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If you’re a regular chiropractic patient, you may understand the importance of daily stretching to keep your spine limber, improve muscle flexibility and boost blood circulation. These qualities reduce the risk of injury and help you maximize the benefits of spinal adjustments.

If your chiropractor hasn’t offered specific stretching techniques, or you’ve gotten a bit rusty, brush up on some stretching tips here.

Understand the difference between static and dynamic stretching.

A static stretch is when you hold a particular position without moving. The ideal time to hold a static stretch is 15 to 30 seconds. You should feel a slight pulling sensation but no pain. A seated hamstring stretch is an example of a static stretch.

A dynamic stretch involves moving your joints through a full range of motion in a controlled, deliberate manner. This does not describe bouncing into a static stretch, something you should never do to avoid pulling a muscle. Walking lunges and arm circles are examples of dynamic stretches.

Warm up before stretching.

To prevent injuring “cold” muscles, warm them up first. Run in place, do 10 jumping jacks or take a brisk walk around the block. Then, your muscles are a little looser and ready to stretch safely. You can also use dynamic stretching to warm up before doing static stretches.

Don’t try to increase your flexibility too quickly.

Muscle tightness can greatly restrict your daily activities, but it’s unwise to attempt making large gains in flexibility over a short period. The correct approach is to seek gradual improvements over several weeks or longer. If you stretch all major muscle groups for 10 to 20 minutes every day without pushing yourself too far, you’ll start to see the benefits of stretching appear in your daily life.

Perform stretches recommended by chiropractors.

Talk to your chiropractor about which stretches you should do each day to help loosen tension along your spine and treat any specific problem areas you have. For your consideration, here are three stretches most chiropractic patients can perform safely:

  • Cat pose: Kneel on all fours with your knees below your hips and your hands below your shoulders. Bend your back so your abs lower toward the floor. Take a deep breath, and then arch your back to feel a stretch across your shoulder blades. Repeat three to five times.
  • Chest opener: While sitting or standing, clasp your hands behind your back. Pull your shoulders down, straighten your arms and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Lift your chin and lengthen your Hold for five seconds, release and repeat four more times.
  • Lumbar rotation with bent knees: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Rotate your knees to the right until you feel tension in your lower back. Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, and then slowly return to the middle. Repeat on the opposite side.

For more stretching tips, or to schedule an appointment with our chiropractor, please contact Effective Integrative Healthcare.