Stretching for All

Stretches to Help Lower Back Pain

4 Stretches to Help Lower Back Pain


When experiencing lower back pain, the natural remedy that most people opt for is rest. Well, even though you may not feel like moving a sore or painful back, mobilizing the lower back is actually beneficial. Stretching exercises for the lower back help to alleviate pain by releasing tension in tight muscles. Some stretches will also strengthen the lower back and other supporting muscles. With a stronger back, you will be less likely to experience pain. With that in mind, here are 4 stretches to help lower back pain.

#1: Cobra Stretch

The cobra stretch helps stretch tight abdominal muscles and decreases stiffness in the lower back. It will reduce pain that originates from the spinal column due to poor posture or ailments like osteoporosis and slipped discs.

  • Start by lying down on a mat face first.
  • Use the elbows to prop yourself up with palms facing down and forearms parallel to the floor.
  • Arch your back up by pushing down on your hands. Raise yourself as far as you feel comfortable. Avoid bending the neck backward by keeping your head aligned with the spine.
  • Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds while taking deep breaths.
  • Release the pose by lowering your stomach toward the floor. Aim for 8-10 reps while taking a brief pause in between.


#2: Cat-Cow Stretch

The Cat-Cow Pose is a fantastic stretching exercise for strengthening and releasing tension in the spine. This stretch extends into your mid and upper back as well. Here is how to perform the cat-cow stretch.

  • Get down on all fours. Spread knees about shoulder width apart and keep both palms planted flat on the floor. Look straight ahead and do not arch your spine. This will be your starting position.
  • Arch your back downwards by lifting the chin to tilt the head back, pushing the navel toward the ground and raising your tailbone.
  • Take five deep breaths and return to the starting position.
  • For the next stretch, arch your back upward by lifting the spine toward the ceiling, tucking in your chin and lowering the tail bone.
  • Take five deep breaths while maintaining the rounded back then get back into the neutral position. Aim for 10 repetitions alternating the arch on your back.

#3: Two-Knee Spinal Twist

This yoga pose encourages mobility throughout the spine and entire back. When done right, the two-knee spinal twist will alleviate pain and stiffness in the lower back, spine and hips.

  • Begin by lying flat on your back. Stretch both arms at shoulder level to form a T-shape with the trunk and bring the knees up while keeping feet flat on the floor.
  • Exhale slowly and lower your knees to the ground on the right side. Keep both shoulders pressing down firmly and hold this position for 1-2 minutes.
  • Repeat the stretch but this time, twisting the knees to the left side.

#4: Supine Hamstring Stretch

When the hamstrings are not functioning properly, your lower back takes the brunt of supporting the body’s weight. To prevent worsening lower back pain, ensure that your hamstrings are flexible and devoid of tension. Perform supine hamstring stretches to achieve this goal.

  • Lie down on your back with both feet stretched out and toes point up.
  • Bend your left leg towards the chest and wrap a towel or strap around the heel. Holding the strap or towel with both hands, straighten the left leg toward the ceiling.
  • Hold the stretch for 1-2 minutes then switch to stretch the right hamstring.

Depending on the cause and intensity of back pain, some exercises might not be safe and will only cause more harm. Therefore, it is prudent to consult your healthcare provider before attempting any stretching exercise for lower back pain, especially if you have a spinal condition or injury.

Weight Loss Tips

Tips For Maintaining a Healthy Weight Over 50

Maintaining a Healthy Weight Over 50


weight loss over 50
weight loss over 50

One of the most important aspects of fat loss is maintaining a healthy weight. Even after the initial weight loss, it is important to continue to lose weight so that your body can burn off all of the extra calories and fat you have accumulated. However, if you want to lose weight quickly and effectively, then you should try to maintain a healthy weight rather than attempting to lose weight excessively. To do this, there are a few things you should remember.

To achieve a healthy weight, it is important to consume a good amount of calories each day. This includes eating a lot of lean meats, whole grains, nuts and vegetables. While it may seem a little odd at first, it actually pays off in the long run. Eating a lot of protein helps your body use up the calories you eat as well as burning off excess fat and storing it for later use.

When trying to lose weight over 50, it may be wise to include plenty of low-calorie foods. The key is to include more than enough calories to meet your body’s needs. If you want to lose weight, you have to keep your body in the best possible shape to lose the weight. By eating a lot of low calorie foods and by eating small meals throughout the day, you will be able to accomplish this goal.

There are many low calorie foods that you can eat. Most people who are overweight tend to overeat when they reach a certain point in their lives. If you want to lose weight, then you must learn to control your appetite. You can do this by eating smaller portions and having smaller portions. Eating less food at each meal will keep you from feeling full for a longer period of time.

The next thing you need to focus on is maintaining a healthy diet. This includes taking in a high amount of fiber to help make sure you are getting the nutrients and vitamins you need in order to stay healthy. Many people think that cutting out carbs is going to help them lose weight, but it doesn’t. In fact, you may end up gaining more weight.

If you want to achieve a healthy weight over 50, you need to take care of your body so that it can function properly. It is important to know what to eat and how much to eat each day. Eating healthy and exercising regularly will help you to keep your body functioning at its optimal level so that it can burn off fat and keep you healthy and fit.

Stretching for All Weight Loss Tips

Key Stretches for Walkers

4 Key Stretches for Walkers


Stretching for Walkers

Walking may be a simple workout but it is effective enough at aiding weight loss or even maintaining overall fitness. To make the most out of walking, it is imperative that you add stretching into your fitness regimen. Dynamic stretches are employed before walking to prepare the body for quick movements. Static stretches on the other hand are more useful after a walk in order to reduce muscle tightness. To help you combine these two methods of stretching into your walking routine, here are 4 key stretches for walkers.

Dynamic Stretches for Walkers

Stretching cold muscles may result in injury. For that reason, it is always recommended to do a quick warm-up (5-10 minutes of jogging in place will do the trick) before moving on to dynamic stretches. Once the muscles are warm, try the following stretches before going for your walk.


1. Arm Swings

When walking, the shoulders exercise continuously as the arms swing back and forth naturally. To make sure that muscles in this part of the body are fully prepared for a walk, try doing vertical arm swings.

  • Stand feet placed about shoulder width apart with both arms at your sides.
  • While keeping them stretched out, raise both arms up and behind the head as far as you can. Swing the arms down and behind the back as far as you can to finish one rep. You can also swing the arms in alternating fashion such that when the right arm goes up, the left one goes down.
  • Aim for 10 reps and remember to keep the arms stretched out when swinging them.

2. Leg Swings

Leg swings can prepare the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves as well as inner and outer thigh muscles for a walk. This stretch requires good balance, but you can make it easier by standing adjacent to a wall and holding onto it for support.

  • Stand beside a wall resting your right hand on it for balance. 
  • Flexing your right foot, swing it forward and backward without letting it touch the ground or bend at the knee
  • You can also swing the leg side to side. For this motion, face the wall. Make sure also to place your hands on the wall at shoulder level.
  • For each variation, complete 10 leg swings with your right leg and then 10 reps with the left leg.


Static Stretches for Walkers

Static stretches are great after walking. Since these stretches require the body to be in a standstill position, this will help to bring down the heart rate. Some of the static stretches you may want to add to your walking cool down routine include:

3. Standing Hamstring Stretch

This is an effective exercise for stretching your hamstrings and lower back in order to protect against muscle tightness and strain.


  • To perform a hamstring stretch, stand with one foot in front of the other.
  • Bend the back knee and rest your weight on it.
  • Keep the knee straight for the front leg and point the toes up so that the front leg is resting on your heel.
  • Tilt your hips forward while keeping the chest up and back straight. Rest both hands on your thighs for support. Bend the back leg’s knee to make the stretch more intense. 
  • Hold this position for 10-30 seconds then change the stance to stretch the other hamstring.


4. Calf Stretch

With regular walking, your calves tighten over time. This can lead to shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, ankle pain, knee problems or cramps in the lower leg. However, performing a calf stretch can help guard against such injuries.

  • Stand on the ball of your foot on a curb, box, or one of the platforms leading up a flight of stairs. Your heel should be hanging over the edge.
  • Slightly bend the knee and allow your heel to drop below the step.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds then switch to the other calf.


Feel free to try other stretching routines other than those mentioned above. Remember to choose routines that stretch muscles used during walking in order to reap the most benefits.

Stretching for All

What is Static Stretching?

What is Static Stretching?

Static Stretching
Static Stretching

Static stretching is an exercise that involves extending muscles to its limit and then holding it at that position for some time. This exercise is done while the rest of the body is at rest. The duration of holding a given stretch depends on the age of the participant, preexisting conditions, the level of activeness, and pre-existing injuries. During the holding duration or immediately afterward, one experiences a mild discomfort in the muscles involved. When done after a workout, it cools the body and improves the flexibility of the muscles.

Examples of Static Stretching

  • Head bend
  • Shoulder and triceps stretch
  • Chest stretch
  • Biceps stretch
  • Trunk rotation
  • Hamstring stretch 
  • Upper back stretch
  • Quadriceps stretch
  • Side bends
  • Calf stretch
  • Groin stretch

Benefits of Static Stretching:

  • Static stretching improves your flexibility and this basically means that your range of motions around a given joint is improved. It enhances free and efficient movement.
  • Additionally, static stretching relaxes the body and mind of the participant. Taking deep and slow breaths while stretching reduces stress in some people. For many others, the release of muscle tension relaxes them.
  • Static stretching helps improves the balancing of the body. When some muscles have reduced flexibility, this causes muscular imbalances. Muscle pulls can also cause a change in the alignment of your body, and this can be prevented by simple stretching exercises.

When to Stretch 

Before static stretching, it is good to start with an aerobic activity like swimming or cycling for several minutes to warm the muscles. Afterward, a static stretch is encouraged for 15 to 45 seconds for two or three times. If you want to swim, be sure to static stretch your lats. Alternatively, if you want to do full-range squats, static stretch your calves. After finishing your training session, static stretch the muscles that you want to increase the range of motion.

Stretching workout is recommended for participants in any sport or exercise with tight hamstrings because they are more exposed to hamstring strains.

The static stretch should be done thrice on daily basis. For young people, 15 seconds hold is enough. For people under the age of forty, 30 seconds stretches are sufficient. For those over seventy years old, 60 seconds stretches are more beneficial than the 30 seconds one. 

Static stretches should be relaxing and not cause undue discomfort. A physical therapist should be consulted before starting the program in case of any pre-existing injuries.

Stretching for All

Can Stretching Prevent Injury?

Will Stretching Prevent Injury?

Nothing is so certain that doing it will absolutely guarantee prevention of an injury; stretching is no different. However, that is not to say that stretching is worthless; quite the contrary!

While stretching will not prevent an injury, doing it as part of a warm-up program does reduce the risk of an injury by promoting increased blood flow to the muscles, and an increase in range of motion and flexibility in the joints stretched. And that is the true value of stretching.


Pre-workout warm-up program

There are five basic types of stretching. In the warm-up phase, dynamic stretching is the best one to use prior to a workout. Start a warm-up program by doing a few minutes of aerobic activity using muscles you will be using during your workout. That warms up your core and increases your breathing rate. Don’t be surprised if you even sweat a little.

Now you are ready for some dynamic stretching. This type of stretching focuses on moving the muscles that you will use during your workout through their range of motion in a fluid movement. In other words, the muscles are not held in their fully stretched position for any length of time other than for 2 or 3 seconds.

Working them through their range of motion increases blood flow to the muscles and tendons, so that the shock of working out is reduced.

Post-workout cool-down program

After exercising, your heart, blood flow and breathing rate are still at a high level. Cooling down, helps all of them come down slowly to their pre-warm-up levels. Without a cool-down, some people may experience dizziness or even nausea after stopping their workout.

Start your cool-down by doing some gentle exercise for 3 to 5 minutes using the same muscles you worked during your workout. For example, if your workout was running, then do some jogging or even walking as a cool-down exercise.

Next do 5 to 10 minutes of static stretching of the muscles used by holding each of them in their extended position for 30 to 60 seconds each. Do not bounce them. Gently stretch and hold, then release.

During a workout, muscles suffer small micro tears and create waste like lactic acid. While circulating blood flow takes this waste out of the muscles while exercising, abruptly stopping creates a build-up with nowhere to go. This built-up causes swelling in the micro tears and the result is soreness in the muscles worked a day or two after, known as DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) or post exercise soreness.

By doing a cool-down exercise, some of that waste gets carried out of the muscle which in turn reduces micro tear swelling. Because the activity level is reduced, very little additional wastes or micro tears are being generated which reduces muscle soreness.

Stretching is not a preventative measure against injury, but it is an effective strategy to reduce the risk when associated with a warm-up and cool-down programs as part of an overall workout routine.

Senior Weght Loss Tips

3 Stretching Tips for Seniors

Three Stretching Tips for Seniors

When you become a senior, joint flexibility is one of the keys to living a healthy, active and independent lifestyle for as long as you can. While your joints may have stiffened over the last few years, it is never too late to start a stretching program to get back some of the flexibility lost. Without the intervention of a stretching program, muscles will keep getting shorter and continue to lose their elasticity. Frequent stretching can reduce back pain, improve posture and relieve pain caused by arthritis.

While there are several different types of stretching, the ones seniors should focus on are static and dynamic.

1) Static vs Dynamic

Static stretching is preferred for lasting muscle length and soft tissue flexibility. It places a reduced load on a muscle, but for a longer period of time. Usually the muscle is slowly extended to its fullest length and held there for 10 to 30 seconds.

Dynamic stretching increases range of motion by placing a greater load, but for a shorter period of time. The muscle is still stretched (but at a faster rate) to its fullest length and held there, but for a shorter amount of time, usually 2 to 5 seconds. It more replicates muscle movement when that muscle is in use.

However, because “muscle bouncing” is more of a danger with dynamic stretching, static is a safer choice as far as minimizing the risk of an injury in seniors. If a dynamic stretching program is used to increase joint flexibility and range of motion, only do it on muscles that have been warmed up prior to stretching.

While stretching is commonly used as part of both pre- and post-workout training programs in younger adults, stretching is the whole exercise program for many seniors.

2) How Often Should I Stretch?philly weight loss

After muscles are warmed, by doing a mild cardio exercise such as walking, stretch each major muscle group 3 to 5 times holding each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. To maintain flexibility, stretching should be performed 2 to 3 days per week. For maximum, flexibility stretch 4 to 5 days per week.

3) Sample Stretches

Lower Body

Hip Extension – Stand while holding onto the back of a chair for stability. Extend one leg backward in a sweeping motion keeping your knee straight. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

Ankle Circles – Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your right foot up by bending at the knee. Rotate your foot in a circle 20 times. Then change the direction of rotation and move in a circle 20 times again. Repeat with the other ankle.

Upper Body

Bent Over Rows – From the standing position, hold onto the back of a chair with one hand for support. With your other arm fully extended downward and holding a light weight in that hand, pull that arm up and back bending at the elbow until the upper arm is parallel to the floor. Repeat 10 times before switching arms.

Overhead Press – Seated in a chair with a light weight in each hand at chest level, ensure your arms are bent at the elbow. Forearms should be perpendicular to the floor. Push the weights straight up until arms are fully extended. Hold for a second or two before lowering the weights back down to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Weights can be a bottle of water, unopened soup can or light dumbbells as required. Increasing and maintaining flexibility makes everyday tasks easier along with being less painful.