The following is a guest blog written by Dr. Todd Sinett for SpineNation. Dr. Sinett is a Chiropractor, founder of Tru Whole Care, inventor of the Backbridge, and author of The Good Sh*t , 3 Weeks to A Better Back, and The Back Pain Relief Diet among other titles.
How flexible are you?
Aging, exercise, and the daily stressors and baggage of life affect our body in many ways, most of which manifests in soreness, tightness, or other painful feelings. Even activities that don’t seem harmful, like sitting can put stress on our bodies and allow them to become stiff. There have been studies that have called sitting ‘the new smoking.’
While we may not be able to control the number of hours that we have to sit (because of our stay-at-home jobs and lives), some simple movements with my Backbridge can help you counteract a lot of the harmful effects
caused by sitting and other daily activities.
Stretching to regain flexibility
Stretching is a gentle exercise and should be done daily. Stretching helps
loosen up stiff and tender muscles, relieves discomfort, and helps adults regain their flexibility as a child. It can even lengthen your life.
Why is it important to reclaim your flexibility? Our flexibility affects our ability to bend and move and impacts our overall vitality. To be truly healthy and fit, you need to have a balance of three fitness factors:
- Strength, and
As a doctor, I have seen way too many patients and athletes who have more than adequate strength and aerobic function but severely lack flexibility. This lack of flexibility is one of the many reasons I invented the Backbridge. The benefits of improved flexibility include better posture, improved coordination with reduced injuries, and improved blood circulation.
Stretching with the Backbridge
In 2008 I created the Backbridge to help people correct core imbalance and back pain. The vast majority of us suffer from core imbalance caused by too much forward hunch in our spine. This flexion is caused by the aging process and improper exercise practices. Spending too much time slumped forward all day in front of computers, texting on mobile devices, or anything else we may do while sitting with poor posture, all contribute to flexion and pain.
The best part about the Backbridge is that it doesn’t just return flexibility to your spine; it returns flexibility to your entire body. The Backbridge is the perfect tool to help you achieve improved flexibility for two main reasons:
- Its arched, contoured design maximizes a muscle’s isolation, resulting in a deeper, better stretch.
- Its interlocking, stackable levels allow you to alter the intensity of any stretch.
When you stretch at your level of flexibility, you prevent injuries and discomfort from over-stretching. In some stretches, the highest level of the Backbridge (level 5) will allow for the easiest stretch by limiting the amount of stretch or range of motion, while using level 5 in other stretches will create the maximum amount of stretch. Being able to deepen your stretches allows your body to become stronger and more flexible, and the Backbridge will enable you to progress gradually and safely.
Where to start with the Backbridge
As my gift to you – here is a full-body stretch routine with the support of the Backbridge. I do this personally almost every day. Ideally, anyone can do this whole routine in about 15-20 minutes. Make sure you do each stretch on both sides of your body. When it applies, holding each stretch for about 20 seconds unless otherwise noted. Remember, maintaining good flexibility is vital to one’s health!
This exercise puts much-needed extension into one’s spine while counteracting the forward hunch we do all day. It extends the spine, opens up the chest and shoulders, and realigns your posture. It is proven to rid your body of back pain caused by postural imbalance.
To do this stretch, sit at the base of the Backbridge. Lie back so that the highest point of the Backbridge is between your shoulders blades and your head is touching the floor. Rest your arms on the ground behind your head and hold this stretch for 2 minutes. You can do this stretch with your legs extended or your knees bent. Level 1 is the easiest and 5 is the most difficult. After a few weeks, slowly progress to the next level.
Lie on your back, placing the Backbridge under your knees. The level doesn’t affect the stretch here, so choose which feels most comfortable. Reach your arms behind you (over your head along the ground) to
lengthen the spine.
Lay on your side and stretch over the Backbridge so that the highest point of the Backbridge is at your rib cage. With your bottom hand, grab the wrist of your top hand and extend your arms overhead along the ground. As you progress, add more levels of the Backbridge to increase the stretch and loosen up your side muscles.
Lie face down over the Backbridge and place your hands in front of you. Do half a push up so that your upper torso is elevated, but your pelvis still has contact with the Backbridge. Face forward and hold for a count of five, then slowly lower yourself down and repeat. This stretch works your lumbar extenders and lower back while stretching and lengthening the core. The higher the level you use, the easier this stretch will be.
Place the Backbridge about 12 inches to the side of your hips. Extend your arms to the side in a “T,” keeping your shoulders flat on the mat, and bring one knee towards your chest. With your other leg flat on the mat, pull your bent knee across your torso, placing it on the Backbridge. Hold the stretch and repeat on the opposite side. Level 1 will be the most challenging. The key to this stretch is keeping both of your shoulders on the mat.
Consistency is key
As a reminder, our flexibility affects our ability to bend and move and impacts our overall vitality. Make time to do stretches with the Backbridge every day. You will slowly see improvements in flexibility each day.
A special note to anyone who may be using the Backbridge:
If you have had spinal fusion or other types of spine surgeries, start by using the Backbridge in a seated position. You’ll place the Backbridge behind you in a chair or couch first. Make sure that you listen to your body and stop the stretch if you hit a pain point.