Tag: stretch

Low Back Stiffness. Stretch it? Or Load it?

Hello fellow SAC members,

I have heard a lot of patients come into the office complaining about low back stiffness, especially when they do a side bend and felt a good “stretch” along the side of their body. Here’s what I tell them to do before they try to do the stretches. Check out the video to see me explaining one of my favorite exercises, the kettlebells carry.

Move better to feel better,

Dr. Michael Li, DACRB

You can see the whole blog from our clinic blog here.  You will also see the video I did for this exercise.



Pilates Exercise of the Month: ROCKING



To strengthen the back and hip extensors; to improve hip flexor flexibility and to stretch the chest.


1)  Lie on your stomach.  Inhale, bend the knees and reach back with the arms, taking hold of the ankles and lifting the trunk and legs into an arch.

2) Exhale rock forward.

3) Inhale and rock backward, lifting your chest and pulling back from your ankles.  Keep your navel pressed into your spine.

4) Rock back and forth 5 times.

5) End by releasing your ankles and sitting back to your heels, with your arms stretched long in front of you.  Place forehead on the mat. This position is similar to child’s pose in Yoga.  Comfort is key.



Imagine yourself as a rocking horse. Another image is that of a boat rocking forward and backward as it sails through the waves.



Keep the head still and in line with the spine.

Maintain scapular stability throughout; keep arms straight.

Create a comfortable rhythm of breath and motion as you rock.

Do not toss head forward and backward to initiate the rocking movements.



This is an advance Pilates exercise.  If you’ve had a knee, shoulder or rotator cuff injury, we suggest a Certified Pilates Instructor guide you through the movement or omit the exercise from your routine.


There are many ways to stretch: static, static with pulsing, active release, reciprocal inhibition, and activated isolated stretching (AIS). There are many people who don’t like the old-school static stretching, so let’s look at that last one, which can help give you a small strength increase while you lengthen your muscles!

How does AIS work? Let’s say, for example, that you wanted to stretch your calf. You would sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and a yoga strap, belt, or similar object. The first thing you do is try to move your toes toward your kneecap, making note of how far you can move it. Then you put the yoga strap around the ball of your foot and try again to move your toes toward your kneecap, but this time when you reach the limit of your movement you gently pull on the strap to move your foot just a little bit farther.

You should do that twelve times, and when you’ve finished you would not only have stretched your calf muscle, you would also have strengthened your anterior low leg. Two birds with one stone!

For more information, pick up the book “The Whartons’ Stretch Book” by Jim and Phil Wharton.

Develop your core with Yoga

Do you want a strong core? Check out this twist…

A lot is said about the Yoga Practice for “flexibility” and it’s true, “Range of Motion-use it or loose it”…but did you ever think about the other half of that? Strength.

Healthy low back needs flexibility around the hip flexors, adductors, hammies and lats….but all those stabilizer muscles need to be strong too, on a deep level.

Lunge “hands free” Twist is an excellent way to develop Core strength and practice what I call “stealth” yoga, when you are doing more than one pose at a time with out even knowing it. Lunges of course strengthen the whole leg, and stretch quads/adductors, and with the addition of a Core stabilizing twist, Ba BAM!!! Ballistic power and flexibility under pressure.

Let’s do this:
First, step onto your yoga mat in lunge position, heel of back foot up, equal weight on both feet. As you breathe in, place your hands in “prayer pose”, keep your hands to your chest and gently start the twist toward the bent knee direction. Keep lengthening your spine, and drop your shoulders. But here’s the key “no touchy” your knee with your elbows, this is all about developing core strength and flexibility with JUST your core, not “yanking” with your hands…Each time you inhale, pause at the top of the breath, actively pull your belly button to your spine ( what ‘s really happening is the central tendon in your diaphragm is pulling that muscle down, giving you space and strength to twist) then exhale and deepen thee twist…take your time, 5 breaths or so on each side.

You will definitely create internal heat from working this pose, and you’ll be amazed at how sore you feel from this simple but very effective way to add a strong “hands free ” twist to your yoga practice. Excellent for golfer’s, footballers, squash players and anyone who goes from a relaxed state to requiring ballistic strength and energy as soon as the alarm goes off.