After a long, hard sleep, morning stretches are the best way to reduce pressure on your back and help you ease into the new day. Many people sleep in a curled-up position, which can put a fair amount of compression on the spine. A good stretch can help loosen up muscles, add more flexibility to the spine and reduce any lingering pain or discomfort. Many of these simple morning stretches can be done without getting out of bed, with no equipment needed. A note before we begin – if you have moderate to severe back pain, make sure that you see your chiropractor before doing these stretches as some stretches may irritate an injured spine. If you experience any significant pain (beyond normal stretching pain) during or after any of these stretches then avoid those stretches.
Essential Morning Stretches for a Healthy Spine
Some of the best morning stretches to keep your spine
healthy include the following:
1/ Knees to chest.
Lie flat on your back, bending one knee and bringing it towards your chest. Change legs and repeat the stretch on the other side. You can hold onto your lower legs or your ankles, gently repeating the pulling motion towards your chest a few times on each side and holding for around 10 seconds as the knees are at your chest. This stretch targets the lower back. You can follow this motion with an opposite action, moving the legs away from you instead of towards you to stretch the mid-back.
2/ Back extension.
Lie on your back, with your forearms out in front of you, palms down. Keep elbows bent and underneath your shoulders. Keep the shoulders down. Press up using your arms until you feel a very slight extension, making sure to avoid any discomfort or pain. Lower back down and repeat a few times. Based on the cobra pose done in many styles of yoga, the back extension can help relieve disc problems and give the entire back a good stretch. The stretch is gentle, lengthening the spine and helping to straighten posture.
3/ Lumbar flexion.
Sit on the edge of your bed, feet on the floor. Bend over, reaching your hands out towards your feet and arching your back. Hold for about 10 seconds and then repeat a few times. This stretch helps to stretch the lower back. Be very careful with this stretch if you have a herniated disc or any similar problems with your back. The stretch can place too much pressure on the disc. If you feel any pain, stop the stretch and speak to your doctor.
4/ Neck rotation.
Sit on the edge of your bed, with feet placed on the floor. Gently turn your neck in a circular motion, moving your head so that your chin moves towards your shoulders. Rotate clockwise a few times and then change direction and rotate counter-clockwise. This stretch will iron out any kinks you have in your neck after a good sleep.
Go onto all fours on your bed or the floor, with hands under shoulders and knees in line with your hips. Take a deep breath in, dropping the belly, arching your back and rolling shoulders down and back as you look towards the ceiling. Breathe out slowly, pressing your hands into the ground and rounding the upper back as you stretch upwards to cat pose. Keep moving as you breathe in and out, gently moving the spine up and down. Repeat for a few breaths. This pose helps to circulate spinal fluid, keeping the spine limber and lubricated.
We hope that these stretches help you start your day with a happy, healthy back. If you are unsure at any point or you feel any discomfort, rather speak to a trusted chiropractor in Durban to ensure that you get the most from your morning stretches.