding weight to those. This allows you to build strength at the ability of your motion. The following are some great exercises for your spinal health but there are plenty more that you can do!
Neck Retractions: Give yourself a double chin and hold it for seconds and repeat between 3-10 times. Resisted Neck Flexion/Extension/Lateral Bends: Make sure to be applying pressure to your head in the opposite direction that your head is moving, flex your head, extend it, and bend laterally to the sides and repeat each way 10 times. Cat-Cow: This is the same as the pre-workout, on all 4s, hump your back up and curve your back down and repeat 10 times. Wall Angels: Put your back against the wall and hold your arms up in the “touchdown” formation, straighten your arms all the way up the wall and then back down to the touchdown position and repeat 10 times. Wall Slides: With your back against the wall and your feet 2-3 feet away from the wall and your arms in touchdown position, keep your arms in place and squat down the wall to a squat position and go back up, repeat 10 times. Weighted Pull Throughs: In push up position, grab a weight and put it outside your right shoulder, grab it with your left hand and pull it outside your left shoulder and repeat 10 times each arm. Rows: Put your arms out in front of you (weighted or unweighted) and pull them towards your chest so your elbows are as far back as they can go, reset and repeat 10 times. Push Ups: On your hands and toes do 10 push ups. Hip Tucks and Holds: Rotate your hips forward and hold the position for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times. Glute Bridges: On your back, put your feet flat on the ground and lift your hips up to a flat plank, hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. Bentover Rows: Bend over so your chest is parallel with the ground, hang your arms straight down (weighted or unweighted) and pull your arms up so your elbows are as far behind your back as possible, repeat 10 times. Bird Dogs: On your hands and knees, lift your right arm straight out and your left leg straight out, switch to your left arm and right leg, repeat 10 times. Arm Holds: Hold your arms out straight in front of you (weighted or unweighted) and hole for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times. Lateral Leg Lifts: Either Standing or laying on your side, move your leg away from the other leg laterally, repeat this 10 times. Supermans: Laying on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you, lift your legs and arms off the ground, repeat 10 times. Lower trunk rotation: Lay on your back with your feet up in the air with your knees bent, roll your legs from side to side 10 times each. Hip hinges: Standing straight up, bend over at your hips as far as you can without bending your back, repeat 10 times (weighted or unweighted). Toe tip toes: Standing on your tip toes, walk across a room, repeat 10 times. Feet crossers: Balancing on one foot, cross the foot in front then behind your leg, repeat 10 times each leg. Weighted lunges: While holding weight, take a step forward with one leg and bring your back knee to hover just above the ground and repeat with the other leg.
Doing these exercises will greatly strengthen your spinal support!
Post-workout stretches are extremely important for recovery!
These allow your body to relax and restore itself after a workout, long walk, or even something like knitting! All types of exercise and intense movements benefit from stretching afterwards. Instead of doing dynamic stretches like the pre-workout, post-workout stretches are more beneficial if they are static. Static stretches are movements of a muscle to the extent of its motion without pain. You would then hold this position for 20 to 45 seconds. Doing this 3 times is the most effective way to increase flexibility and prevent injury. These are what children learn in gym class at school. Typically when most people think of stretching, this is what they think of. Doing this after your workout/activity allows the body to recover much quicker. The following stretches are general full body static stretches. There are many other types of static stretches and the best way to do your post-workout stretch is to look up specific stretches to your workout/activity.
Posterior shoulder stretch: Bring your right arm across your chest and hold it with your left arm, hold for 20 to 45 seconds and repeat with the other arm. Raised Hamstring stretch: While standing, raise one leg on top of a chair and squat down slightly then hold for 20 to 45 seconds and repeat with your other leg. Knee to Butt stretch: While standing, bring your heel to your butt and grab it with your hands and hold 20 to 45 seconds then repeat with the other leg. Behind head tricep stretch: Put your arm above your head and reach as far down your back as you can, then use the other arm to hold it and push it slightly further, hold for 20 to 45 seconds then repeat with the other arm. Child’s pose: On all 4s on the ground, bend backwards so you are in child’s pose, make sure to keep your arms stretched out, hold for 20 to 45 seconds. Knee to chest: On your back, bring your knees to your chest and hold them with your hands for 20 to 45 seconds (you can do this individually with each leg and switch it). Side lunge stretch: Standing, take a step to the side with one leg, squat down slightly and hold the position for 20-45 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Cobra stretch: Laying on you belly, put your hands on the ground and push your upper body off the ground, hold the position for 20-45 second. Hip Roll stretch: Laying on your back, bring your knees up to a 90 degree angle, keep your shoulders on the ground and roll your hips so your knees are on the ground on one side, then roll them over to the other side, hold each side for 20-45 seconds each. Figure 4 stretch: Laying on your back, put one foot just above your other legs knee, grab the straight leg and pull it to your chest, hold for 20-45 seconds and repeat with the other leg. Touch your toes: Standing, bend over and touch your toes, hold for 20-45 seconds.
These stretches are perfect to stretch your full body after any activity!
Daily stretches are possibly the most important for your spinal health.
The following stretches are key to keeping your muscles loose while aiding in keeping your spine in the proper position. Your spinal curvatures can actually go back to the proper alignment through these daily stretches (although it works best and quickest with chiropractic care AND the stretches). The best practice of these is to do them first thing in the morning, the last thing before bed, and once more throughout the day. I personally enjoy doing these stretches when I am in the car stopped at a red light. Making these stretches a daily habit can greatly improve your spinal health!
Neck Flexion: Bend your head forward and pull it down slightly past normal range of motion and hold for 10 seconds. Neck Extension: Bend your head backwards and pull it back slightly past normal range of motion and hold for 10 seconds. Neck Lateral Bend: Bend your head towards one of your shoulders and pull it back slightly past normal range of motion and hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Neck Angle Stretches: Bend your head to the front and to the side and pull it slightly further and hold for 10 seconds, repeat to the other front and side, to the back and side, and to the other back and side. Cat-Cow: This is the same as the pre-workout and exercise, on all 4s, hump your back up and curve your back down and repeat 10 times. Wall Angels: Put your back against the wall and hold your arms up in the “touchdown” formation, straighten your arms all the way up the wall and then back down to the touchdown position and repeat 10 times. Wall Slides: With your back against the wall and your feet 2-3 feet away from the wall and your arms in touchdown position, keep your arms in place and squat down the wall to a squat position and go back up, repeat 10 times. Dead Bug: On your back with your hands straight into the air and your legs at a 90 degree angle, move your right arm straight above your head and your left leg straight out then bring them back up and switch to the left arm and right leg and repeat each 10 times. Crunches: Laying on your back with your feet flat on the ground, crunch your shoulder blades off the ground and then go back to the ground and repeat 20 times. Supermans: Laying on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you, lift your legs and arms off the ground, repeat 10 times. Side Bridge: With your hand on the ground, lift your body up so just your hand and a foot is on the ground with your side up in the air and hold for 30 seconds. Front bridge: Get into push up position with your hands and feet on the ground and hold this position for 30 seconds.
If you do these stretches DAILY, then you will have much better spinal health.
A last trick to work on your spinal health is for your posture. If you do this constantly throughout the day, your posture will significantly improve. Shoulders back, sternum (chest) up. Doing these 2 things makes it very difficult to have bad posture and you can do it anytime! At the grocery store? CHECK. At a baseball game? CHECK. Eating dinner? CHECK. Shoulders back and sternum up is a great way to work on your posture!
There are many other things to do to have your best spinal and body health. This includes getting 7-9 hours of sleep, healthy nutrition, having good mind balance, having good body balance, proper posture, and working on your range of motion of all your body parts. It takes a combination of all of these things for proper spinal and body health.