Playing sports you enjoy is a great idea as part of your path to fitness, as long as you do what's necessary to prevent injury or prevent re-aggravation of past conditions (back problems, knee problems, or others). You may be asking – what can you do to prevent injuries or alleviate problems? Warm up and stretch before playing any sports. Afterwards, stretch again. This will take only 10 minutes before playing and 5 minutes after playing. It is important you do this every time you play any sports. It's really simple, but unfortunately, many neglect the simple.
That is merely a total of 15 minutes, and they are well worth spending in preventing or alleviating pains and problems you may have if you don’t do this. Any injuries and pains will prevent you from exercising and which may actually lead to more problems such as gaining unhealthy weight which in turn may trigger or re-aggravate back problems and joint problems, as well as increase your chances of other health problems. You don’t want to enter such a negative spiral. (I’ve written about such a case, the case of Jane, in my previous blog at http://spirfit.blogspot.com/2009/01/bad-posture-leads-to-weight-gain.html)
The following is a simple warm-up and stretch for those with a higher susceptibility to lower back problems:
1. Warm up for 5 minutes, walk on a treadmill. (Do not run.)
If you don't have access to a treadmill, just take a walk outside (in a safe area). You may also get on the stationary bike or elliptical if you feel more comfortable with them.
2. Stretch for 5 minutes
Standing Quad Stretch
i. Stand in front of a wall on your left leg while drawing in your abs (throughout the whole stretch).
ii. Bend your right leg bringing your right heel toward your butt (as much as you comfortably can) and hold for a count of 30. (Balance on your own if you can, but use the wall for balance if you need to.)
iii. Do the same for your other leg.
i. Lie on the floor facing upward.
ii.Bend your right leg at a 90 degree angle while straightening your left leg.
iii. Grab the back of your left leg and pull it toward your chest
iv. Hold for a count of 30.
i. Sit on the floor with left leg straight, and the right leg bent and crossed over the left.
ii. Draw abs in.
iii. Slowly turn your upper body to the right while pulling your right leg with your left arm.
iv. Count to 30.
v. Switch sides and repeat.
Note: These three stretches are the minimum that you must do (before and after playing) to prevent or alleviate lower back problems. However, you should add other stretches if you have the time.
3. Play your sport
Be mindful of engaging or your abdominals throughout playing, to prevent stress on your lower back.
4. Stretch for 5 minutes, after playing.
Repeat the same three stretches (#2) above.
Note: Even if you don't play sports, doing this 15 minutes of warm-up and stretch daily can prevent lower back pains. Keep in mind also that nothing works overnight. It must be done habitually and consistently before you can reap any benefits. There are actually more things that can be done for lower back problems, but I have to keep it simple here so that you can do it on your own. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com for a free session (for new clients) about what you can do for back pains, using exercises and stretches.
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