All of us need a flexible back which allows us to do the activities such as skating, dancing, sports, and gymnastics more easily. Naturally, bending forward is easier and is possible to a higher degree than bending backward. However, the range of motion of the back differs in each person. Few people have a higher degree of bending backward as well. Yes! You are born with a certain bony structure which allows a limited degree of movement. But this does not mean that you cannot do anything to improve its movement.
Adding certain stretches to your daily exercises can keep your back muscles flexible and prevent back injuries. Before you begin the stretching exercises, a five to ten minute warm-up of the back muscles helps the body to adapt to the stretches. So perform full-body movements such as walking, jogging, stair climbing, cycling, and dancing, etc. before performing the stretches.
Avoid overstretching, stretch only to the point of mild tension. These stretches shouldn’t cause pain or pinch your back muscles. Do not perform any of the exercises for more than 30 seconds.
- Lunge position – This is good for beginners. Stand straight and push your pelvis down while bending one of your legs backward. Do not push too hard that you feel pain or pressure. Hold for some time and repeat on the other side.
- Pike stretch – Sit on the floor and stretch your legs straight; lean forward trying to touch your toes. This stretches the lower back, the hamstrings, and the leg muscles. A standing pike stretch can also have the similar effect. Stand straight and bend forward as much as you can, trying to touch your toes.
- Rag doll pose – Stand with your feet little apart and slowly bend forward at your waist. In this position your head, arms and the upper torso will be dangling loosely, facing the floor. Breathe in and exhale out slowly and you can notice your back muscles loosening. Perform this stretch once in the morning and once in the evening every day.
- Low-back rotation – Sit in a chair with feet touching the floor. Twist your upper body while rotating your shoulders to one side to the extent you can stretch comfortably. You can feel a pull on your back and may hear a painless crack from your spine which is normal. Hold on for 20 seconds and come back to your normal posture. Repeat this on the other side.
- Cobra pose – Lie down on your stomach with your hands apart and face down. Slowly raise your head upwards while raising your hands without bending them. Hold on for a few seconds and then lower your torso slowly. Repeat for 5 times.
- Basket pose – While lying on your stomach, bend your knees backward and reach behind to grab your ankles with hands. Lift up with your hands and feet.
- Bridge pose – Lie on your back with your arms and knees little apart and slowly lift your waist up to give a bridge pose. Stay for about 5 seconds or for the time you can without straining much. This stretch strengthens your back, abdominal muscles, butt, and hamstrings.
- Cross-leg spinal twist – Lie down on your back with knees flexed and feet touching the floor. Stretch out your arms with palms facing downwards. Bring your left knee over the right knee while shifting your hips and slowly try to touch your knees to the ground level or to the extent possible. Hold for 1 to 2 minutes and repeat on the other side.
- Squat stretch – Stand with your legs apart and slowly bend at your knees while tightening your abs and buttocks. Bring your thighs parallel to the ground level. Now place your hands on the thighs and press down on your right knee with your hand and turn your shoulders towards your left. Stand up and repeat this on your right side.
- Wall slide – Stand against a wall with your hands raised up till your shoulder level facing forward. Now slowly move your hands upwards against the wall without moving the shoulder blade or head and reach the maximum possible height. Slowly get them back to the original position and repeat for 8-12 times. You can feel the stretch on your upper back, chest and shoulder.
Other approaches to increase your flexibility without stretching
Stretching is of course incredibly important to improve the range of motion in your back. However, do not feel bad if you can’t spend extra minutes on stretching exercises. Incorporating few changes in your daily activities honestly can bring a big difference. Pay attention to these little things and see the difference.
Switch to sleep on your back
Although there are controversies regarding the sleeping posture, sleeping on your back, preferably without a pillow aligns your head, neck, and spine in a neutral posture. This makes you feel more easy and natural to do the stretching exercises the next morning. It also reduces your back pain.
Sit in lotus posture or full lotus posture (“Padmasana”) when appropriate. If doing this is not possible at your desk, you may twist towards your left and right by 90 degrees frequently.
While you stand
Straightening your spine while standing or sitting correlates positively with your spine’s flexibility. Slouching restricts the muscles in your lower back, neck and shoulders. Standing or sitting straight lengthens your spines discs, and thus their flexibility is improved.
Keep your muscles engaged to target more flexibility. Move frequently while you are standing to wait in a queue if possible. It is not only interesting and adds little more fun.
While climbing stairs try skipping one or two steps to stretch further. Also, while walking you may take giant steps to give a stretch to your legs which they are craving for. This can increase the flexibility of your back.
To make the above-mentioned actions easier, comfortable clothing which does not restrict these movements is important. So do not overlook on your clothing.
It takes time to increase the flexibility of your back and accomplishing this needs patience, as the task can be very easy to very difficult based on your body type. The more you condition your back muscles, the more flexible it turns and you can have a better posture. So make these stretches part of your daily routines and make the cheerleading elements such as jumping, stunting or tumbling easier to perform.