Relieving Back Tension: A Balanced Routine

27 Apr

HELLLLOOOOOO everyone!!

Before I even get into writing about what this post is regarding, I just have to share this picture of a non-dairy ice cream purchase I made today:

IMG_4224

It is was awesome. While it lasted.

Okay. Back on topic.

(NOTE: I am actually half drunk, so please forgive me if something went unexplained throughout this blog post. It’s Friday night and I bought myself a special wine glass for $1 at Wal-Mart. I had to kill the whole bottle…don’t judge me.)

I have been talking about doing a lower back tension relief article/video for a couple of weeks and I have finally gotten around to it. I am posting the video first, so that I can break down each exercise in order.

All of these stretches will help you to:

  1. Relieve tension
  2. Relieve back DOMS
  3. Increase flexibility
  4. Increase circulation

DISCLAIMER:

PLEASE keep in mind to go at your OWN pace. If for some reason you are not flexible enough to do the ranges of motion that I have done in this video, adjust it to your own experience level. Do NOT try to rush these stretches.

I sped these up somewhat, but you should generally hold each stretch for about 30 seconds to reap the full benefits. This routine can be done once all the way through, or twice, or however many times you want to do it.

Again, go at your own pace and adjust the stretches when and where needed to suit your own individual fitness level.

ONE LAST THING: BREATHING

Remember to breathe DEEP during each stretch. Breathe in through your nose, and exhale lightly through your mouth. Breathe through your stomach and not your chest, attempting to deepen each breath. This will really help you relax your muscles further.

A glass of red wine helps too. 😉

So without further ado, here is the video. Please excuse my nappy appearance.

STRETCH #1: The Cat/Cow Pose

Not sure what cows have to do with this pose but whatever.

In this pose, you will start on all fours. On the inhale, you will curve your spine down (hyperextending), and at the same time raise your head and chest. Really open up through the chest and take in a deep breath.

On the exhale, you’re going to think of pulling your belly into your spine and rounding the back. The neck and head follow and are dropped towards the floor as you get a nice stretch through the upper back. Repeat.

STRETCH #2: Child’s Pose

This stretch is extremely relaxing for the spine. You will be sitting back through your hips onto your bent knees, and reaching forward through the finger tips to loosen up your upper back. The head and neck stay down. After feeling a good stretch in the upper back, completely relax your upper back and arms and allow yourself to sit nicely into the stretch. Again, breathe deep. With ever exhale you should feel yourself relaxing even further.

STRETCH #3: Cobra

Pressing through your palms, raise your chest high into the air, focusing on keeping your feet straight and your hips on the floor as much as possible. Raise yourself only as high as you can to get a great stretch in the lower back and hip flexors.

STRETCH #4: Downward Facing Dog

From the Cobra stretch, come up onto your toes and press your hips back and up into the air. If a close stance is hard, try keeping your feet wider apart and focus on slowly working your feet in closer together until you can keep them close with your heels pressed into the ground.

Doing some extra shoulder stretching and mobility work as well as hamstring stretching prior to this will really help you to nail this pose more. (NOTE: I actually didn’t get a chance to before I did this video so my back wasn’t as straight as it normally is, but you get the idea.)

Try to make sure you are not wearing see-through leggings while doing this stretch. Or on second thought, never mind that. You sexy beasts, you.

STRETCH #5: Lying Hip Flexor Stretch

I don’t actually know what this one is called. But it’s good.

Sitting on your feet, lay back as far as you can, preferably with your shoulders flat against the floor. If your hip flexors are still too tight to do this, you can also rest on your palms or elbows until you can work yourself down to the floor. Breathe deep.

STRETCH #6: Back Bend

Place your hands by your ears about shoulder-width apart, feet flat on the floor. From this position, press into your palms and your heels at the same time to raise your body in the air. Go as high as you can and hold.

Pushing your head further through your arms and towards your glutes will help you to get an even deeper stretch.

Be careful when coming out of this stretch. Walk your feet out slowly and lower yourself to the ground in a controlled manner.

STRETCH #7: Knee Pulls

Bend one leg, and have the other extended. Grasp the bent leg behind the knee and pull it as close as you can to your body. Stay relaxed, breathe deep, and just allow yourself to really stretch out your lower back. Repeat on the other leg, and then grasp both legs behind the knees and pull yourself into a ball, breathing and relaxing your spine. Release slowly.

RECOMMENDATIONS

As said before, I recommend holding each stretch (except for the cat/cow pose) for at least 30 seconds. This routine can be repeated as many times as you’d like. I usually do it 2-3 times and it works like a charm.

EXERCISE ADAPTIONS

If you need help figuring out how to make a certain pose/stretch easier, just let me know in the comments and I will help you out. Stretching is all about working at your own pace. You never want to rush or try to stretch in a way that you know you are not capable of. This puts you at a big risk for injury, which is exactly OPPOSITE of what we are trying to accomplish!!

I hope this post helps and gives some of you with tight backs and idea of what to do for loosening up, improving your flexibility, and relieving tightness. I also hope my explanations were understandable enough. If not, let me know!

Train safe – and, as the yogi’s say: “Namaste!!”

King Cobra pose

King Cobra pose

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4 Responses to “Relieving Back Tension: A Balanced Routine”

  1. A fan in Texas April 27, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    Love you, Christine. Thank you!

  2. VD May 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Hey Christine, cool tatoo on your arm. I know it’s Arabic but what does it say / mean? Do you have any Middle Eastern blood?

    • thecookiemonster May 15, 2013 at 3:38 am #

      Thanks! It means “strength/power”. I am half Syrian. 🙂

      • VD May 15, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

        Cool, that explains the nice dark hair.

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