- Exercise & Fitness
Tibetan Back Stretching Exercises for Flexibility and Better Back Health
The Many Benefits of Having a Strong Back
The physical conditioning of the back muscles determine posture, better respiration, and movement. These muscles support the entire skeletal system, but that's not all. There are blood streams and nerves which can be pinched by bones bunched together over sensitive spots. Having strong back muscles makes walking and overall movement much more pleasurable. Head held up high, an easy, relaxed gait gives an appearance and feeling of confidence. Someone with good posture is much more dignified, giving the appearance that life can be managed and enjoyed, not simply endured.
As time goes by, as we age, it is normal to hunch down a little bit. The muscles retract and heads hunch downwards. Many people in middle age admit to being shorter than in their college years. With a little effort. the back exercises shown below can help you elongate these muscles again, like filling a balloon with air. Try them. They are easy to do and take about fifteen minutes a day, which isn't much time.
Vertibrae - links in a chain
Back Pain is Very Common
Proactively fight back pain by strengthening muscles
Those of us who feel great pressure in the lower part of the back know that back pain definitely depleats energy. Back pain can mean lost concentration and stooped or strained posture to compensate for the pain. Needless to say, walking, getting out of a chair, moving, lifting, and just plain old living become more difficult. There are psychological effects as well "not as young as I used to be" and lowered self esteem. But exercise can make a (huge) difference.
Salespeople or hairdressers who are constantly on their feet may feel that the lower back area suffers. Those with sedentary jobs, sitting for hours in a stiff position behind the computer may even be worse off for wear. Sitting in one place for most of the day results in back muscles being neglected, muscles weakened from inactivity. Job stress lends itself to muscle tension, stiffness and pain.
Be Your Own Best Friend
Are You Slumping?
It's not a bad idea to catch a glance of body posture while standing in a reflection. Do you slouch, slump or stand to the side to compensate for some ache and pain? Do you walk funny? Or are your shoulders proudly thrown back, head held high and confident? Be objective!
Here is a great "secret" exercise which from the very first day, showed its potential to condition those weaker muscles which would support the problem between the disks.
Generally speaking, muscles support the entire skeletal structure. Stomach exercises act to strengthen the back. These are sit ups, crunches, and so on. These Tibetan Exercises, however, are designed specifically for the entire back, from the neck vertebrae all the way to the tailbone area, legs and arms.
A Personal Note
My chiropractor once explained that I had spondy lolisthesis, a genetic disorder. Basically, there is a cushion missing (or smaller than it needs to be) between two of my vertebrae.
Proof is in the Pudding
My dear friend, who is 70 but has the body of a 40 year old (even a 25 year old would die for her body!), has been doing these exercises since she was fifty years old. At that time, although by nature an active and enthusiastic person, she began feeling the heaviness in her legs, began feeling tired and disoriented, and knew that middle age was catching up with her. Back pain, crunchy neck, and other symptoms prevented her from moving around like she used to.
She has been doing them for twenty years, and in the ten years I have known her, she hasn't aged a bit. She is blonde, tall, tanned, and has great legs. She says that she feels no pain whatsoever. Her son, a medical doctor, saw the change in her and began doing them himself on a regular basis.
The Daily Five
The exercises are designed to be done every day. Beginners are advised to start with three to five repetitions of each exercise and slowly increase at a rate of three more each additional week. Once you get used to doing them they can be completed in less than 20 minutes.
When I do them, I immediately feel my bones re-adjusting - CRUNCH! – and all for the better!. In fact, I am almost tempted to do them TWICE a day just because of the immediate relief they bring. In my experience the pain builds – then I exercise, and it leaves me, then, if I stop doing them, the pain slowly starts building up again.
What is Needed to Begin:
All you need is floor space, a beach towel or an exercise mat, and approximately 15 minutes. Be sure to breathe in when it's easy, and breathe out when it's more challenging. I also give myself a rest of five to six seconds between each one because these are muscles I am not accustomed to using.
Your Doctor's Approval
Before starting any exercise program, most definitely visit your doctor and/or physical therapist. No exercise program should be started without their O.K. When I showed it to my doctor, he vigorously approved.
I prefer to do them first (or second) thing in the morning, so I feel good ASAP. Now, we will describe how to do the exercises. Remember, breathe and pause a little between each one.
Exercise #1 - Spindle
Stretching your body upwards, raise your arms outwards to shoulder level and turn in one direction five complete circles. At the end of the five turns, bring your hands together as if you were to clap them, and regain your orientation. More than five turns you could easily feel dizzy so five is enough. Now repeat in the opposite, say, counterclockwise, direction, until you have spun five times and then, bringing your hands together, stand still for a moment and turn again, now in the clockwise direction.
This exercises gives flexibility in the neck and shoulders. Here, the old adage of "fake it till you make it" or "act as if (you were)" applies. Stand tall and erect, as if you had no back pain and excellent posture, With a little practice, you soon will be that kind of person! So do them with pride as if it were a dress rehearsal!
Exercise #2 - Crunch
From a relaxed lying down position, slowly raise the head and legs simultaneously, keeping the palms down near the hips. Breathe outwards as your legs rise up as high as you can. Count to five then slowly lower them downwards, inhaling as you go down (legs and head). Rest for a moment, then repeat.
This exercise is good for the stomach muscles, which support the lower back, and the back of the thighs.
I always imagine myself as "the human tongs" when I bring my head up to meet my legs. It seems to help me meet my goal better. Visualization is a key factor in the realization of goals.
Exercise #3 - Back Tilt
Fall Back, but Slowly
Be sure that your toes are flexed and that your rib cage is drawn up. Now, as you inhale, slowly, ever so slowly, fall back on your heels while exhaling, holding your head (as loosely as possible) in a surrender fallback position. Don't dismay if you can't fall too far back, yet. With time your muscles will allow you to fall further. Just do the best you can and keep at it.
Exercise #4 - the Box
Invert Yourself Baby!
Sitting on your mat or beach towel, prepare to invert yourself. How? Push hard on the floor with your palms, lift your buttocks, and exhale, allowing your head to relax and naturally drop downwards.
You will feel the muscles in your arms, a little, but we have been neglecting our arm muscles lately, right? I know that I have . .
Again, exhale while you lift the body. It is actually not that hard to do! This one is among my favorites of the "Five".
Exercise #5 - Triangle Fall
Make Like a Triangle, Then Fall
Spread your legs to shoulder width, then, using your toes to keep balance, create a triangle with your body. Buttocks up, head down, arms also spread for safer positioning. Now, exhale and let your whole body go limp, head back. It's a great stretch, and you may even hear your back crack.
Now that the back has been stretched and muscles are beginning to be strengthened, add two glasses of water to help flush your system out. This muscular shake-up helps to release toxins from your body. Help them find the door with extra fluids.
Take a walk around the park or take your bike to the grocery store to help wake up the lymph nodes. This will allow your body to begin a light detoxification program. Exercise, water and aerobic exercise when the heart rate steadily pumps faster for 20-30 minutes are a great - and necessary way to get your system in optimal health, day by day.
When in doubt, a multivitamin tablet and supplementary B12 and or Iron tablet are wise additions to the diet, taken after breakfast to avoid upsetting the stomach.