Tips on how to keep your spine flexible

The spine is the body's lifeline, so whether you work hard in a manual job or sit at a computer all day, it pays to keep it flexible.

Tips on how to keep your spine flexible

1. Exercise suggestions

  • Try spinal rolls and twists, which are excellent for spinal flexibility. Or attend a yoga class to learn poses such as the 'bridge' and the 'cobra'.
  • Lie down on the floor, with a folded towel supporting the back of your neck. Stretch your arms at shoulder level, palms upwards. Relax in this position for 10 to 15 minutes. It will release muscular tension, relieve joint pressure and allow your spine's shock absorbers to plump up with fluid.
  • Sit on a chair with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly lean forwards and down, placing your hands beside the outsides of your feet. Let your head hang down loosely between your knees, but don't put any strain on your neck muscles. Hold the position for 30 seconds and then very slowly return to a normal sitting position.

2. Spinal rolls

Try to do these spinal roll exercises two or three times a day. If your back is very tight and lacks flexibility, at first you may feel as though you are rolling on square wheels! But do persevere because as your body warms up, you'll feel your spine gradually loosen as the vertebrae in your neck and spine are massaged by the action, and the rolls will become smoother.

  • Sit on the floor. The surface should be well-padded.
  • Draw your knees up to your chest and then bend your head towards them. Link your hands behind your knees.
  • Keeping your spine rounded, rock slightly forwards, then roll backwards onto the floor, but avoid going so far back that your neck is in contact with the ground.
  • Without stopping, roll up again into the sitting position.
  • Perform four to six continuous rolls to start with.
  • Rest.
  • Repeat the whole procedure about three or four times.
  • Build up to 12 rolls per set.

3. Office exercise

If you sit at a desk or computer for long periods, this is a good exercise for avoiding stiffness. If possible, do it every few hours.

  • Stand up, with your feet together, and raise both arms straight above your head, stretching your whole body upwards.
  • Lower your arms.
  • Repeat the first step.
  • Now, position your feet so that they are hip-distance apart and fold your arms on top of your head, clasping your elbows with opposite hands as you do so.
  • Slowly bend forwards and, with your arms still clasped, stretch forwards and down from your tailbone. Try to touch the floor with your forearms if you can, but don't push yourself.
  • Remain in this position for several seconds. You'll feel your spine stretching as you do so. Then slowly unroll yourself.

Tip: Stretching is a simple, painless way of keeping the muscles supple and building flexibility and endurance. Stretching regularly can help keep your physical movements graceful and supple well into mature age.

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