A Maple Grove Chiropractor’s 4-Week Plan for More Flexibility & Less Pain
Flexibility routine. Netflix recently added more than 100 Nike Training Club videos for exercising and stretching at home. YouTube has 1,000s of guided workouts. But if you’re looking for quality over quantity and suggestions for healthy outdoor activities in Maple Grove’s gorgeous parks and trails, this four-week guide is your best bet.
Below you’ll find 15 low-impact movements for people of all ages and body types. Whether you’re a 9-5er struggling with tech neck or a retiree trying to stay limber, this list will provide a ton of valuable references on how to get more flexible.
What’s Included in the Flexibility Routine?
The plan includes 3-4 stretches, exercises, or activities per week that are designed to target the muscles and joints that are most commonly associated with back pain and limited mobility. It’s a progressive plan that builds on the exercises from the previous weeks. That means it’s crucial to start with Week 1 and work your way up from there.
Please note: Although this plan was created and reviewed by a licensed and board-certified physician (Dr. Brent Tieri), you should always be careful when stretching and exercising at home. Schedule a consultation with a chiropractor before attempting any movements or activities without supervision.
This goes doubly so if you have a specific condition or injury. A Maple Grove chiropractor like those at Total Spine Health and Injury Center can help you to modify or adapt any exercises that are too difficult for your situation.
How Long Does it Take to Become More Flexible?
It depends on several factors, such as your baseline flexibility, which stretches you're doing, how often you do them, and your overall health. However, most people will notice improvements within 3-4 weeks of consistent stretching or exercise.
Keep in mind that flexibility is not a binary goal. It's not like your options are Totally Inflexible or Yogi Master. You can improve your flexibility in specific areas while other areas may still need significant work.
This guide introduces some of the most basic stretches for improving mobility. If you struggle with movements that could be considered "easy," consider seeing a chiropractor to create an individualized plan. With all that out of the way, let's jump in.
Week 1: Easing In
You're probably excited to get started. You have a plan, and you're feeling confident. That's great! Regardless of your physical fitness, however, it's always a good idea to ease into a new flexibility routine. This week, try to carve out 10-20 minutes on at least three days for the following:
- Cat-cow stretch: Begin on your hands and knees with wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale slowly, and push your belly toward the floor while lifting your head and tailbone up towards the ceiling. Next, exhale and round your spine towards the ceiling while tucking your chin to your chest. Repeat 10 times.
- Child's pose: Go back to being on your hands and knees. Then sit back on your heels, stretching your arms in front of you and keeping your palms on the floor. Keep your head down and your back rounded. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Hamstring stretch: Sit on the floor with one leg straight in front of you, and the other leg bent with the foot tucked next to the thigh. Slowly and gently reach forward with both hands as far as you can. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other leg.
Suggested outdoor activity: Pull that dusty old bike out of the shed and go for a leisurely 20-minute bike ride at Maple Grove Forest Preservation Area B. Make sure to adjust your seat so that your knees are only slightly bent when the pedal is closest to the ground. Your handlebars should be about level with the height of your seat, allowing you to keep your back straight while riding.
Week 2: Warming Up
This is the time when habits begin to slip. Push through to ensure you build on last week's improvements and continue improving your flexibility. If last week went well, consider bumping yourself up to four days if your schedule allows:
- Supine spinal twist: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Drop both knees to one side of your body, keeping the shoulder on your opposite side, touching the floor. Stay in that position for 30 seconds before transitioning to the other side.
- Pelvic tilt: Return to laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Flatten your lower back against the ground by tilting your pelvis. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times.
- Standing Plank: Stand arm's length away from a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your palms flat against the wall at eye level and slowly bend your elbows until they (and your entire forearm) rest against the wall. Hold for 15-30 seconds. If this is too easy, do planks from a push-up position. Your body should be a flat, straight line from your upper back down to your heels. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
Visiting friends or family within two miles of your home? Try walking to see them instead of driving, weather permitting. Even accomplished athletes enjoy several benefits from regular walks.
Week 3: Maintaining Motivation
Has exercising and stretching always felt like a chore? Stick with them. Around weeks three and four are when most people start to actually enjoy it. As long as you're consistent and work hard, you'll find that you're significantly happier and more energetic on days when you are active:
- Seated spinal twist: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Gently twist your torso to one side, supporting yourself with your opposite hand on the floor behind you. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Shoulder blade squeeze: Sit or stand up straight. From there, stick your chest out and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Press and hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
- Seated forward bend: Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight out in front of you. Slowly bend forward, reaching towards your toes. Hold for 30 seconds.
Suggested outdoor activity: Visit the Maple Grove swimming pool for lap swim or water aerobics. Aquatic exercises are some of the best low-impact movements you can do to improve flexibility.
Week 4: Mastering Movements
You've made some impressive progress already. Before starting this week, think about how you feel now compared to several weeks ago. Do you feel stronger? More limber? That should allow you to stretch yourself with the most difficult moves of this program:
- Lunges: With your hands resting on your hips or stretched out beside you, take a big step forward with one foot, keeping your upper body straight. Slowly lower yourself until your thigh is parallel to the floor if you can. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times, then switch legs.
- Side shuffle: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Then take small, quick steps to one side for 5 seconds. Switch to the other side and repeat 5 times on each side.
- Lumbar extension: Lie face down on the floor, with your hands behind your head. Carefully try to lift your chest and head off the floor, keeping your pelvis on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Try to repeat 10 times. If this movement is too hard, lie on your back and bring one knee to your chest, holding it there with interlocked hands for 30 seconds. Repeat on your other side.
You've finished a whole month – give yourself a pat on the back! There's no magic routine to become more flexible. But hopefully, this one helped you make significant improvements. If you start to plateau and your routine feels too easy, check out one of the dozens of yoga studios in Maple Grove. There are classes for all ability levels.
For those that are really serious about overall health and mobility, it's essential to not only focus on exercises but also to address underlying issues that may be causing your pain. The team at Total Spine Health & Injury Center can diagnose and treat problems that are causing or contributing to your back pain. Together, we can create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and helps you to achieve optimal health and mobility without surgery or pharmaceuticals. Schedule an appointment today!