Back Flexibility Stretches
A flexible back helps keep the body feeling young, agile and nimble. Back flexibility stretches also help prevent back pain and increase the amount of activity or strain your back can handle on a day-to-day basis. No matter the stretch, start at a comfortable level. Even if you don't complete the full stretch, it's best to gradually work your spine up to its peak flexibility rather than throwing your back out.
Begin the flexion by standing straight with your feet shoulders-width apart. Bend forward from your waist, bringing your outstretched fingers as close to your toes as comfortably possible. If you don't reach your toes initially, don't worry -- you can increase the length of this stretch gradually as you build additional flexibility in your back. Hold your downward position for up to a minute and then rise up with a flat back. You can also try this stretch from a seated position; utilizing the same toe-touching motion.
Lie on your back holding your hands at your sides with your knees bent. Keep your feet planted near your buttocks, resting on the floor about six inches apart. With a slow, controlled motion, lift your tail bone first and then one vertebra at a time. In the end pose, your entire back, up to your shoulders, should be off the ground. Hold the pose for 30 seconds and then lower down one vertebra at a time. This stretch aids in increasing back flexibility and strengthening the lower back and abdominal areas.
Lower Trunk Rotation
Lying on your back with your knees together and bent, lift your feet off the floor and drop your knees to one side. Hold this position for three to five seconds. Tighten your abdominal muscles and bring your legs over to the opposite side -- hold for an additional count. Do five to 10 repetitions of this stretch. Lower trunk rotations help to improve flexibility in the lower back region and hips as they increase mobility and rotation of the spine.
Dog and Cat
The dog and cat stretch finds it origins in yoga. Starting from your hands and knees, inhale and tilt your tail bone upward. Concave your back, drop your stomach and lift your head up. Hold this pose -- known as the “dog” -- gently for a moment and then do the cat portion by exhaling, tilting your tail bone down and curving your spine upward with your stomach held in. Undulate between the two poses, focusing on controlled breath and smooth motions to increase flexibility in your spine.
In addition to fitness experience including USFCA fencing discipline, stage combat, track and equestrian training, Dan has contributed health and fitness-oriented content to AZCentral, SportsRec, JillianMichaels.com, ModernMom, The Nest and more.