The best way to stretch your back is with a foam roller. You don’t need any special equipment. Just roll some foam around your lower back and it will feel really good! If you have ever rolled a piece of paper or something similar, then you know how much better it feels than rolling on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. Foam rolls are very easy to use and they work great for stretching out tight muscles too!
I recommend using a foam roller if you’re going to do anything involving your back. I would not suggest doing any sort of physical activity without one though. A foam roller will give you more flexibility and range of motion because it’s made from soft material which helps reduce strain on your joints.
You can buy foam rollers online at Amazon or at most health food stores (like Whole Foods).
Here are some other things you can try while rolling out your back:
– Hold a towel over your head so that the water doesn’t get into your eyes. That’ll make it easier to see what you’re doing.
– Use a chair or a stool to support yourself while rolling out your back. Keep it low enough that you won’t fall down during the exercise.
You can also try this exercise:
Place the roller under your belly button. Place your forearms on the floor and push yourself backwards with your legs until your thighs touch the floor. Hold that position while you roll back and forth over the foam roller. That will help to stretch the muscles in your lower back.
Keep in mind that it is always a good idea to consult with a physician before performing any new exercise or activity.
To avoid getting pulled back down, use a chair to support yourself (keep it low enough that you can’t fall down). Then grab your right ankle with your right hand and slowly pull it forward until you feel a mild stretch. Hold it for about 30 seconds and then switch legs and repeat. You can also do this exercise without using the chair (especially if you want a greater challenge).
Stretching is not usually something that most people like to do but it is an important part of increasing flexibility. You don’t have to spend hours on end stretching either. Just 5 to 10 minutes per day will make a big difference over time.
Always remember to give yourself a rest day every now and then though because your muscles will never get any stronger if you don’t give them time to recover in between days of working out. You have to build up the micro tears that your muscles experience during exercise before you can rebuild them back bigger and stronger.
Also, don’t over do it. Pain is not supposed to be a part of stretching. If you feel pain while stretching it usually means that you are exceeding the limit of your current flexibility.
The hamstrings and most other muscles in the legs are routinely shortened by our everyday routines of walking, standing and just sitting around so they tend to be some of the tightest muscles in our body. That’s why it’s important to stretch them on a regular basis and keep them loose. When we are young the body is naturally flexible so it’s not as much of a problem, but as we age most of us start to lose that flexibility which can lead to more injuries as we start to lose the ability to stretch and reach certain parts of our body.
The hamstrings are a set of three different muscles (and sometimes a fourth small muscle called the popliteus) found in the back of the upper legs. Unlike most muscles in the body which are attached to the skin, the hamstrings are connected to a thick sheet of fibrous connective tissue called the fascia lata. They are used for bending the knee and lifting the heels such as when you are walking up stairs or running.
Again, unless your job requires you to stand or walk all day, you probably spend most of your day sitting in a chair. That doesn’t really give your hamstrings much of a workout. Even if you do exercise, many people (especially those that are older) don’t exercise their hamstrings as much as they should so they are still rather tight.
This is most likely because you spend so much of your life with your legs in a “sitting position”. Rather than spending all day long standing up and then walking somewhere and sitting down when you get there. Just think about how many times you get up to walk into another room and then you just sit down somewhere in that room rather than standing there.
We tend to forget that our bodies weren’t really designed to “sit” for such long periods of time because most of our existence as a human has been spent in a state of activity. Even when we sleep, our body is usually in a state of repose (laying down) but not really in a state of inactivity (there is a huge difference between sleeping and just being lazy).
So the hamstrings are usually shortened all the time unless you make a conscious effort to “stretch” them on a regular basis.
As I have said before, stretching doesn’t have to be boring or tedious. You can make it fun if you really just put your mind to it.
One of the best ways to “stretch” your hamstrings is to do what is called a “hamstring roll”.
This is where you lie on your back with your legs straight up in the air. Using your hands you grab onto your ankles and lift your legs up over your head.
Sources & references used in this article:
Acute effects of static versus dynamic stretching on isometric peak torque, electromyography, and mechanomyography of the biceps femoris muscle by TJ Herda, JT Cramer, ED Ryan… – The Journal of …, 2008 – journals.lww.com
Sport stretch by J Loney, BMR PT, L Mills-Hutton, B Comm
Stretching by MJ Alter – 1998 – books.google.com
The anatomy of stretching: your illustrated guide to flexibility and injury rehabilitation by B Anderson – 2010 – books.google.com
The stretching handbook by E Gillies – 2004 – Fair Winds Press
Effectiveness of a stretching exercise program on low back pain and exercise self-efficacy among nurses in Taiwan: a randomized clinical trial by B Walker – 2013 – books.google.com
Developing a stretching program by B Walker – 2007 – books.google.com
Stretching Basics: Stretching & Flexibility for Sport, Lifestyle and Injury Prevention with Australia’s Body Coach by HM Chen, HH Wang, CH Chen, HM Hu – Pain Management Nursing, 2014 – Elsevier