Back Flexibility Stretches for Winter Workouts

Sherwin Garcia

November 28, 2021

Warming up and stretching before a workout is critical, especially during winter, to reduce muscle stress and strain. Your back and hips are two essential areas to stretch before starting an exercise routine, especially when it’s cold. 

These back flexibility stretches prepare your hips and spine for activity by taking them through their range of motion while helping with blood circulation, which is vital on cold winter days.

Importance of Back Flexibility Stretches in Winter

We’ve all learned how essential it is to stretch prior to exercising. Stretching improves flexibility and range of motion, lowering your risk of injury.

However, your stretching routine becomes even more beneficial during the cold winter months. When your body is cold, your muscles contract to conserve heat, making them stiffer, less flexible, and more susceptible to injury.

Here are four crucial guidelines to help you stay on track with this essential step in your winter workouts:

Warmup

It’s important to warm up even for a few minutes before beginning your stretching exercise. Stretching a cold muscle can result in an injury we’re trying to avoid. Instead, start with a jog or brisk walk. This type of mild aerobic exercise is excellent for getting blood circulating to your muscles and preparing them to be stretched. 

Stretching Routine

Most experts believe that a dynamic – rather than static stretching routine is better in colder weather. This entails gentle, rhythmic motions, such as leg kicks or arm circles, rather than extending a muscle and holding the pose briefly. Dynamic stretches are ideal when it’s cold outside since they stretch your muscles while also getting your blood pumping, keeping you warmed up and ready for your workout. 

During Workout

If you’re going to engage in an outdoor sport that will need you to stand still for extended periods, use that time to perform a few more dynamic stretches to keep your muscles warm. To keep the blood flowing, circle your arms, make a few lunges, or simply jog in place. Remember that cold, tight muscles are more susceptible to injury, so keep yourself warm at all times.

Cooling Down

Stretching can also be a terrific way to cool down after a workout. After strenuous physical activity, the slow, regulated pace of static stretching can help drop your heart rate. It’ll feel fantastic on those muscles you’ve been working. Just keep in mind that you should never stretch a muscle to the point that you’ll feel the slightest amount of pain.

Back Flexibility Stretches

Downward Facing Dog

Steps

  • Begin the stretch by kneeling in your tabletop position. Tuck your toes beneath and walk your hands forward a few inches.
  • Make a V-shape with your body by pressing your palms together and lifting your hips towards the ceiling. Maintain a slight bend in your knees if your lower back is tense.
  • Lift through your tailbone by pressing your chest back towards your thighs and engaging your abs. You should feel a stretch at the back of your body. 
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds.

Benefits

This exercise is excellent for warming up your body. It stretches the back, hamstrings, calves, and shoulders while strengthening your arms, shoulders, and back.

Hip Hinges

Steps

  • Stand up while keeping your back straight.
  • Bend at the waist, taking care not to round your lower back. Push your hips back as far as you can while maintaining your legs straight most of the time (a slight bend at the knees still works).
  • Dangle your arms in the direction of your toes.
  • Squeeze your hamstrings and buttocks (gluteal muscles) to get up. This is a posterior chain (hamstrings and gluteal muscles) rather than a back movement. The squeezing motion should drive your hips forward. If you keep your core braced, your chest should lift as your hips come forward.
  • Repeat the steps nine more times.

Benefits

This exercise is one of the best dynamic stretches for your hamstrings and lower back. It’s somewhat similar to the toe touch stretch you perform in middle school gym class, where you bend at the waist, reach down, and try to touch your toes, but with added movement. 

Neck Turns

Steps

  • Shake your head “no,” then look to your left, then back to the center. Afterward, look to your right and back to the center again. That’s counted as one repetition. Repeat this step nine more times.
  • Shake your head “yes;” first, look up and point your nose to the ceiling, then come back through the center. Look down, then back to the center. Again, that’s counted as another repetition. Repeat nine more times.
  • Bring your right ear to your right shoulder, then back through the center. Bring your left ear to your left shoulder, then back to the center again. Repeat the steps nine more times.
  • Using your chin, draw ten clockwise and ten counterclockwise circles.

Benefits

This exercise helps mobilize the muscles of your neck and upper back. They’re specifically helpful if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer or frequently look down at your phone.

Seated Side Stretch

Steps

  • Begin by sitting on the ground with your legs crossed.
  • Inhale and raise both arms above your head as you sit up tall.
  • Exhale completely and place your left hand on the ground.
  • Bend your left arm slightly and reach your right arm up and over your head.
  • Maintain both of your sitting bones on the ground. While in this position, you should feel a stretch through your right side.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then return to your initial position. 
  • Perform the same steps, this time on the opposite side.

Benefits

This basic stretch helps open up the back, hips, shoulders, and triceps.  

Thread the Needle

Steps

  • Start the exercise on your hands and knees in a tabletop position on the floor or a mat.
  • Lift your right hand off the mat and bring your right shoulder and cheek to the mat by threading your right arm underneath your left arm.
  • Feel a stretch between your shoulder blades as you walk your left fingers towards the top of the mat.
  • Hold for 30 seconds before slowly returning to your tabletop position.
  • Repeat all the steps, this time on the other side.

Benefits

This stretch helps relieve tension in your shoulders and upper back.

Cat-Cow Stretches

Steps

  • Get on all fours while keeping your spine straight.
  • Breathe in and bring your belly toward the ground, forming a “U” shape with your spine. Exhale and raise your upper back to the ceiling in an inverted “U” shape. Revert to a straight spine.
  • Repeat the steps nine more times.

Benefits

This is one of the more traditional back flexibility stretches you can do to help stretch both the lumbar and thoracic spines.

Bottomline

Cold or freezing weather is no excuse not to go outside and enjoy the fresh air this winter. Wear warm clothing and develop proper back flexibility stretches to continue enjoying your outdoor workout all year round! 

It may be cold outdoors, but don’t let that stop you from attaining your fitness goals. 

DISCLAIMER:

All the videos used in this article belong to their respective owners, and we don’t claim the rights to any of them. They aren’t intended as substitutes for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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Sherwin is one of the resident bloggers of BodyTrends who writes mainly about diet, exercise, and other topics in the health and wellness niche. His journey as a wellbeing advocate started way back in secondary school when he got cut from the varsity team due to conditioning concerns. While he didn’t realize his dreams of becoming a professional athlete a decade later, he’s able to improve his fitness constantly by adhering to nutrition and other personal care programs. Through writing, he wants to inspire others to lead a healthier lifestyle as we usher in the post-pandemic era.

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