Ice, snow, holiday frenzy, long hours at work, all make for a perfect recipe for throwing out your back.
Perhaps you’ve had a hard day, you had to shovel the walk, dig your car out of the snow, slipped on the ice, mailed a few heavy packages, are carrying around some extra holiday weight, or had to take your in-laws around town. You’re tired, and it feels like your back is about to go out.
To keep your back in supple working order, you can simply do a few exercises that will help loosen you up and restore your posture. You should do these before running to your pain relievers or muscles relaxants. You don’t even need a personal trainer or gym membership to do them, and they will prevent a visit to the doctor. A few relaxed sets of these exercises can immediately make you feel better.
These golden exercises include knee bends, waist twists and hip rolls. Doing these three treasures is a great way to get the blood moving, release endorphins and help you detox, all of which keeps the back in shape and pain away.
Since these simple exercises deal with moving the major muscle groups including the core stabilizing muscles, you can do them anytime with varying degrees of difficulty–adjusting as you get more accustomed to doing them.
The exercises promote blood circulation and release muscle tightness and spasms. Done regularly, they will increase your health and fitness levels, helping to tone your body. You will feel warmer and they will even help aid digestion, as the exercises assist the moving action of the intestines to move your bowels to aid detoxing.
Detoxing is important when considering pain, as toxins in the blood and muscles creates inflammation and pain.
Exercise 1 — Knee Bends: Do some gentle, relaxed knee bends. If you have knee or back issues it is best to do them with the assistance of a chair, table or desk. Stand in a relaxed shoulder-width position and place your hands on the support. Tighten your stomach muscles and exhale while bending your knees and going down as far as you can without falling or straining your knees. Inhale while standing up. Do 10 of these, and then move onto the next exercise.
Exercise 2 — Waist Twists: With your hands relaxed at your sides and with feet a shoulder-width apart, simply start swinging your arms right then left, patting both hands on your lower back as they reach around. This will massage the kidneys. Be sure not to swing or pat too hard, just in a relaxed easy motion! Breathe naturally and relax. Simply do a count of 10, and then relax.
Exercise 3 — Hip Rolls: Stand back away from your support and stand with legs at shoulder-width apart. Tighten your abdominal muscles and put your hands on your hips. Imagine you have a hula hoop, or are doing the hula, and rotate your hips clockwise 5 times, then rotate them counter-clockwise 5 times. Be sure to relax and smile and breathe naturally with this exercise.
The complete series of these golden exercises takes about 2 minutes to complete. Initially, try to do the exercises 3 times a day. Take an exercise break, rather than a coffee or cigarette break, and you’ll be delighted on how good your low back will feel.
by Robert Chu, PhD, L.Ac.