Opinion

Thiel: An exercise that helps to alleviate spinal pain or stiffness

Many of my patients ask my advice on exercises they can do at home to reduce any spinal pain or stiffness they may have.

If you are one of the many people who wake up with a stiff low back or sore neck in the morning, this is a perfect exercise for you.

I call it the “wringing out of the spine.” It should be done immediately before you go to bed and immediately upon waking. The exercise should only take about three minutes and it will keep you limber, flexible and out of your chiropractor’s office.

Start sitting on the edge of your bed, or chair, with your feet flat on the ground. Extend your arms out in front of you with your hands on your opposite elbows.

Hold them straight outwards. Make sure that your back is straight and upright throughout the exercise. Beginning with your neck turned ‘almost’ as far as you can to your right. When you’re there, begin to rotate with your mid back and ribs followed by your low back.

Your pelvis should stay stationary throughout the exercise. Repeat in the other direction. This movement is very slow, controlled, intentional and non-ballistic.

Moving too quickly could hurt you, especially first thing in the morning.

You should take three minutes to do this exercise doing as many repetitions as you can in a controlled manner.

It is important to start with your neck first and finish with your low back in a sequential fashion.

Imagine that you will holding a wet towel that is wound tightly and you want to wring the water out of it. This is what you’ll be doing with your spinal column. We have small joints that run the length of our spine called ‘facet joints.’

These little fellas need to move and they do not get their nutrition nor their lubrication without movement. This is why we all feel so stiff after a long car ride or prolonged bed rest from a flu.

Essentially, joints are joints because they require movement. They are supposed to move. The more they move the healthier they will be.

There’s a fluid called synovial fluid that bathes all of our joints. As we age, we produce less of the synovial fluid resulting stiffness and reduced range of motion.

Think of the joints of your spine as a hydraulic system. They need to have movement and pressure in order to move this nutrition rich lubrication fluid into the joints that need them to live. It’s much like working oil into wood. It’s a very simple exercise I look in my patients as I find it helps them greatly in their battle of this thing we call Father Time. Try it for one week, you’ll knows the difference and you’ll sleep better. Just be cautious not to go to your full range of motion while this exercise. You should only go about 90% of your full range

It’s my most favorite exercise for spinal health.

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