Written by: Melanie Talastas-Soriano BA-Kin, CAT(C)
Stretching is an activity that most people do not practice as much as lifting weights and performing cardio workouts. It is probably the most underrated activity because in general, people do not see the benefits of stretching. Learning human anatomy stresses the movements and functions of each individual muscle in the body. The most important aspect of human anatomy is that the body is design to move, to bend left and right, to rotate and to bend forward and back. Every single joint from the neck to the ankle joint bend side to side, left and right and rotate.
Most people that come into our clinic expressed that they do not know how to stretch and for how long and when to do the stretches. With stretching parameters, it will depend on the nature of what you do throughout the day.
Understanding your daily activities at your workplace or home will determine which body part or stretches you need to do for balance so you can continue doing what you need and love to do. The goal of stretching is not to be flexible but to loosen muscle tension so your muscles and joints continue to function properly.
Benefits of stretching:
There are different types of stretching style that you can adapt to your regular regimen. It could be full body flow like in yoga, or full body and specific joint/muscle stretches. If you’re a beginner in stretching, 5-10 minutes to start will be a good enough first step to take. In addition, here is a list of what to expect when you stretch.
What to expect:
If you are needing a stretching program or want to learn more about how to start stretching, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Also, we invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel where you can find our Stretch Friday segments that you can follow along to. I hope this helps you understand the benefit of stretching and that you are starting your stretching journey today!
Disclaimer: Please be aware that information in this article is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding an injury or medical condition.
Written by: Taylor Post BA-Kin, CAT(C)
Your spinal column is divided into three sections (cervical, thoracic and lumbar). The longest of the three segments, the thoracic spine is positioned in the middle of your upper back. To function properly, the thoracic spine needs to bend, flex, extend and rotate. All while providing support for the neck above, the rib cage, and both upper and lower limb movements. Unfortunately, all of theses movements can diminish over time with misuse and sedentary postural demands (think desk jobs and texting/typing all day). This can lead to chronic tension and pain.
Whether you use them to supplement to your upper body workouts, or as a daily mobility sequence, here are some exercises to help get you started:
1. T- Spine Rotations
Begin by lying on your right side, with your arms straight in front of you and your knees/hips tucked at ninety degrees. If needed, use a pillow or foam roller under your top knee to keep your hips and lower back stable. Next rotate to the left along your thoracic spine until your upper back and top (left) arm are flat against the ground (or as close as possible). Hold this position for 2-3 seconds and repeat 10-15 times per side.
For a more dynamic version of this exercise, begin on all fours (quadruped position). Make sure that your knees are under your hips, and that your hands are lined up directly under your shoulders. This will ensure a neutral spine position. Next you will place your right hand on the back of you neck or upper back. Do not push or pull down on your head. Leading with your elbow, rotate to open up your chest to the right. Try to point your right elbow straight up to the ceiling. Move through the available range of motion (without breaking proper form), 8-10 times on each side.
2. Spiderman Complex
Perform a forward lunge, stepping forward and slightly outwards with your right leg. Lower your body until your front (right) leg is bent at ninety degrees, and your back leg is straight (knee is almost touching the floor). From this lunge position, lean forward and touch the floor with both hands. Next you will perform the overhead reach to mobilize the thoracic spine. Keeping your right hand near your right instep, rotate and open your torso to reach overhead with your left arm, keeping it as straight as possible. Try and keep your eyes on your left hand while performing the movement. Complete 8 repetitions per side.
3. Push up Plus to Downward Dog
The first part of this movement is the push up plus. Starting in a tall plank position, with arms straight, push your upper back towards the ceiling. In other words, retract and protract your shoulder blades. This will not be a very large movement. It can, however, go a long way to build strength in your serratus anterior, a muscle that plays a big part in postural control.
The second part is the bent knee downward dog. From the plank position, push down through your hands and shift your stomach towards your thighs. Lift your hips up high, as your legs straighten (until your knees are only slightly bent). Depending on your flexibility, try to push your heels down towards the floor. Pause for 2-3 seconds at the top of the movement, before returning to high plank. Repeat this sequence for 3 sets of 8-10 reps.
4. Extensions off of foam roller
Grab a foam roller and position yourself so that you’re lying with it under your upper back, perpendicular to your spine. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head to support you neck, but be careful not to pull your neck into an unnatural position.
Gently let your head fall towards the floor and try to extend your back over the foam roller. Roll slowly, up and down your spine, pausing at each vertebra to mobilize each segment. The idea is to relax your spine over the roller, to improve mobility in the vertebral joints of the thoracic spine. Make sure that you are keeping your abs tight, to avoid excessive strain on your low back. Perform as many times as needed.
Thoracic Spine mobility is essential to functional movement and proper posture. Those who lack mobility in the thoracic spine are at an increased risk for injuries to the shoulders and neck. Individuals with poor spinal mobility are also found to have an increased prevalence of low back pain. These four exercises can help unlock your thoracic spine and help you say goodbye to neck and back pain for good.
Thank you for reading and to learn more about exercises and rehab tips for injury prevention, please visit our website at www.insahyu.com
Team Insahyu: Certified Athletic Therapists and Certified Personal Trainers.