Do you have upper back pain, lower back pain, or a feeling of numbness in your hips? Do your knees feel strained or your shoulders sore? Do you have poor posture or seem to suffer from frequent bodily injuries? It might be possible that your spine is misaligned.
Here’s why spine health is extremely important: Everyone has a spinal column running midway through their backs that holds the spinal cord. The spinal cord can be likened to a superhighway comprised of nerves that connect the brain to every tissue in the body.
If you are looking to improve your flexibility, strength and spine health, you might consider following these steps on how perform a spine alignment at home. This tutorial will work four main sections of your body – your neck, arms, feet, ankles and knees, and finally your spine directly, helping your body to transition into a healthier, more properly aligned state.
Here’s what you will need to follow this tutorial:
- Loose comfortable clothing.
- Supportive shoes that have half an inch of a heel.
There isn’t much you need to have in order to follow the tutorial, all of these exercises utilize bodily tension to align your spine at home, but there are some things you might want to acquire to maintain a healthy spine after you have finished your exercises.
Here’s what you will need to maintain a healthy spine:
- A firm supportive mattress to support your spine as you sleep.
- An adjustable computer chair that offers support for the lumbar for office work.
- Do you sleep on your side? Place a pillow to rest between your legs. Do you sleep on your back? Place the pillow under your bottom if you sleep on your back.
- A general awareness of your posture and a willingness to improve it when you realize you are slumping.
With that being said, let’s jump right in on the first section of the spine alignment exercises, the neck.
#1. The Neck Flex
1. Lie down on a bed or couch. Lie so you are comfortable on your back without a pillow under your neck.
2. Press your feet together but do not cross them and point them straight down as far as you can while feeling comfortable.
3. Your arms should be at your sides or stretched outwards to the sides.
4. As you look at the ceiling, move your head one to two inches to the left.
5. Slowly twist your neck and head to the right as far as you can comfortably go. Be sure not to move the left shoulder at all.
6. Twist your head back to the center and rest for one minute.
7. Repeat the exercise on the other side.
Pro Tip: When you are twisting your neck to the right, it helps to look all the way right with your eyes and let your head follow them. When twisting to the left, look all the way left with your eyes and let your head follow that.
Neck Pain Stretches & Exercises
#2. In the Air
1. Lift each arm in to the air above your head while locking hands.
2. Pull both arms to the right as far as they will comfortably stretch
3. Return to center.
4. Pull both arms to the left as far as they will comfortably stretch
#3. Behind Head
1. Move both arms behind your head and join your hands together
2. Move both arms to the right as far as your body will permit
3. Return to center, then stretch both arms locked together to the left as far as the body will allow
4. While you are doing this, keep your neck centered
Pro Tip: If you hear a pop when you are doing these stretches, do not be concerned, this is just a release of tension, a good thing.
Feet and Legs
#4. “Toes Down”
1. Lie on your bed or couch on your back.
2. Grab your left foot, pushing your toes downwards firmly until you feel a stretch.
3. Return to lying position, then grab your right foot, pushing your toes downwards in the same way.
#5. “The Foot Fold”
1. Lie on your bed or couch on your back.
2. Grab one foot, with a hand on the outside and a hand on the inside.
3. Try to “fold up” the foot. This is hard to describe yet easy to do in practice.
4. Return to lying down, then grab the other foot and repeat.
#6. “The Ankle Twister”
1. Again, lie on your back on a bed or couch.
2. Grab one ankle with two hands.
3. Twist the ankle to the right, then twist the ankle to the left.
4. Return to original position then repeat on the other ankle.
#7. “Knee Pulling”
1. Lie on your back on your bed or couch
2. Extend both legs straight downward, pressing them together
3. Bend your left knee and move it outward, to your side.
4. Grab your left ankle with both hands. At this point both your hands and ankles should be over your belly.
5. Make sure that the left leg and knee feel totally relaxed, then push and pull on them just a little.
6. Give a quick pull on the ankle directly toward your head.
7. Return to original position, then repeat with the other leg.
Pro Tip – The ankle and knee exercise are helpful with pain, and the toe exercises relieve tension in the meridians and channel that flow through the toes.
#8. The Spinal Twist
2. Pull in your left knee towards your chest, guiding your knee over to the opposite side of your body with your right hand.
3. Pull over the left arm your side, keeping your left shoulder planted on to the ground.
4. Twist your neck slowly, facing the arm that is extended.
5. Hold this pose for 5 counts then gently release.
6. Repeat with other side.
#9. Flex and Extend
1. Start again, on your knees and hands, wrists pressed on the ground right underneath the shoulders
2. Inhale, lift your sternum, tailbone and head while lowering your middle and lower back. You are now in what yoga calls “the cow pose.”
3. Exhale, tucking the chin into the chest.
4. Push the tailbone down, rounding the spine. You are now in “cat pose.”
5. Continue to repeat this transition from cow pose to cat pose until your spine feels realigned.
How to Do a Cat Cow Pose for Energy:
#10. Opposite Directions
1. Start on your hands and knees, palms pushing down against the floor, placed right under your shoulders.
2. As you extend your left arm, inhale and pull almost as if you are grabbing for an imaginary hand reaching out to you.
3. Keep your core strong and extend the right leg back.
4. Toes pointed and right foot flexed, hold to complete the exercise.
5. Hold this position for five breaths, then return to all fours.
6. Switch sides, so that you are reaching out with your right arm now.
#11. Spinal Twist While Seated
1. Sit on the floor, both legs fully extended.
2. Bend the left knee, moving the left foot outside of the right thigh then placing it on the ground.
3. Gently wrap the right arm around your left knee placing the left hand down so it rests behind the hips.
4. Inhale, stretching the spine and turn, looking over the shoulder.
5. Continue to do this, lengthening as you inhale and twisting deeper on exhales until your spine feels aligned.
Now that you have performed all of the exercises, you must feel much more flexible, healthy, and aligned. Body alignment is a critical aspect of our health, and doing a preventative program like this at home can wind up saving you time and money on more severe issues that might arise if you didn’t take the time to correct it.
On top of preventing further damage, many of these stretches can relieve pain and send blood flowing to where your body needs it the most.
Did you enjoy doing these exercises? Do you feel more aligned after you have completed the program? Please let me know what you think, and if you think this can help someone close to you, feel free to pass this along