Get in losers, we’re going to start stretching every day (for real, this time). Why? Well, as orthopedic surgeon Dr. Brian A. Cole, M.D., FAAOS recently informed us, 60-80% of adults will at some point experience back pain. Not a fan of those odds (she types, hunched over a computer). “Low back pain can start when we are in our 20s and can be a recurring problem triggered by various events in life,” he adds, telling us that he sees a high incidence of low-back pain complaints at his practice. “I suspect that the cause of the increased pain is longer times spent sitting in chairs that are not ergonomic in nature and confining ourselves to smaller work spaces … Ultimately, the end result is more time sitting.”
So we asked Dr. Cole to share the one stretch we should start doing—because starting with small, sustainable changes is key in creating new habits. Not surprisingly, the answer helps mitigate aches and pains from sitting too much. Here’s his recommendation:
– Stretch forward and hug your knees for a minute. This opens up the back of the spine and stretches the posterior ligaments.
– Then, stand up and arch your back by bringing your stomach as far forward as you can. This puts the spine through its complete range of motion.
– Next, reach side to side while standing, trying to reach your hands as far as possible down each lateral thigh.
– Finally, rotate the spine. Think of the motion you do while playing with a hula hoop.
“If you can do this every hour, I think that you will minimize any potential aches and pains,” he says. Since we are unlikely to go from zero stretching to stretching once per hour, we’re gonna work up to that—but remember! Slow, sustainable changes!”
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