According to the American Chiropractic Association, or ACA, more than half of Americans suffer from some form of back pain. Along with a healthy weight and balanced diet, the ACA recommends maintaining proper posture, a task that many back-straightening exercises can help you achieve. In addition to day-to-day back straightening, some exercises can help straighten spines affected by scoliosis and other ailments. Always warm up before exercising, and stay hydrated during the process.
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In his article, “Yoga: The Most Effective Scoliosis Exercise,” Back Pain Resources Online editor Saurabah Jain recommends yoga for helping to correct the side-to-side spinal curves of scoliosis and the normal curves the spine acquires over time. Saurabah recommends the Crocodile Twist pose, in which you lie flat and use your left hand to bring your right foot to rest on your left knee, forming the shape of a crocodile's head. Stretch your free hand out, relax and repeat with the other side. Other yoga poses for straightening the spine include the Supine Knee Chest Twist, the Passive Back Arch and the One Leg Up One Leg Out posture. The Head to Knee pose also helps maintain proper alignment. For this pose, sit on the floor with one foot tucked in and resting against the inner thigh of the opposing leg. Bend down, slowly bringing your face as close to the extended leg as you can and holding the pose; remember to let only go as far as is comfortable and extending over time.
For those looking for a slightly more intensive — though still low-impact — exercise, Pilates incorporates dance, yoga, meditation and strength training to improve overall health. As Pilates exercises position the body for maximum benefit and minimum strain, this system of exercise has a clear focus on improving posture and alignment. Pilates' focus exercises help improve awareness of neutral alignment, while its deep abdomen exercises help strengthen and straighten the spine. In addition, Pilates programs help exercisers gain awareness of movement habits that stress the spine.
The public service health initiative Straighten Up America recommends a series of stretching exercises to help straighten the back. For each exercise, begin standing straight with your belly button pulled in towards your spine, breathing deeply and regularly. For a light exercise, massage the nape of your neck and move down to its base; afterward, let your arms relax, and slowly roll your shoulders backwards and forwards for 15 seconds at a time. Another exercise is the “Eagle,” in which you begin in something of a star shape, with your back straight, arms extended outward and feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly raise your arms until your hands touch over your head, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you breathe in. Breathe out, lower your arms and repeat. For the “Hummingbird,” make backward circles in the air with your hands and arms as you sway from side to side for 10 seconds.
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