The bad news - millions of people experience and are slowed down by lower body pain and stiffness. The good news - they can loosen up some of those tight spots with the right exercises. We have a few that are proven to help and you don’t need to be naturally flexible or athletic to get started.
When our back, knee or hip is giving us trouble we tend to move less, because of the pain it causes. This seems to make sense; if it hurts don't do it, right? What many people don't realize is that back, knee and hip pain often occur or worsen due to inactivity. So we experience discomfort or pain, then we become less active, then that causes more stiffness and pain. Avoiding this vicious cycle is key...
You don’t have to be able to twist yourself into a pretzel for yoga to be a great therapeutic tool. Yoga stretches and strengthens the body, increasing your natural back support, which can help alleviate overall pain and stiffness. Talk to a doctor if you have a condition any of these moves could exacerbate. Begin each pose for about 30 seconds and add more time gradually, at your own pace and comfort level.
On a comfortable surface, move to your hands and knees, each about shoulder-width apart. If you can’t rest on your knees, you can do this from a seated position. Breathing out, arch your back up and out, tucking your chin toward your chest (cat pose). Hold for a moment. As you breathe in, arch your back inward, tilting your head forward (cow pose). Move between the two poses as you inhale and exhale, doing about 10 reps.
Straighten your legs and balance your body weight between the palms of your hands and the balls of your feet (plank pose). Keep your elbows straight, arms shoulder-width apart. Try to keep from bending or sinking your spine, using those lower back muscles to keep your body straight.
Finally, lower your body to the floor, resting your legs straight behind you. Prop yourself onto your elbows, stretching with the natural curve of your spine (upward-facing dog pose). As you become more limber, you’ll want to extend the stretch, resting on the palms of your hands instead of your elbows.
Whether you’re sitting or standing too long during the day, your knees can wind up suffering for it. Movement is crucial to reducing stiffness, so try doing exercises that move and strengthen the knees 4 or 5 days each week.
Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair. Make sure your body is erect, your arms are at your sides and your feet are flat on the floor. Straighten one knee, holding the leg out straight with your toes pointed upward, and raise your leg as high as you can. Hold for a few seconds. Do 8 reps for each leg.
Stand upright, holding your hands in front of you, and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower yourself as though moving to sit in a chair, careful to keep your knees in line with your feet and your body weight on your heels. Hold for about 5 seconds and rise back to a standing position. Do 10 reps. Remember when it comes to yoga, increasing the amount of time you hold the pose is more productive than increasing the number of reps.
Achy hips often benefit from regular exercise, which can help build muscle strength and range of motion. Try to do these 4 or 5 days each week.
Start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat against the floor, shoulder-width apart. Rest your arms at your sides. Slowly raise your lower end, straightening your back, using your hips and lower back muscles to hold the position for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat 6-8 times.
Move to your side, bending both knees at a 45-degree angle. Keep your feet together while you spread your knees apart, giving your hip a good stretch. Repeat on the other side.
Move to a seated position on the floor, pulling the soles of your feet together and drawing your knees out to the sides. Relax your muscles and allow your legs to sink toward the floor. If you’re able, lean your body forward and gently stretch.
Pain can make you want to avoid moving altogether, but regular exercise is often just what you need to reduce your aches in the long run. If you have specific conditions or chronic pain it might be best to discuss certain exercise regimens with your doctor first. If you get the greeen light then give these moves a shot and see how much you can reduce your pain. You might be surprised by the difference just a few minutes a day can make.
~ Here’s to Your Health and Wellness