RECLAIM YOUR FLEXIBILITY WITH THE BACKBRIDGE
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Aging, exercise, and the daily stressors and baggage of life affect our body in many ways, most of which manifest in soreness, tightness or other feelings of pain. Even activities that don’t seem harmful, like sitting, can stress our bodies and allow them to become stiff. There have even been studies that have called sitting “the new smoking.” While we may not control the number of hours that we have to sit, these tips can help you counteract many harmful effects caused by sitting and other daily activities.
Stretching is a gentle exercise that should be done daily to help you loosen up stiff and tender muscles, relieve discomfort, and regain the flexibility you had as a child. It can even lengthen your life. As a doctor, I have seen too many patients and athletes who have more than adequate strength and aerobic function but severely lack flexibility. 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:
The Benefits of Improved Flexibility
Having great flexibility means you’ll also be able to stand up straighter, walk far- ther, and do more things with less pain. As we age, our joints and muscles stiffen, making it more difficult to perform various tasks, such as bending over, walking up steps and even sitting.
- Improved coordination prevents injury. Improved flexibility allows us to have better balance and coordination. Better balance and coordination means fewer falls.
- Improved Blood Circulation. Blood is pumped back to your heart through your veins by the squeezing and relaxing of skeletal muscles. Stretching helps relax your muscles, allowing circulation to improve. This has various benefits such as increased oxygen delivery, reduction in cramping, and an increased capacity for performance. In other words, better flexibility leads to better endurance and better recovery.
The Backbridge for Improved Flexibility
In 2008 I created the Backbridge to help people correct core imbalance and back pain. The vast majority of us are suffering from core imbalance caused by too much forward hunch. This flexion is brought on by our aging process, improper exercise practices, as well as being slumped forward all day in front of computers while commuting, texting on mobile devices, driving on long road trips or anything else we may do while we are sitting with poor posture. As I continued to help people with their back pain, core imbalance, and spinal flexibility, I realized the Backbridge 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 own 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 and/or range of motion, while using level 5 in other stretches will create the maximum amount of stretch. As you improve your flexibility, you will increase the stretch factor just by adding or removing levels. Without the Backbridge, stretches are static and essentially always the same. You wouldn’t want to continually lift the same amount of weight or always do the same aerobic exercise because your strength and endurance will plateau. So why would you always want to stretch the same? 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.
- The golden rule: Do not bounce while stretching. Find a comfortable position and remain static in your stretch.
- Move slowly. It’s not a race, so ease into each stretch to reduce the risk of over-stretching and subsequent injury.
- Stretch often. Stretching increases the elasticity of your muscles, but you can’t do it all in one 15 minutes stretching workout. Stretching should be done frequently. Remember, one stretch won’t make you flexible, just like going on one run won’t make you aerobically fit. Make stretching a consistent part of your fitness routine.
- Breathe. The key is to relax so you can achieve a better stretch. Remembering to breathe allows you to let go of the stress.
- It shouldn’t be painful. It would help if you weren’t grimacing in pain while stretching. Make sure to listen to your body and stay within your limits. While you should approach your boundaries, only do what you’re actually capable of doing. Remember, if it hurts, don’t do it. This is your body telling you to stop. A stretch should be enjoyable.
Looking for a complete outline of stretches? You can now purchase my Backbridge Stretch Book HERE.