Tips for back-problems, aches and pains

Many people sit for hours on end; either behind a desk, in front of a television or laptop, or slouch on a couch with their phones, causing a collapsed and hyper-arched lower back.  When you sit, your back collapses, the pelvis-area tucks under and your hamstring start to shorten.  Sitting for too long, without doing any form of exercise, can also cause the hip-flexors and pelvis to shorten; causing them to lose their range of movement.  Thus, the pelvis tilts forward, the buttocks stick out at the back and the lower back is curved too much.  Someone with a hollow back should, from an early age, sit in Lotus-position, to straighten and strengthen the back. 

If it is difficult, then try the half-Lotus position and focus on strengthening and stretching the lower back muscles, as well as glutes.  The ideal is to lengthen your hamstrings and shorten your hip-flexors.  When your hamstrings and hips are shortened, they lose their range of movement.  Instead of using the muscles of the legs and hips to lift the spine into an upright position, the back muscles are used instead. 

Another mistake people often make, is to lift heavy things with straight legs, instead of bending or softening the knees.  Often in the gym, you see people doing weight-lifting with straight legs.  Instead of using their arms and legs to pick up the heavy weights, they “throw’ the weights up because their knees are not bent.  The worst thing for the lower back, is jerking-movements.  When you are in a car accident, you often get treatment for whiplash.  When you jerk whilst doing exercises like sit-ups, picking up weights, back exercises and others, that pulsing-movement is like whiplash for the lower back.  The lumber spine is mostly bone and needs to be protected. 

Running is a popular exercise / sport, but not only is it bad for the knees and hips, but also the back – regardless of the type of trainers you wear.  Luckily today there are specific trainers geared for certain sports.  The best tip is to not only focus on one sport / exercise, but to combine it with Yoga and/or Pilates.  In both these exercise-modalities, you are taught how to strengthen and lengthen the muscles, as well as stretching.  Stretching is something the body wants to do instinctively and, when you don’t stretch regularly (especially after a work-out), your muscles will shorten, stay stiff and it will lead to injuries.

Swimming and walking are 2 of the best ways to not only stay fit, but also mobile.  When we sit at the office all day, then come home and sit in front of the television, our bodies become rigid, sore and extremely tight.  We were made to move; just think or look at babies.  They instinctively want to move and can’t wait to start walking! Our whole body, organs, circulatory system and lymphatic system, depends on us moving.  Doing housework or gardenwork is fine, but again you need to stretch your body after bending forward, for example, or climbing up and down a ladder.  There is nothing nicer than a lovely stretch after a day at work, after a gym session or after a walk or jog outside.

Stretching is also great for allowing more oxygen into the body.  When you stretch, you inhale and exhale slower and deeper.  By doing this, more oxygen flows into the body and more of the stale air (often stuck at the bottom of the lungs because we don’t use our whole lung capacity), are exhaled.  Another wonderful thing about stretching and breathing, is that it automatically calms us down and helps us to relax more.

So, dear readers, if you are not stretching yet, do make a point of stretching before you get out of bed and before you sleep.  Also remember that it is very important after any workout and always listen to your body!  When you need to pick up something that is heavy, bend your knees (or ask for help).  Sit up straight, walk talk and check that your shoulders are in their natural position.  Roll your shoulders forward, up and back; this will also help to straighten the spine.  Tuck in your tummy, but make sure your hips face forward and tuck in your bottom.

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