Winter is coming to an end, and as the sun begins to shine, most of us are getting off our couches and starting to get fit and well for the coming summer. Many people do aerobic activities to improve their cardiovascular system and burn fat, while others lift weights to build strength, build muscle or maintain muscle mass. Most, unfortunately, fail to address one of the most important parts of any fitness program, being flexibility training.
One of the most common clinical presentations I see in clinic is stiffness around the low back region, especially in the morning or after a long day at work. What surprises me is that a lot of people tend to just ignore their symptoms, rather than doing something about it.
The benefits of a good flexibility program include performance improvement in sports, decreased chance of injuries, improved posture, as well as a good control of stress levels and relaxation. For those of us who are not elite sportspeople, the positives also apply to us. Whether we are feeling a bit stiff in the morning or having trouble getting out of bed, or our back is causing us to labour through the day, doing some simple flexibility exercises will greatly help our overall wellbeing. Like any sort of training regime, flexibility will increase with regular training. And the best part? It’s simple and easy to get started.
Here are two simple, but very effective exercises to help decrease stiffness along the spinal region and increase your general flexibility. These exercises are a great way to start your flexibility exercises, and are tailored to anyone, whether you are an elite sports star, a weekend warrior or just your typical 9-5 weekday desk worker.
- CAT and CAMEL exercises
- Gently move your back into alternating flexion and extension
- Be sure not to hold your breath
- Only work within your pain free limits of movement.
- Repeat 10 x’s
- Lumber roll
- Lay on your back on a hard surface, with your legs and feet together and knees bent
- Arms should be straight out on your sides
- Start the exercise by taking your legs and hips over to one side. Keep your upper body on the floor. Your hips and feet will lift off the floor as you take your legs over. Only go as far as you can without lifting your upper body off the floor. Return them back to the centre.
- Repeat on the other side
- Repeat 5-10 times
If you are injured, stiff, or sore, don’t put up with it. Visit one of our osteopaths for more information on the right treatment for you. Call us on (03) 9889 5885 to get yourself back to feeling great!