When your lower back is sore from running or sitting all day, here's a relaxing stretch to target that area and open the hips.
- Sit on the floor with your legs in front of you.
- Bend your knees so they are slightly wider than your shoulders. Plant your feet slightly wider than your knees, with your toes pointing out to the sides.
- Lower your torso in between your knees and place your hands on the floor. If you're more flexible, place your forearms on the floor. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and try not to let your feet slip away from your body.
- Stay here for 30 seconds and then sit up to release.
Lower back pain can be quite painful and debilitating to a daily routine. If you have ever suffered from painful squeezing, pinching, or tightness of the lower back, these three stretches act as both a relief and a preventive measure for this not-so-friendly feeling.
The cat and cow stretch is a great way to warm up your spine, loosening tension in your lower back. If you aren't familiar with this stretch, it is fairly easy to do and feels great. Here's how:
- Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips and your wrists are under your shoulders. Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged.
- As you inhale, arch your back and lift your head and tailbone. This part of the stretch is called cow.
- With an exhale, round your spine up to the ceiling, pulling your abs toward your spine, and simultaneously tuck your tailbone and tuck your chin toward your chest. This part is known as cat.
- Continue flowing back and forth from cat to cow, breathing deeply so as not to rush each movement.
Yoga has long revered the process of going upside down for your body's health, and inversion therapy can do wonders for a tense and tight back. Once you strap yourself into this crazy-looking contraption and flip over, your body is able to reap the benefits of inversions — without having to stand on your head!
Take away tension: Flipping upside down in an inversion table takes pressure off the nerve roots in your back and increases the space between your vertebrae. Anyone who is constantly on their feet at work or loves to run can benefit from alleviating compression in their spine. As you flip more often, tension will dissipate and sore backs will strengthen.
Pump it up: Your body works against gravity to disperse blood everywhere it needs to go, especially when you're sitting at a desk most of the day. Hanging out in an inversion table helps your body out with this process. And if you're trying to detox, inverting is a big help. Just like doing a headstand or handstand in yoga, going upside down stimulates your lymphatic system, which helps flush out waste and toxins.
Stand tall: As we grow older, the vertebrae and spinal discs in our backs compress with age. This is one of the reasons people "shrink" with time. But by using an inversion table regularly, you're giving your spine the chance to lengthen and elongate. Not only does this help with tension pain, but it also helps you keep your height!
Have you ever tried out an inversion table?
Like any brand-new fitness plan, consult your physician before investing in a table. Also consider having a friend nearby for supervision the first time you try one out for yourself!
A little overzealous at the gym yesterday? If you woke up with a tight or sore lower back, follow this short stretching sequence for instant relief.
Cat and Cow to Wide Child's Pose
Stand on your hands and knees. Do a few rounds of Cat and Cow, slowly rounding the back and tucking your chin and then arching the back and looking up. Come back to a neutral spine position, widen your knees slightly, and press back into Wide Child's Pose. Stay for a few breaths and then begin circling the hips in a clockwise direction for a few breaths, then switch directions. Repeat three more times, and end with five more breaths of Wide Child's Pose.
Supported Seated Straddle to Side Stretch
Continue reading to learn the rest of the stretching sequence.
Summer concerts are an unparalleled experience. Between the music, the crowd, and the weather, it's a dreamy recipe for perfection. But while heading to check out your favorite bands can prove to be an awesome time, there are definitely some precautions to take beforehand to ensure that you have the most rocking time possible. No need to panic — here are some ways to plan ahead and things to consider when you're at the show!
- Keep your feet safe: You may be compelled to rock some serious heels or open-toe shoes, but it's best to put your feet first. You're going to be on your feet all night long, so give your dogs a break! If you can't give up the fashion factor, try to rock a lower-heeled boot or close-toed shoe with a little support. Not only will it take out the risk of someone stomping down on your toes, but your feet will also feel much better in the morning.
- Dance, dance, dance: If you're with a rambunctious crew, you're sure to be making some moves. Making a conscious decision to keep dancing throughout the night will keep your spirits soaring and your cardio blasting. Plus, isn't this the best part of the concert experience?
- Lay off the booze: Getting caught up in your rockstar moment can lead to constant grabbing for another beer or sugary cocktail. Not only are these drinks loaded with empty calories, but remind yourself that you've also got places to be tomorrow! Don't let friends just hand you drink after drink, and know when to cut yourself off.
Keep reading for two more healthy concert tips to keep you grooving!
A new study has found that yoga isn't just good for the mind — for chronic back pain sufferers, yoga and stretching can alleviate pain and reduce dependency on pain medication.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, split 228 back pain sufferers into three treatment groups: yoga class, stretching class, or at-home self-care with a back pain book. The yoga group's therapy consisted of weekly 75-minute beginner viniyoga (a style of yoga that focuses on therapeutic and individualized practice) class as well as videos to follow daily. The stretching group was also given videos for daily practice as well as weekly 75-minute stretching classes that focused on stretching major muscle groups and strength training. The self-care group used the book The Back Pain Helpbook.
Find out how the groups fared after the break.
Sitting at a desk, lifting heavy weights improperly, or neglecting to stretch the shoulders can take a huge toll on posture. Even if you think you're sitting up straight, you may still be slouching your shoulders and upper back. Crunch trainer Tim Rich shows us some key stretches and exercises that you can do to strengthen your back and open up your shoulders.
It may not be the safest idea for an expectant momma to train for an ultra-marathon, race through the lake waterskiing, or hit the trails mountain biking, but she can and should still do moderate exercise. During my pregnancy, prenatal yoga was my saving grace. It strengthened my muscles, increased flexibility and balance (which I lost as my belly grew), and helped me mentally and physically prepare for labor. I've already led you through a sequence to open tight hips and hamstrings, and here's another one that will stretch your hips and back, which should alleviate some of the lower back or pelvic pain many pregos complain of.
One of my favorites parts of yoga class is when it's time to twist. Not only do twists make your back feel incredibly good and relaxed, they also help straighten the spine, meaning better posture and improved breathing. But the benefits don't end there — spinal twist poses also help you digest a big dinner and aid in, ahem, moving things along. Here are five poses that'll have you twisting and shouting for joy.