Spinal Exercises for Rehabilitation and Flexibility

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Warning: These health tips are intended for the use of Maimonides’ patients under the supervision of the Doctor of Chiropractic. Before beginning any program of exercise or dietary recommendations always consult with your healthcare provider.


Neck rolls – Drop head gently toward chest. Slowly roll head around to the other side and forward again. If you cannot complete a full circle, go to the point of restriction/pain and slowly go back the other way until you reach that point on the other side. Repeat 5 times per side and perform 2-3 times/day.

Posterior Neck Muscle Stretch – Lace together fingers and place in lap. Drop head gently toward chest. Place laced together hands on back of head. Slowly try to look straight ahead of you while at the same time applying resistance with your hands. Use gentle resistance and stop if pain felt at any time. Hold for 5 seconds and then relax neck and stop applying resistance. Drop head further forward toward chest. Repeat 3 times and perform 2-3 times/day.

Side Neck Muscle Stretch – Tip head as far as comfortably possible to one side. Place one hand on your head opposite of the side you are leaning toward. Try to straighten head while applying gentle resistance to the straightening. NOTE: Make sure you are attempting to straighten out your head and not simply pushing tilted head up into your hand. Hold for 5 seconds and then relax head to the side, letting it drop further. Repeat 3 times and perform 2-3 times/day. Also repeat for other side of neck.

Shoulder Shrugs – Slowly shrug shoulders forward (do not go backward in this stretch) for 10 circles and perform 2-3 times/day.

Towel Stretch – Hold a bath towel at each end out in front of you so arms are straight. Slowly lift straightened arms over your head and behind your shoulders. Stop at any point where pain or limitation begins. Hold towel behind you for 3 seconds and then slowly bring back over head to the front. Repeat 3 times and perform 2 times/day.

Wall-pushups – Stand close enough to a wall that you can touch it with arms straight in front of you. Place hands and feet shoulder-width apart. Bend elbows out to the sides as you bring your nose closer to the wall. At end of stretch, gently squeeze shoulder blades together if you do not feel enough of a stretch. Repeat 10 times and perform 2-3 times/day.

Upper Back Stretch With Weights – Take a small weight (2-5 lbs. for most people) and bend over a chair or bench with one knee. Hold weight with opposite hand and let arm straighten toward floor. Slowly bring weight up toward your chest keeping arm close in to your body. Do not hold. Repeat 10-15 times and perform 2 sets at once 1 time/day. Also repeat with other side.

Knee to Chest – While lying face-up, simply bring one knee toward your chest. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 3 times, 1-2 times/day. Then repeat with other knee and then bring both knees to chest.

Superman Exercise – Lying face-down on floor, rest neck comfortably to one side (or prop forehead on a towel and look down at floor) and raise alternating arm and leg toward the ceiling remembering to keep neck relaxed. Repeat 10 times and perform 2 times/day.

Hamstring Stretch – While seated, cross one leg over the other in a figure 4 position. Relax arms down by sides and slowly lean forward trying to touch your chest to your leg. Stop at point of restriction/pain. Repeat 3-5 times on each side and perform 2 times/day.

Piriformis Stretch – While lying face-up, cross one leg over the other in a figure 4 position. Lift non-crossed leg slightly off the floor while you hold the crossed leg’s knee with both hands. Gently pull knee toward opposite side of your body (crossing it over you) until you feel resistance in the deep buttock muscles. NOTE: The more you pull across your body, the more stretch you will feel. Repeat on each side 3-5 times and perform 1-2 times/day.

** Before beginning intensive exercise programs, consult with your Doctor. If you feel dizzy, weak or pain when performing these or any exercises, stop immediately and contact your Doctor.

Photo Credit: myyogaonline via Compfight cc

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