Newsletter no. 14 – Monday 6 September, 2021

This is the web-based version of Stretch Therapy Newsletter no. 14

Spinal flexion

For many people, one of the problems of back bending is cramping in the lumbar or middle spine. The reason is that, these days, those muscles are holding just a bit too much tension – so as you try to bend the spine backwards, those muscles can cramp easily. The solution, paradoxically perhaps, is to stretch all of the spinal muscles first before trying your back bending, and this lowers the resting muscle tonus (tension). If your spinal muscles have a tendency to cramp, then begin your backward bending session with one or more of these exercises, and after your back bending session, calm everything down by choosing the one that feels best in the body.

And in the era of COVID-19, with everyone spending additional time on the computer and devices, these muscles need stretching more than ever – because if you don't discharge the tension that each day creates, in time what can just be an annoying little ache or pain can develop into something more serious.

And the best reason we have left to last: it simply feels absolutely sensational to stretch these muscles, because they are the first places we accumulate tension in on a daily basis. Each of these exercises has a different focus point in the body (and depending on how much neck flexion you add to any of these movements, that point can be moved up or down the spine). Altogether, these will stretch all the muscles on the back side of the body, from the bottom of your skull down to your sacrum.


Floor upper and middle back stretch

This is Stretch Therapy's preferred middle and upper back stretch these days. This movement is the antidote to too much computer work (or too much sitting, in general). Could this be you? 🙂

floor middle and upper back 1400x800

Standing lower back stretch

Because of the proportion of the body's muscles involved, the emphasis in this exercise is on the posterior superficial fascial layer – you may feel the main effects anywhere from the neck, middle back, lower back, hamstrings and even calves. The secret power of this movement is to use the quadriceps to bring on the stretch – this activates the agonist-antagonist reflex, so the net effect is that the body is stretching itself. This is the fastest way to remap what the brain believes is the maximum desirable length of all the tissues involved.

standing lower back 1400x800

“Three Amigos” upper back stretch

Named in homage to the the movie of the same name, this little exercise is absolutely fantastic for the neck, middle, and upper back, and is fast and easy to do after any bends that tend to tighten these areas. It is a perfect antidote to hours spent at the computer!

three amigos 1400x800

A note from a student

I’m working through the lessons in the Starter Course doing one a day or every couple of days. I’ve done some years of yoga which I love for many reasons but have lapsed for some time. I have always walked, for the beauty of nature and the rhythm of the step and I usually do a little work on the core to keep strong. When I began lesson 3 I knew how stiff I had become! So I’m going back to the start before moving on.

In your lessons I’ve found something special. I'm enjoying the stretch therapy; it's perfect for me. Many thanks

Annette F., Australia