3 Key Exercises to Soothe Your Sore Back

An aching back is zero fun—Here are three exercises to soothe, strengthen, and rejuvenate.

The Core Problem

Many times the origin of back pain comes from a weak core. Strengthening back and core muscles can help you avoid soreness and injury in the future. In the meanwhile, our objective is to get rid of pain. Certain yoga moves can be essential to recreating a healthy spine.

Some of the most common complaints are soreness, stiffness, and aches in the back, neck, and shoulders. Common causes of these complaints are from stress. (Breathing deeply during the exercises will help release tension, too.)

Other reasons for back annoyances are from: sitting improperly in your chair, poor posture, carrying a heavy purse on the same arm, bad mattress and/or pillows, and lousy footwear. This includes flip-flops as well as stiletto heels. Keep these in mind so that when you fix your back, you don’t mess it up again.

The Moves

Our vertebral column is categorized into three sections. The lowest portion is called the Lumbar. The middle is the Thoracic, and the upper section is the Cervical. Certain yoga poses focus on specific sections of the spine. Choose the ones that focus on your area of discomfort. Grab a mat, towel, or place yourself on carpeting or a soft wood floor. Let’s begin…

1) The Cobra

Lie flat on your belly, keeping the tops of your feet on the floor. Keep your thighs pressed into the floor as well. Spread your hands down on the mat under your shoulders. Keep your elbows pressed into your body.

Take a deep breath in, and lift your head and chest off the ground by straightening your arms. Bring your chin and your glance upwards. Hold the pose for 10 seconds. Exhale while bending at the elbows and releasing you chest and head back to the mat.

2) The Cat

Get on your hands and knees, keeping your back as flat and even as possible. Keep your head neutral and your eyes looking down at your mat. Take a deep breath in and hold it for five seconds.

As you exhale, round your spine towards the ceiling, like a scaredy cat. Relax your neck and let your head hang down comfortably. Inhale and return to your tabletop position, bringing your head back to a neutral placement.

3) The Child

Kneel, tops of feet pressed to the floor, now press your butt down. Reach forward with your chest and arms. Reach your fingertips way out in front of you onto the floor. Your head should be down and your neck relaxed.

Hold this pose for as long as you like. Breathe slowly and deeply and relish this lower-back stretch.

Repeat each move several times or mix and match. There are virtually hundreds of poses that are gentle and promote both healing and health maintenance. Adding yoga positions and stretching to your regular workout regimen can help keep you less sore and more injury free.

Check out www.GetThrive.com for more tips on taking care of your human temple.

How a Pet Can Optimize Your Health and Decrease Medical Bills

Growing up, we had pets, but they weren’t the profound family members that since, in adulthood, I’ve learned them to become. We had some goldfish (probably won at the county fair) that either jumped out of the bowl in the night and met their life-without-water fate or passed from murky-water illness.

My dad also brought home a puppy one Christmas, but she was never properly trained, had anger issues, and bit my sister and I so often that she was sent to a “farm” one day while we were at school.

It wasn’t until years later, while living alone, it occurred to me that I could have a pet—an animal of my choice that I would be responsible for and love unconditionally.

I adopted a kitten (with encouragement from a co-worker who, not ironically, had six cats), and Frederick the Feline became my partner, increasing my household number of residents to two. Frederick brought me great joy (and hopefully vice versa) on a daily basis.

It wasn’t until my boyfriend at the time abruptly ended our five-year relationship, that I realized Frederick literally saved my life. My pet helped me through one of the most disconcerting and difficult emotional times I had experienced to that point.

It’s tough for me to wrap my brain around the thought that there are many people (even “experts”) who do not subscribe to the theory that pets provide an emotional or physical benefit to humans.

There is, however, a plethora of research that points to improved state of mind and physical health, and even saves on health care costs by being a pet owner. One such example is from The Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) released research in April 2013. They identified seven key areas in which human health is positively impacted by animals: allergy and asthma immunity among children, Alzheimer’s, autism, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dogs Rock! Dogs, in particular, have been found to decrease physical and mental decline in owners. Regularly walking your dog makes you less likely to become obese. You are also more apt to be social—whether by talking with your pooch or other dog-walkers/owners.

Research has shown that dogs, as pets, have: decreased stress levels along with depression incidences, lowered blood pressure, and increased serotonin levels from playing—overall, creating a calmer human. Side note: A person with a dog who has suffered from a heart attack is far more likely to be alive one year later than a person without a canine companion.

Not to make it seem like dogs are the “best” pet (because all creatures are fabulous), but another argument pro-pup is that kids find console with their dogs. “When children are asked who they talk to when they get upset, a lot of times their first answer is their pet,” reported Dr. James Griffin. And Dr. Oz points out that exposure to a pet during infancy may mean less chance of developing asthma or eczema later in life.

For the elderly set, research shows that Alzheimer patients have less anxiety and unexpected outbursts when an animal is in their presence; this even includes fish. Watching fish glide through water creates a calming effect. This pet-induced tranquility has been known to also lower blood pressure (in people of all ages, by the way).

Cats, as pets, tend to be low maintenance, which also relieves stress from caregivers. Expressing love and feeling love and empathy are positive states of being. Nourish your well being by opening your heart to a pet (…and other humans.)