Years ago I learned that stretching to begin and end your day was the only way to keep my back from tightening up.
Several of you have asked me about the yoga stretching I do twice per day. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before. But I’ll go over it a bit again.
By the time I was 30, I had to have back surgery. I could barely walk. And I was forced to use a cane. To walk from my house to the car was so painful I can still recall my tiny mincing steps.
A Failed Surgery:
The surgery really didn’t help. I had a pretty good seven months, then I was back where I started. Awful pain and tightness.
It never occurred to me at the time that there was something I could do about it myself. I depended upon doctors too much back then.
And then my life changed when I visited this sports medicine doctor in San Antonio. She was fantastic.
Instead of talking about surgery and strong pain pills, she showed me these yoga stretching exercises. She sent me home with pages of what to do and how to do them.
I was just turning 40, and I recall thinking: how on earth could this help? But I dove into doing them and did exactly as she told me to do.
Within a few months I’d lost about 20 pounds, probably from the sheer movement. (Wish it still worked that way.)
And sciatica that had plagued me much of my life was gone. Gone! I couldn’t believe it.
But I have stuck to that regimen and do the stretching twice per day no matter what is going on. My day is sort of arranged around those stretching sessions.
After The Ankle Injury:
Seventeen years later. Yes, I’m overweight. The ankle injury that’s been so difficult has put about thirty more pounds on the scale that I’m desperate to get off.
I’m hoping this spring I can do more in the yard and take some of the weight off. Still, no sciatica.
It takes about 20 minutes twice per day. First thing in the morning, I get down on my bedroom floor. I keep the yoga mat and a tightly wrapped towel close by. And I start the exercises.
If I feel stiff, I stretch in other ways that aren’t on my list.
When we wake up in the morning, most people are running around the kitchen, making coffee, getting kids to school (for you younger ladies), and our body simply isn’t ready to reach up and down and all around.
Yoga stretching is my way of transitioning from sleep to daytime activities. I would no more think of just getting up and taking a shower and heading for the kitchen than I would fly.
As I stretch, I feel my body start to relax with the movements. I feel the tightness that has crept in overnight begin to ease. And then I take my morning shower and start my day. Mostly pain-free.
In the evening, before my meal, I do them again. I have learned that it is as much mental as it is physical.
My Evening Ritual:
My evening ritual of stretching allows me time to process the day, put it away, and ease toward night and sleep.
Then I take my evening shower to further relax my body. I do some stretching while standing in the shower too. Like putting my hands against the tiles and stretching the back of my legs. I feel the tightness leaving my legs.
I don’t even recall how it was I came to go to this doctor all those years ago, but it completely changed my life. But I was pain-free for the first time in years.
Not that I still didn’t hurt myself lifting and doing things without thinking, but now, with the ankle injury, there is less chance of that. Because my ankle will stop me before my back gets to that point.
It might not work for everyone. But it did absolute wonders for me.