May 4, 2012 § 1 Comment
One of the most important stretches for people with low back pain and/or sciatica is the stretch for the piriformis muscle. If you’re like most of my patients, you have never heard of the piriformis but it is a critical muscle and serves as a major transition between your back and your lower extremities. The piriformis starts in the low back at the sacrum (“tailbone”) and crosses diagonally down to attach on the hip. If it is tight, it will put tension on all the surrounding muscles. The good news is it’s not a hard stretch.
Below is a great video I found but the one thing it doesn’t talk about is duration and frequency. If you’re experiencing pain, numbness, tingling, and/or muscle tightness, you should first see a chiropractor for an exam. There are many problems that can create sciatic pain and pain in the low back. It is important to rule out more serious conditions before doing at home treatment. Once evaluated, ask your chiropractor what frequency he/she thinks is appropriate for you. In general, stretching is best done daily but if you’re like my average patient, that is a frequency you will not keep up. For wellness and the time deficient people out there, three times a week is the minimum you should stretch. For those experiencing an increased level of tightness but not a specific problem, make a point to do the stretch daily. When you stretch, stretch both sides even if one side doesn’t seem to be an issue as you want to keep the body balanced. Do each side three times and hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds.
Good luck and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
July 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
The beautiful waves of the Pacific Ocean and the blooms of summer flowers in the mountains make me want to get outside and exercise. Jogging at the beach, playing beach volleyball, hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains, and taking the dogs for a run in the foothills are just a few of the ways I love to get out and enjoy the summer in Los Angeles. It does lead me to be heavy on the aerobic exercise and while I do mix in some stretching, I rarely get weight lifting exercises in because I don’t want to be cooped up in the gym. Getting all three forms of exercise is crucial to your health so even though you may be outside more frequently in the summer sun, be sure to balance your work outs.
Aerobic exercise (jogging, walking, jumping rope, etc), lifting weights, and stretching are all very important because they all work your overall health differently. Stretching is perhaps the most easily connected visually to its benefit. Stretching helps to maintain the length of tendons and muscles. As we age, naturally the tendons get shorter and tighter. The more you stretch, the more you will preserve your flexibility as you age.
Aerobic exercise and lifting weights both affect the heart and the overall cardiovascular system but in much different ways. Both allow the heart to pump more blood through your body more efficiently and thus lowering your resting heart rate and blood pressure. The lower your resting heart rate, the less stress will be on the body. Aerobic exercise causes the actual size of the heart chambers to get bigger. This allows the heart to fill with more blood with each pump. Lifting weights increase the strength of the heart wall. This allows it to pump the increased volume with greater ease. Neglecting either one will not give you the health benefits most people seek when exercising.
So when you get out there and exercise, be sure to mix it up. And with most athletes and regular exercisers, injuries occur. Don’t hesitate to see your chiropractor so you don’t do any lasting damage.