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Moves to help w/ flexibility, body pains

April 14, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Modern technology has made us "chair-borne" and gravity's effect has us rounding forward. Movement therapist Lenny Parracino says this is creating havoc on our body.

"When gravity is acting on us, we don't see it, but we know it's driving us downward. We tend to become more slumped," said Lenny Parracino of AIM Sports Medicine in Hermosa Beach.

Neck aches, headaches, arms that tingle, lower back pain are all common even if we hit the gym a few times a week.

"Think of your arm as a weight. It's a levered arm to the center, and the farther it gets from the center, the more stress and strain it will place right up by the neck," Parracino said.

Add the weight of your head, which is about 12 to 14 pounds, and the normal blood flow in the nerves in the neck get pinched.

The body tends to tighten up further to protect itself. That's when it's time for what he calls a micro break.

"A micro break is just to stand up at your desk, your workplace, wherever you are and just mobilize your body," Parracino said.

Try extending your body out straight in a fluid manner as far as possible, making sure to rotate the pelvis at the same time. Elongate your spine as your arm is driven in a lateral direction.

Then with hands on shoulder, extend arms upward, keeping elbows high, which lift the ribcage with gentle rotation. Again side to side, add a greater rotation, then finally, extend up overhead as high as possible, then backwards.

The big question many ask is whether they should be working through pain and discomfort. Parracino says there's actually a distinct difference between the two.

"What you're going to find is when people are in pain, they tend to go more in the fetal position, they tend to crouch," he said. "Discomfort will allow you to still move your body. Your body will always protect itself. It's designed for survival."

Parracino says take one-minute breaks throughout the day to do these simple moves. [Watch video of Parracino's lower body flexibility workout].