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Has Anyone Successfully Stretched His/Her Back?
Old 06-02-2011, 01:24 PM   #1
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Has Anyone Successfully Stretched His/Her Back?

I've learned that a strong core is apparently not sufficient to avoid lower back muscle strains. So, I am going to do more stretching exercises.

I want to be convinced that stretching really helps. Has anyone noticed a significant increase in mobility from stretching? For example, could you touch your toes only after weeks or months of stretching?
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:39 PM   #2
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Yes, you can improve. Take a look here and start at the beginning: MobilityWOD

(in other words, go to the last page of the blog and work your way toward the beginning. He has a presentation style that takes a while to get in tune with, but it will be an education...)
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:43 PM   #3
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I have trouble with flexibility, in the case of touching my toes, but it's my hamstrings, not my lower back.

Nevertheless, check out this site. PhysioAdvisor - Physiotherapy, Sports Injuries, Diagnosis, Treatment - Home
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:12 PM   #4
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For example, could you touch your toes only after weeks or months of stretching?
I used to practice this, but quit after reading this
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One of the most common stretches for the hamstrings is bending over from a stand to touch the toes. You already know that bending over with straight legs to pick up a package is unhealthy for your back. Bending over to stretch is just as unhealthy. Forward bending puts large forces on the discs of your lower back, and is not even a highly effective stretch for your hamstrings. Bending over to touch toes is a common contributor to back pain, whether you keep your back rounded or straight. I will show you more about exactly why in future posts.
Healthier Hamstring Stretching
from Dr. Jolie Bookspan. But I do still practice a toe-touch sitting on the floor. I can't say I've gained any apparent flexibility from this and other back exercises, but I can do something now without the twinges of pain it used to cause, which is rock forward and backwards on bent back.
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:33 PM   #5
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I think the stretching station at my gym is the most helpful piece of equipment they've got. I stretch for ten minutes every time I go there and it has helped IMMENSELY. I am way, way much more flexible and get injured less frequently now that I am stretching regularly. My mobility is greatly improved too, though I can't think of any examples other than cleaning the cabinets under the sink, changing light bulbs more easily than before, and so on.

As an added advantage to regular stretching, what I thought were aches and pains of aging or maybe arthritis (and were even diagnosed by a rheumatologist as osteoarthritis) have diminished or disappeared. I guess that I may in fact have a little osteoarthritis but maybe not enough to cause much noticable pain.

Anyway, without all those aches and pains I sleep a lot better, too.

Last winter I stopped stretching for about a month and one day my leg/lower back started bothering me a lot. It took about a month before I recovered and now I am back to stretching each time I work out at the gym.
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:53 PM   #6
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The methods described in Esther Gokhale's book have increased by flexibility much more than any traditional stretching routine. After a month or so I can kick my foot to head level fully extended and I've noticed improved circulation in my lower body. Prior to following it I couldn't kick my foot above my shoulder level even after over a year of tae kwon do.
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:58 PM   #7
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As an added advantage to regular stretching, what I thought were aches and pains of aging or maybe arthritis (and were even diagnosed by a rheumatologist as osteoarthritis) have diminished or disappeared. I guess that I may in fact have a little osteoarthritis but maybe not enough to cause much noticable pain.
Was this osteo diagnosis made with x-ray confirmation, or just clinical judgment? If you actually have spurs or joint narrowing, and stretching helped you with pain and function, that would be a very strong recommendation for stretching.

Ha
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:04 PM   #8
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Was this osteo diagnosis made with x-ray confirmation, or just clinical judgment? If you actually have spurs or joint narrowing, and stretching helped you with pain and function, that would be a very strong recommendation for stretching.

Ha
Yes, it was made with x-ray confirmation after I went to a highly regarded rheumatologist for knee/hip/back joint pain, and consequently I was put on Celebrex for several years (until I decided I would rather hurt than risk taking it any longer). At the time I was in SO much pain that I couldn't believe that it was just osteoarthritis and insisted that he check for rheumatoid arthritis, but I didn't have the latter. My memory of the details of the x-rays are fuzzy, but I clearly remember that he said I had osteoarthritic degeneration and that was the cause of my pain.

I don't recall anything about spurs or joint narrowing, but just osteoarthritic degeneration of the spine and probably elsewhere. This was diagnosed in the year 2000.

I'm not saying that stretching cures osteoarthritis - - but just that the pain I reported to my rheumatologist was assigned to it and apparently my osteoarthritis was not the culprit (yet). Maybe some day I will have more pain from arthritis but I think that my doctor and I were both assigning a lot more to it than it was really responsible for. Lack of flexibility and tightening of tissues apparently resulted in considerable yanking and pulling of tissues during normal activies, and I believe that resulted in the extreme pain that I was feeling.

By the way, no stretching routine that I had tried at home made the slightest bit of difference in reducing my pain. The stretching station at my gym did. I don't know why, except that it was more convenient and makes stretching easier to do correctly and regularly. I probably do more stretches for a lot longer at the gym (about ten minutes there), than I ever did at home.

Something to consider is that even if I am full of hogwash, if someone already belongs to a gym and experiences large joint pain then using the stretching station to see if it helps, isn't going to be a huge inconvenience.
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:30 PM   #9
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By the way, no stretching routine that I had tried at home made the slightest bit of difference in reducing my pain. The stretching station at my gym did. I don't know why, except that it was more convenient and makes stretching easier to do correctly and regularly. I probably do more stretches for a lot longer at the gym (about ten minutes there), than I ever did at home.

Something to consider is that even if I am full of hogwash, if someone already belongs to a gym and experiences large joint pain then using the stretching station to see if it helps, isn't going to be a huge inconvenience.
I definitely do not think that you are full of hogwash. You seem to always be a careful reporter. I have always slighted stretching, believing that it was just wasted time, but I will try it. I am not sure what a stretching station is, but my gym has kind of a chair that you put into different postions, and it seems to really put a stretch on different muscle groups.

I have modest joint narrowing in one hip, likely started from an old injury, and obvious (with X-ray) arthritic changes along my spine, but it is mostly the hip that hurts, not always but often enough. Only occasionally does it bother me enough to take ibu.

Ha
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:55 PM   #10
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Thank you for thinking I am not full of hogwash! I assure you that sometimes I am pretty far off the mark, but I do try so your remark is appreciated.

Ah, here's the one at my gym. Except, the one at my gym is black, not red. It is about 10' long, I would guess. It is so busy that we have two at my gym. In this photo, you can see the little signs at each station explaining and diagramming what to do.
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File Type: jpg keiser-stretch.jpg (22.4 KB, 291 views)
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:11 PM   #11
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Ah, here's the one at my gym. Except, the one at my gym is black, not red. It is about 10' long, I would guess. In this photo, you can see the little signs at each station explaining and diagramming what to do.
Thanks for the pictures. I will look around; I really have not made good tour of what they offer, even after being there almost 6 mos.

Ha
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:35 PM   #12
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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 ).

Thanks.
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:00 PM   #13
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I do lots of back stretching, in various forms (yoga, pilates and by myself lying on the floor).

I used to have serious back problems but am much improved this last 15 years.
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:11 PM   #14
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I worked part time for several pain physicians and they swear by stretching . Here are some exercises .
Exercise and Back Pain . I do do stretching at the gym but without a machine but with an instructor and I really think it helps .
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:43 PM   #15
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I had chronic back pain for a while. Finally went to doc, got some x-rays and they said there was nothing out of place with the spinal cord or discs. He prescribed some stretches and suggested core exercise (I did push ups and sit ups). After a few weeks of starting slow and painfully, it got better. Maybe a few months of this "treatment" cured me. Occasionally I'll get back pain if I haven't stretched or worked out in a while. A little stretching will usually help. Even walking a couple miles will loosen and strengthen the back muscles.
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Old 06-02-2011, 06:10 PM   #16
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I buy into the approach linked to below, and it works for me:

Connecting the Joints – Understanding Alternating

Basically it says some joints need to be mobile, others stable. Mix it up, and pain results.
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Old 06-02-2011, 08:44 PM   #17
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Have you seen a physical therapist? They are trained to work with back strains. Maybe a few visits will help you set up a home exercise program tailored to your particular symptoms.

DH has had three back surgeries after a fall on the ice and he swims faithfully three times a week and swears by it. There is little he can't do except extreme stuff.

but you are an individual with specific problems and medical history so a program tailored to you by a professional is worth a try.
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Old 06-02-2011, 08:58 PM   #18
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I have been doing a lot of stretching the last 8 months after working out. My joints definitely feel better after my stretching, especially after stretching out the quads, calves, lower back and hip flexors. I feel 15 years younger after doing them, especially my knees. The trouble is, I am so naturally stiff, each day after I have got out of bed, I feel like I've never have stretched before. I definitely will continue, though.
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:36 PM   #19
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I swam a lot in high school and college and was always very limber. Could touch toes easily but over the years I have worked on muscle mass in my core and now I need to work out the kinks for a few minutes to touch my toes.

I have a 15 minute stretch routine just after my very warm shower in the mornings and it seems to work well enough.
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:41 PM   #20
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I had frequent back problems so finally went to a physical therapist. he gave me a series of stretching exercises to do; they have made a tremendous improvement.
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