We all know mobility is king and also that stretching adds to ones mobility but alas knowing it isn’t the same as doing something about it. As we age (And let me tell you, after hitting fifty this has become personal to me.) stretching moves from optional to mandatory. Yes, things tighten up as we hit what I call the common condition of Old Age, “Furniture Disease” when your chest starts to fall into your drawers. As we age, It becomes imperative to stretch the low back, core musculature and the pelvic girdle.
The first stretch I like is for the low back, buttock, piriformis and to a lesser degree the I. T. band. You lie on your back and bring your knees up. Cross the midline of your body with both legs (Move both feet to the left or right) then cross your legs with the outside leg (that is, in the direction you chose to move the legs) over the inner one. Using the top leg, you pull the lower leg toward the outside. If you don’t move both legs across the mid line of your body you won’t have sufficient stretch. The amount of stretch is caused by the amount of laterality of the lower leg at the starting position.
This is the proper start position with the lower leg moved left across the mid-line of the body.
This would be WRONG, by not crossing the mid-line of the body.
This is the finish position.
With all your stretches do NOT bounce in a ballistic fashion trying to get a deeper stretch. Go into the position holding it for twenty seconds then try to go a little deeper holding it another twenty seconds. This will allow you to progressively get more and more depth from the stretch.
The next stretch may be familiar to you Yoga people…. Namaste ! This one stretches the anterior of the core and some people with low back problems may find this one somewhat painful. If it seems to you like it may exacerbate your condition I am telling you now…. DON’T do it. If it’s a mile irritation you are probably OK.
Lay face down and then extend up on your hands stretching your low back out. You want to keep your head high not hanging down which would stretch the posterior neck musculature not a problem most people have… so don’t’ do it, M’Kay.
Proper positioning has the head up high.
You may want to ramp this stretch down when you first start doing it by going up onto your elbows instead of the outstretched arms. This is perfectly fine and will still provide more than a little stretch so if that is more comfortable go for it.
The next stretch is for the low back and hamstring. This is NOT primarily a hamstring stretch so don’t expect a lot of that with this one.
Lay on your back and bring your knees to your chest. Grip UNDER the knees (Gripping over them puts a lot of stress on the knee ligaments… this is a no no.)
Proper knee grip is under the knee.
Then actively pull your knees up to your chest. This gets the low back, buttock and to some extent the hamstrings.
Proper finish position knees to chest.
Solid variations of this stretch are 1) Gripping one leg at a time with the other leg laying flat on the table and performing the same knee to chest motion. For more priformus stretch, you can bring the knee across to the opposite side of the chest. 2) To emphasize the Hamstring involvement, bring up one knee to the chest the other flat on the table and then straighten out the upper (Drawn to chest) knee.
The last stretch I am going to talk about is for the deep pelvic muscles and the hip flexors.
You can stand next to your bed, or use a chair for this one. You place your knee on the chair or bed while standing on the opposite leg.
Proper start position.
The next part of the stretch involves stepping forward with the weight bearing leg and bending the knee as in a lunge. You want to keep your back straight and your head held up high. Do this with attitude, you rule! All others will bow to your amazing stretching capabilities.
Proper finish position.
There are lots of stretches for every body part. This is by no means an all encompassing article. These are just some of my favorites that will translate well into anyone’s low back, core, and pelvis stretching regimen. Or perhaps start one for you. Now get going and stretch !