Flexibility training uses stretching exercises. Many stretching exercises are particularly beneficial for the back. In general, flexibility training provides the following benefits:

Prevents cramps, stiffness, and injuries

Improves joint and muscle movement (improved range of motion)

Certain flexibility practices, such as yoga and tai chi, also involve meditation and breathing techniques that reduce stress. Such practices appear to have many health and mental benefits. They may be very suitable and highly beneficial for older people, and for patients with certain chronic diseases.

Flexibility Training Regiments. Doctors recommend performing stretching exercises for 10 – 12 minutes at least three times a week. The following are some general guidelines:

When stretching, exhale and extend the muscles to the point of tension, not pain, and hold for 20 – 60 seconds. (Beginners may need to start with a 5- to 10-second stretch.)

Breathe evenly and constantly while holding the stretch.

Inhale when returning to a relaxed position. Holding your breath defeats the purpose; it causes muscle contraction and raises blood pressure.

When doing stretches that involve the back, relax the spine to keep the lower back flush with the mat, and to work only the muscles required for changing position (often these are only the abdominal muscles).