Running clears the mind and compresses the spine. The spinal cord is the brain’s messenger. It lives in the center of your vertebra and finds peace when given just the right amount of twist and torque.

With long term stress, problems of the spine can range from uncomfortable to painful to excruciating. The good news is that the relationship between running and compression is not all bad.

Our system responds to compression with strength, repair and adaptability. However, long training can cause break down and fatigue. Help the back muscles to release and the spine to recover faster using the following stretches. They will hydrate fluid in the disk, release tight spine muscles and promote recovery of the nervous system.

Lower back elongator

The pros like this stretch because it is easy, but deeply effective. It may be just the answer for a sore back after a long ride — particularly if climbing is involved. The lower back elongator will relax lower back muscles, extend the spine and increase nutrition and recovery to the brain.

This stretch is most effective when you use your inhale to expand your ribs. Recall that if the ribs move, the spine moves, then the brain moves.

  • Start on your hands and knees.
  • Then lower your hips to your heels and your chest to your knees.
  • Rest your forehead on the floor.
  • Use your inhale to expand the ribs.
  • Stay for 10 – 20 breaths.

The elongator is most effective when step four is implemented. In this and all stretches, find a position that feels comfortable, then direct your attention to the areas that you want to access. And finally, use your breathe to expand into the deep internal muscles.

Spine roll

The nervous system has a mass of 2 kg/4.5 pounds and accounts for three percent of our body weight. It does more work than a triathlete, knows more about the body than a doctor and is responsible for food and waste removal to the brain.

The spine roll uses the ever-present force of gravity and the weight of the head to bring balance to your nervous system. This balance includes decompression of the disks, cerebral spinal fluid to the brain and stress response of the nervous system.

  • Interlace your hands behind your head, keeping your fingers and elbows relaxed.
  • As you exhale, bend your knees; relax your elbows toward your face and round forward.
  • Stay and inhale into the ribs.
  • When you exhale, keep the chin in toward your chest and roll up.
  • Repeat five times, moving on the exhale and staying on the inhale.
  • This is a great position to stay in for 5 – 10 breaths.

Take your time with the spine roll. After moving up and down four to six times, move to a position that feels extra tight, stop, expand the area with your inhale and wait. Then slightly shift your position and find the next tight area, breath and wait.

Experience these simple stretches. Find the depth of your recovery. Stay strong. Feel good.

Race and train forever.