Has your chiropractor ever asked, “Did you do your exercises?” How did you respond? If you’re like 96% of the general population, you probably scrambled, looking for excuses that your chiropractor would “buy.” Of course, he or she is not out to humiliate you or make you feel bad about not being the “perfect patient” who does exactly what they request. In fact, only about 4% of you will indeed continue your exercises after the pain stops reminding you to do them. So, what are some tricks we can play on ourselves so we actually do our exercises? Certainly, we know there must be a way. For example, we have successfully adopted brushing our teeth on a regular basis so we should be able to add exercise to our daily “habits.”
Previously, we discussed some simple “on-the-go” exercises you can do in as little as 30-60 seconds of time, if time is that tight. We talked about the importance of doing some stretches to interrupt the cycle of back stress and strain by taking a “mini-break” and stretch out from a chair. We hope you’ve tried these as they fit right into the picture of back pain prevention. This month, we’re going to give you another option… no, let’s call it a “must” so that you “just do it.” Maybe it’s the sound, smell, and pain associated with the dental drill that scares us into brushing our teeth; that makes that process a morning and evening habit. Well, let’s assume you’ve had back pain and at a time it was bad, you commented (if you’re a mother), “…this is worse than childbirth!” For the non-mothers out there, remember how you felt when you couldn’t move because the pain felt like a knife stabbing you in the back? We want you to remember those times when you were so worried about whether you would ever feel right again, and when you said, “…I WILL to do my exercises! I don’t ever want to go through this again!” If you can remember that, then your ability to become disciplined and regular about exercise will work.
So here’s what we want you to do: The FIRST thing you do in the morning, before your hectic day begins, move to the carpet floor of your bedroom or bathroom and go through the following:
- Abdominal crunches 15-20 reps – You can use any type of sit-up you’ve learned.
- Hamstring stretches – Bring your knee to your chest by grabbing behind your knee and then slowly straighten your knee until you “feel the burn” in the back of your thigh – hold for 5-10 seconds and do 5-10 reps…. enough to feel looser than when you started.
- Bridges – Bend your knees, feet flat on the floor, raise your butt off the floor – push your heels into the floor at the same time, and raise up until your thighs line up with your body. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 5-10 times.
- Side-ways sit-ups – Roll on your side and lift your upper body and legs towards the ceiling and repeat it 5-10 times.
- Push-ups: From your feet or your knees, depending on your arm strength, do 5-10 reps in slow motion to make it harder.
When you’ve finished with these (it takes about 5 minutes), then brush your teeth! Repeat this process before bed at night, just like you do when you brush your teeth. WHEN (not “if”) you do this, we “PROMISE” you will feel better, more alert (better than a cup of coffee), and your back will bother you less. Remember the promise you made to yourself when you last hurt badly? Try these and keep your promise!