Stretching The Spine: Routines And Health Benefits

This article gives a description of the role the spine plays in our body and why it is beneficial to stretch it.

There are many health benefits to stretching the spine. In fact, various cultures have been aware of this fact for thousands of years. The Hindus developed yoga, a systematic series of poses combined with deep breathing, which invigorates the body and mind, thousands of years ago. In the early 1900's, Joseph Pilates, who studied yoga, Zen, and other ancient stretching principles, developed his own stretching methods. Pilates, as his technique came to be known as, is used in the world of dance, gymnastics, and by acrobatic circus performers. In fact, it has even become somewhat of a household name as men and women, looking to improve their health and physique practice it.

The spine serves many important functions in the human body. It protects our spinal cord, and serves as the root of our nervous system. It also supports our upper body and enables us to stand up, bend, and twist. The backbone is the core of the body.

Keeping this important part of our body healthy helps us to keep entire other aspects of our lives strong""including the physical, as well as mental facets. Some of the benefits of stretching are that it offers more mobility, which improves athletic ability. Furthermore, it helps to eliminate back pain by improving posture. Stretching also encourages optimum mental well-being by stimulating the nervous system and invigorating internal organs. Overall, a healthy body means a healthy mind. Finally, studies show that it can relieve menstrual pain and constipation. Of course, these are just a few of the benefits of stretching the spine. The advantages are numerous.

There are also many ways to stretch the spine and fortunately, it is not necessary to be a yoga or Pilate's expert in order to master them. A few easy positions to learn are the Seated Forward Bend, the Cobra, and the Child's Pose.

The Seated Forward Bend helps to relieve tension in the back neck and shoulders and can be done just about anywhere and any time. It can be done by following these stop-by-step instructions.

1. Find a sturdy seat and scoot your bottom so that it is sitting right on the edge of it.

2. Separate your legs to slightly more than a hips width apart.

3. Bend forward from your hips while being careful to keep your back straight.

4. Drop your head and completely relax your neck and shoulders. Let your arms dangle loosely.

5. Bring your arms up and hold onto your elbows. Lean into the stretch even more.

6. Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale out. Repeat.

7. Sit up slowly. Take one more deep breath and exhale.

The Cobra, also known as the Bhujanga Asana, strengthens the spine, offers flexibility, and can be done by following these steps.

1. Lie down on your stomach. Hold your legs together as though they are stuck together with superglue. Place the palms of your hands underneath your shoulders with your forehead resting on the floor.

2. Inhale. Bring your head up so that you are looking straight ahead. Take a couple deep breaths. Use your back muscles to lift your chest as high as possible, take a couple deep breaths. Then lower your body back down again.

3. Inhale again. Come up while using your hands to push the trunk of your body up until you are bending from the middle of your spine. Breathe normally.

4. Walk hands in toward the body, straighten your arms, and lift your pelvis. Separate your legs and bend your knees so that you are up on your hands and knees. Drop your head down and reach it to your feet. Breathe normally and come back down on your belly again.

The Child's Pose is relatively easy to master and offers such benefits as increasing circulation to the lower back and abdominal area, and helps to relieve lower back pain, as well. It can be done as follows.

1. Get down on your hands and knees.

2. Take a deep breath and bend back so that your bottom is resting on your heels.

3. Rest your forehead on the floor.

4. Place your arms back by your side with palms facing upward.

5. Relax your body and take several breaths in.

6. Hold the position for a few minutes while breathing gently.

All three of these positions offer some of the benefits of stretching the spine. When done on a regular basis these poses can help mild back discomfort and improve other areas of physical and mental well-being. Once you have mastered them, you can enjoy the wonderful effects of stretching all of the time.

© High Speed Ventures 2011