I regularly stretch - I had a back injury, years ago, and have had occasional flare-ups, spasms, soreness, pain and such. I have been to many physical therapy sessions and have a full notebook of recommended stretches - low level for bad days, increasingly more challenging one for better days. With so many back issues, particularly in the lower back or neck areas, people should think about proper daily stretches and proper posture.

To help with posture, learn to stand up straight with head high. You should stretch your pectoral muscles to give you the support you need to be able to stand. Don't bend down to look at your phone and such - bring the phone or whatever up to your eye level. Sit up straight, and use a wedge when in a chair (such as in your car) to bring the lumbar region up higher - you should not be sinking down as you sit.

Your core is important to maintain strength in - having a strong core will help support your back muscles and give you support in other ways. It's a fundamental area to work on.

You should do squats and lunges to keep your knees in shape, and work your leg muscles. Your knees need to be worked on - I used to get a squishy sound when walking but after doing these exercises that is no longer the case.

While speaking of legs, the hamstring muscles should be worked daily, as well. When I started working on the hamstrings, it was a very weird, awkward stretch that was quite difficult. It got better after stretching it awhile and now it's getting built up.

You should do stretches for your back - when your back hurts, functioning is hard. Keep your back in good shape, and be careful when lifting and such. Use your legs to lift, not your back.

Stretch your psoas and piriformis muscles. Stretch your hamstrings. These are important areas to keep in shape, that will help the rest of your body in better shape.

Your shoulders, neck and pectoral muscles need to be cared for. Shoulder injury is very painful - keep care of your shoulders and avoid such pain. Your neck will put a kink in your whole day, if it's stiff or sore. Do some neck stretches daily, and start the day by putting your chin down to your chest, then look up. The pec muscles need to be strong, too, as they help your posture, and help women carry their frontal weight to prevent early sagging of breasts.

Of course, make sure to stretch any area that is stiff or sore - and do gentle exercises for any injured area - but ask a doctor or physical therapist for correct types of recovery stretches, so you don't cause more harm.

Do some heart rate exercise each day as well, every once in awhile a few times a day, for 10-20 minutes or when you can. It can be walking, bicycling, trampoline, running, or something you just enjoy.

Do a bit of weight work as well - lift something in different ways.

If you work on these muscles daily you will get by for longer and with less misery than if you don't do them. I'll go through my favorite stretches in later posts.

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