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Old 06-02-2011, 09:46 PM   #21
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Hogwash or not, stretching regularly just helps us feel better all over - hopefully continuing this (we are both in our 40's now) over the years will prevent/delay aches and pains many deal with on a daily basis. We both feel noticeably better when we are "more limber"...

Wishing you the best Al, and give regular stretching a whirl, and stick with it if you see some improvement! (it's free! )
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:47 PM   #22
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Well that's all very encouraging. I already had the Gokhale book on hold, and it is ready to be picked up. Hopefully I can learn out how to get the benefits of stretching even without a torture station (that's black and not red ).
For the fun non-injury version of the hamstring stretch that I learned at physical therapy, try laying on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Lift one leg (keeping the other on the floor), straighten it at the knee, and pull the foot down until your leg is against your torso. Hold for 20-30 seconds.

The straighter you keep your knee (and the flatter you keep your back & other leg on the floor), the more hamstring stretch you get.

If you can't grab your foot with your hands in this position, then loop a towel around your heel and pull on the ends of the towel.

You'll feel the stretch in your glutes and lower back as well, but without the disc-crunching contortions that you get from bending over to touch your toes.

I'd also recommend "Stretching Scientifically". Once you're healthy again, there's a lot more to stretching than just the static passive version. Kurz is a bit authoritarian in his advice but it's medically sound and it's used in our dojang.

Someday I'm going to have to get my core workouts from stand-up paddleboarding. But I'll probably need a pickup truck to carry the board.
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:50 PM   #23
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Hogwash or not, stretching regularly just helps us feel better all over - hopefully continuing this (we are both in our 40's now) over the years will prevent/delay aches and pains many deal with on a daily basis. We both feel noticeably better when we are "more limber"...
Many of the aches and pains that I thought were inevitable due to age, are gone or greatly lessened since I began stretching regularly. That helps me to feel younger every day.
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Old 06-03-2011, 01:52 PM   #24
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I did my normal 15 minutes morning exercise today, then decided I needed a pedicure. After about 15 minutes of clipping, brushing, filing, and such, in a bent over position, I straightened up and my lower back got really tight.

Not sure if they are going get sore/stiffe but both my erector spinae seem very highly contracted right now.

So, evidently stretching is not a guarantee.
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Old 06-04-2011, 09:29 AM   #25
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The methods described in Esther Gokhale's book have increased by flexibility much more than any traditional stretching routine.
Thanks, Sunset. I'm now halfway through that book and I'm impressed.

She noticed that back pain problems occur in 80-90% of people in our culture, and only 5% in some other cultures. I'm sure that much of that is due to reporting biases (and see this), but that's a big difference.

She has studied the differences in how people from those other cultures sit/stand/work, and her notions of what good posture is are somewhat different from the traditional ideas in this country.

She makes the point that most people are told to hold their shoulders back and "sit up straight," but that the new posture lasts about 10 seconds. That's true for me. In the video below, you'll see her alternative.

This gives a good feeling for what the book is about:

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Old 06-04-2011, 09:32 AM   #26
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I straightened up and my lower back got really tight.
My new protocol is that whenever something like that happens, I immediately put ice on it, even if it seems minor. I've had a bunch of little reinjuries during my recovery (e.g. finding a beer in the back of the lower shelf of the fridge) and I think that has helped.
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Old 06-04-2011, 10:19 AM   #27
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After about 15 minutes of clipping, brushing, filing, and such, in a bent over position, I straightened up and my lower back got really tight.
I discovered that this doesn't happen to me when I straighten up leading the movement with my pelvis -- that is, rotate my pelvis back (as I do with a tummy tuck) when starting the straightening.
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Old 06-04-2011, 11:00 AM   #28
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I posted here how Thai massage is doing wonders loosening my muscles. Everything is more flexible with less static muscle tension, my back most of all.

As for stretching technique, If you've never heard of Active Isolated Stretching, everything you know about stretching is wrong in my not so humble opinion. I started doing this in '97 after stumbling across a book by the guys who developed it (Jim and Phil Wharton). The technique has gained wide acceptance since then and others have taken it farther than the Whartons. Two best aspects of this technique is one gets more results in less time and athletes who use it have fewer injuries. The book I used is still in print.
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Old 06-04-2011, 03:22 PM   #29
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I discovered that this doesn't happen to me when I straighten up leading the movement with my pelvis -- that is, rotate my pelvis back (as I do with a tummy tuck) when starting the straightening.
Thanks, I'll try to remember that method.

Meanwhile, I think getting a professional pedicure might be my first choice. Also I may hire someone to put my socks on for me, unless I can convince the DW that I need to wear flip flops to all events.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:35 PM   #30
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Inversion.

Hanging by the ankles. Just for the fun of it, I do it two or three times a week. 5 to 10 minutes. Rarely ever have back problems. If I have it it is from lots of digging or shovelling.
Oh yeah, invert before food or liquid inputs.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:19 PM   #31
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That's interesting. This exercise stretches the spine slightly, and it feels quite good.

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Old 06-06-2011, 12:26 PM   #32
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As usual, my Internet research has shown a bit of controversy over which exercises/stretches are good for the back, and which are actually harmful. I've even seen a book that says that most of the science in this area is bad, and that it's not clear what causes back problems and what prevents them.

But in any case, here's my preliminary list of stretches that I will be working with:

Back Exercises (import from MobiList)
Flat Back Snow Angel
Knee Raise
Hamstring Stretch (Strap)
Press-up
Lumbar Rotation
Paper Clip
Plank
Side Plank
Hamstring Stretch (Wall)
Standing Leg Raise
Neck Stretch
Ingela Stretch
What I call the Snow Angel is the "Strengthen you Postural Muscles one here.

The Ingela Stretch involves standing and pushing your shoulderblades together.

The paperclip stretch involves putting an ankle on the opposite knee, and then pulling the knee towards your chest (on your back).
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Old 06-06-2011, 02:42 PM   #33
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Great thread. I'm excited to read some of the information folks have linked.

I second the comment earlier about not trying to stretch via bending at your waist to touch your toes. I've been having chronic lower back pain now for 5 months and have recently begun to try and do something about it via excercise. At first I tried to stretch this way and it didn't seem to matter how long I held the stretch or how often I did it, things didn't get better and in fact one morning I caused a muscle spasm that made me miss work.

I've now found that even one downward dog yoga stretch held for 10-20 seconds will have a significant and immediate impact that far exceeds anything I was able to try and obtain via the traditional bend at the wait and touch your toes stretch.

I actually started excercising regularly again last week including 3 sessions of yoga. Looking forward to the progress.
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Old 06-06-2011, 03:53 PM   #34
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The other thing I've done which seems to help with my back/legs/neck is wear shoes that have a zero percent drop from heel to toe. I also walk in these shoes that drop the heel below the toes to counter the large heels (relatively for a guy) on my work shoes. I certainly can feel the extra workout in my calf muscles. The extra range of motion and stretching the calf muscles seems to take pressure off the knee and hamstrings which in turn feel like they help to keep the back flexible and make good posture easier. The negative drop shoes aren't cheap, but neutral shoes can be $5 rubber sandals. After wearing high heels for a number of years DW credits the negative drop shoes with eliminating much of her foot pain as well - she runs marathons so it is a big issue for her.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:47 PM   #35
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Kind of like the "Earth Shoes" from the 1970s.
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:36 PM   #36
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No amount of stretching has made my lower back tension go away but I do find that doing a relaxation method is helping.

I get comfortable on the living room carpet, face up/on my back and put my legs on the coffee table with the coffee table lined up just above the buttocks.

Then just wait till the muscles all start to relax (maybe 10 minutes) and just do some slight undulations like an inch worm walking.

Back seems to lose the tension. It comes back when I genuflect, so none of that for a while.
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Old 06-13-2011, 10:10 AM   #37
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One-Week Update

I've now done the stretches and exercises below two times per day for one week. For example, in the morning I have breakfast, take one aspirin, use the elliptical trainer for a few minutes to warm up the muscle then do the exercises.

I've done a lot of research on stretching and realized that I've probably been stretching too hard in the past. That is, if you stretch almost to the point of pain, it can be counter-productive.

I am noticing some improvements in flexibility. For example, for this stretch:



I could only get my leg to about the 10:30 position. I can now get it to about 11:30. I also notice that putting on socks and shoes is easier. I can barely touch my toes now (was about 4 inches away from that before), but I avoid that exercise since many sites say that it is dangerous.

In addition to the long-term goal of preventing back injury, I have a shorter term goal of being able to play piano without a special backrest chair. After stretching I play piano that way for about half an hour and then ice my back. That still makes my back a little sore.

I'm expecting more improvement after a few more weeks. I think this routine is sustainable, at least for one time per day.


Back Exercises (import to MobiList)
Cat Stretch
Neck Raise with Strap
Knee Raise
Hip Raise
Hamstring Stretch (Strap)
Press-up
Lumbar Rotation
Child's Pose
Paper Clip
Plank
Side Plank
Hamstring Stretch (Wall)
Pectoralis Doorway Stretch
Standing Leg Raise
Neck Stretch
Ingela Stretch
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Old 06-13-2011, 10:38 AM   #38
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I have seen gains in my flexibility from stretching. I have lower back issues and plantar fasciitis caused by massive antibiotics four years ago when I had diverticulitis that damaged my Achilles tendon. I began stretching to help out those issues and I have seen significant gains. When I started, for instance, I was maybe 8-10 inches from touching my toes when I stretch my hamstring. Now, on a good day, I can touch my toes.

Unfortunately, the back and foot problems persist despite working on stretching, core strength and back strength. If I slack off even fro a week or two, my back begins to hurt and it takes weeks or months of stretching, exercising and walking to get it back into shape. You'd think I'd learn not to slack off, but no.
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Old 06-13-2011, 02:42 PM   #39
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Just thought I'd provide a contrary view point: I had major back surgery 45 years ago and have had chronic back pain for most of the ensuing years. I have tried every back stretching/strengthening regime there is. I have yet to find one that I can do (no matter how gradually I work into it) that doesn't make my pain worse over time. Therefore, I don't do any stretching.
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Old 06-20-2011, 09:48 AM   #40
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Thanks for that info, Grumpy -- I hope it will work better for me.

Two week update: Still more gains in hamstring: I can now get to 12:00. No real change related to playing the piano.

I've divided the exercises into stretches vs. strengthening, and I only do the stretches twice a day. I have more rest days between the strengthening exercises.
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