September 21, 2010 |
Directions for use of Therapy Noodles
Therapy noodles can work magic on sore back and neck pain.
1. Choose which noodle you prefer.
The 6” x 36” noodle gives the biggest stretch, and also requires more balancing. Use the half moon noodle that is 3.5” by 36” if you want a more stable surface. If you have difficulty with balance, the half moon noodle might be the best option. You can also roll over onto the half noodle if you have trouble getting up and down from the floor to sit on the round noodle.
This is self care, so that means listening to your body. Don’t do any exercises or stretches that cause undue pain.
2. Choose an area with enough room to do the stretches without running into anything, or hitting anything if you slip off the noodle. Don’t use the noodle over a loose rug.
3. Wear comfortable clothes. You won’t be able to stretch as well in tight clothing.
4. Sit on the end of the noodle. Start with your hips positioned far enough down one end that your head is supported on the other end. Feet should be flat on the floor, knees bent at a right angle, and arms stretched out at a right angle to the body, palms up.
5. Just laying on the noodle gently aligns the spine. Let gravity work its magic! Many people, especially when first starting to use the noodle, may feel the spine pop or crack as with a spinal adjustment with a chiropractor. Just lay there. Take deep breaths and relax those contracted muscles. You are getting adjusted up and down while getting a vertical stretch, as well. Gently rock back and forth sideways. You need to lie on the noodle at least five minutes–preferably ten–to allow your spine to relax and straighten. Stretch your arms out over your head for part of the time, and it also feels good to put the palms together at the head, letting the weight of your arms give you a good stretch.
In the fitness and sports medicine world, therapy noodles are referred to as foam rollers. The use of the foam rollers\noodles has become very common for professional athletes because it allows them to use myofascial relief techniques to treat pain and restriction of motion by stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and increasing circulation. The noodle works its same magic on non-athletes including computer users.
6. If you have computer neck or otherwise need a good neck stretch, move down until the head half hangs off the end of the noodle either a little or all the way off depending on how much stretch feels good. To get a light traction, tip your hips towards the end of the noodle. Stretch and then relax.
7. The first few times on the noodle you may just want to do stretches. Don’t be surprised if you are sore the next day as you are stretching in new ways. After you’ve got used to the stretches, do some simple exercise. Raise your arms slowly overhead, parallel to the body, and slowly lower them to the ground behind your head, rest and relax for a few seconds and do it again five to ten times. This is one of the most pain relieving stretches. It is particularly good if you have poor posture that resembles a humpback. This stretch will straighten you out!
8. Raise your arms, palms together, straight overhead. Slowly lower the left arm to the ground at your side (at a right angle to the body) and then up again. Then lower the right arm to the ground. Repeat five to ten times.
9. Half sits up can really help lubricate the spine. Cross your hands over your chest, and lift your head only as far as comfortable. Don’t try to go into a complete sit-up. Just do the half sits, starting with just a few and work up to about 20. You can do this with your head on or off the end of the noodle, depending on what feels best to you. A variation is to do the four half sit ups, rocking back and forth between each time that you lower your head to the noodle.
10. These simple exercises need only take ten to 15 minutes a day, and can make a huge difference in how good you feel.
11. If you have an office at home or with a bit of privacy, take breaks from the computer a few times a day to just lay on the noodle or do a few of the simple exercises. It is good to start the day with the spine aligned, even if you lay on the noodle only a few minutes.
12. Another exercise that can be done with the round noodle is placing it crosswise under the middle of your back. With your feet flat on the ground, knees bent, and head stretched back (so gravity is giving you gentle neck traction) roll the noodle up and down the middle part of the back. Don’t try to extend too far. You might feel or hear some gentle adjustments with this technique that you didn’t get with the noodle lengthwise. I find this fine tunes the self adjustment.
After rolling a minute or two, try stopping and just stretching with the arms overhead. This is a restorative yoga pose.
The suggestions above come from personal experience and are designed for people who want to help themselves with a low cost, effective back therapy. If you have serious back problems (if you are in so much pain you can hardly move, that is serious), check with a physician, physical therapist or chiropractor for advice before starting to use the therapy noodle.