Mobility Exercises and Stretches

23/06/2022

A patient said to me recently as I was working on her leg, ‘It’s almost like it’s connected all the way up to my head’.  It seemed obvious to me now but being an osteopath for more than half my life, I don’t remember what I didn’t know.  I think it is important to understand how the body works, how a small injury on the foot, or a sprained ankle can lead to imbalance and dysfunction all the way up the body to result in back pain or even headaches, especially if the body is already under strain from arthritis or stiffness. 

Our job as osteopaths is to find areas of imbalance, stiffness and tension that may be causing symptoms.  We ask about recent and sometimes old injuries as this can all affect how the body functions and we assess, not just the painful area but related areas. 

Mobility is so important for the human body. Even a little gentle stretching exercise can be useful to maintain mobility and improve blood supply which in turn aids muscle health. At the Trinity Practice, we can tailor make any exercise programme to suit you but as a generalised routine, think about all of your joints (maybe not all 360 of them!), and which way they should move and gently move them.

In a sitting or lying position, start with your feet and ankles, gently scrunch and release your toes, circle your ankles both ways.  Bend and straighten your knees and then in a standing position, holding on if you need to, bend your knee up high and out to the side to open out the hip joints.  You can repeat all of these a couple of times each side until you feel the joints loosening.  You may also be able to increase the range of movement each time.

For the lower back, my favourite stretch is to lie down and gently pull your knees up towards your chest, holding them for a few seconds.  Take a couple of deep breaths and each time you breathe out, let your lower back give and loosen a little.  It is a really nice passive stretch, great for people who stand a lot.  In the same position, you can let your knees circle or bend down to each side.  Take note of where you can feel this so you can change it if necessary.

The mid-upper back is somewhere that gets very stiff and you may need treatment initially to help you get more movement into this area.  Some gentle shoulder circles are useful though,  as the muscles that attach to your shoulder blades also attach to the spine so as you move your shoulders, your spine will move along with it.

 

I prefer not to recommend neck circles, especially without seeing the patient first as the neck structures can be quite delicate and forced extension can be damaging.  We can give you specific exercises if this is what you need.

Alongside any of these stretches, breathing is important, partly to oxygenate the body tissues and aid with fluid movement around the body

With all exercises, there are lots of variations and different ways of doing them.  These are just a few generic ones to get you started.  As with all exercise, something is better than nothing.  All the osteopaths at Trinity Practice have their own style and you are welcome to see any of us to discuss your specific requirements.

Our thanks to Rehab My Patient for their kind permission to use their Videos

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