4 Stretches You Can’t Live Without
Do you feel stiff and sore in the mornings? Do you experience pain in your low back or down your leg when you go from sitting to standing? If you are currently experiencing these symptoms it is likely that you have postural distortion patterns of your spine causing muscular tightness throughout your body.
Improper posture leads to muscular compensation patterns. When the spine is improperly aligned, the muscles stiffen to support the body upright. This is a natural mechanism of the body to keep you grounded. However, chronic muscular stiffness leads to inefficient utilization of the muscles and lack of flexibility. Often resulting in pain.
To regain the flexibility you have lost over the years, start with these 4 stretches. These stretches will lengthen targeted muscle groups that are pertinent for proper postural alignment. Each exercise should be done twice per day, once in the morning and again in the evening. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds per side. While stretching, the most important consideration is your posture, not how far you are able to reach or bend. Focus on keeping your spine straight at all times, and when you bend forward, bend at the hip without rounding your spine. Being Form Focused while stretching and exercising is imperative for postural correction.
1) Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch may be performed in the kneeling or standing position, choose whatever position feels more comfortable for your body. Be sure to keep your spine straight and avoid falling forward with your upper back. The knee that is in front should be in proper alignment with the ankle, if the knee moves forward beyond the ankle it could cause strain to your knee.
2) Hamstring Stretch
Please note, the point of this stretch is not to touch your toes. The purpose is to elongate the hamstring muscles that have become shortened. When bending forward, bend at your waist keeping your spine straight.
3) Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis stretch will be done from the seated position. This stretch can be difficult for many people, so remember to keep proper form. When bending forward, again bend from the waist keeping your spine straight.
4) Pectoral Stretch
Many people present with rounded forward shoulders. This exercise will stretch the tight muscles causing your shoulders to round forward. Stand in a doorway, placing your arms alongside the doorframe. Shift your weight forward feeling a stretch of the pectoral muscles. If you have a shoulder injury start this stretch slowly and stretch to your level of comfort, avoiding aggravation of the injury.
Dr. Krista Burns DC, DRHA, CPEP, CPS
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor of Health Administration
Certified Postural Specialist
Co-Founder American Posture Institute