Hi, I'm Doctor Jo, a Physical Therapist and Doctor of Physical Therapy. I hope you enjoy my video demos of stretches & exercises for common injuries and syndromes. Be safe. Have fun. And I hope you feel better soon.

Don't Crack Your Knuckles! Try these Finger Exercises & Stretches Instead

In general, cracking your knuckles is not a bad thing, but having the urge to crack your knuckles a lot usually indicates a muscle imbalance or something is out of alignment. These finger stretches & exercises may help fix those issues.

Starting off with ball or towel squeezes and using a rubber band will help strengthen your flexor and extensor muscles of the fingers.

Active movement and stretches as your finger joints and opening and closing your hand as wide as you can will help keep the joints flexible and mobile to prevent cracking and popping.

Finally, wrist and finger stretches, like for your wrist flexors, help open up the whole arm to loosen them up. A reverse hand clasp and prayer stretch do a great job of loosening the forearms up as well.

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Don't Crack Your Back! Try these Back Exercises & Stretches Instead

Buy Back Cracking Alternative WorksheetIn general, cracking your back (or adjusting your back) is not bad if done correctly, but it's probably not fixing the issue causing the back pain. These back stretches & exercises target muscles that often cause back pain.

If you have certain diagnoses, you should not crack your back, so these stretches and exercises are a better alternative.

Bridges are a great way to start to loosen up your back and hips.

Stretches like single knee to chest, supine trunk rotation, and lower back stretching with a leg cross over will help relax tight back muscles that might be causing your back to be out of alignment.

Isometric exercises are a great way to not only strengthen your muscles, but also help adjust your joints if needed. Muscle energy techniques (MET) help to do this.

Finally, prone props should only be done if you know what your diagnosis is. They are good for disc issues, but not other ailments.

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Don't Crack Your Neck! Try these Neck Exercises & Stretches Instead

Buy Neck Cracking Alternatives WorksheetPopping or cracking your neck may provide temporary neck pain relief, but it's probably not fixing the issue that's causing the pain. These neck stretches & exercises target the muscles that often cause neck pain.

Start off with isometric neck exercises. Cervical side bending, rotation, and extension isometrics will help strengthen and relax the neck muscles.

Chin tucks are one of my favorite exercises, and it also stretches the neck muscles as well.

After you do the neck exercises, neck stretches will help keep the muscles loose and relaxed so you don’t feel the need to crack your neck. The upper traps, levator scap, and scalane muscles are the main ones around the neck that will cause pain and tightness.

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Top 5 Pelvic Floor Exercises

Buy Pelvic Floor WorksheetThese Pelvic Floor Exercises are some of my favorites. Since the pelvic floor muscles are small, it doesn’t take a lot of movement to work them, so it's best to start with a little and slowly work up.

The pelvic floor is a group of small muscles along the floor of the pelvis. They help support organs in the pelvis and help with stability in the hip area.

The first exercise is going to be a pelvic tilt. When done correctly, you are not using your legs to tilt at the pelvis, just your pelvic muscles.

Then you can progress to doing pelvic clocks. It’s just like it sounds by imagining you have a clock on your tummy. Then you can tilt at different angles of the clock.

The next exercise is a progressive movement, so you can start with each movement at a time. Place a ball in between your knees. Go into a pelvic tilt and squeeze the ball. If those are easy, then lift your feet to where your hips and knees are at about a 90-degree angle. Then if that’s easy, you can place your hands on the front of your thighs to also activate your hip flexors by pushing into your hands. Try to keep your tilt the whole time.

The last two exercises focus on the obturator internus muscle. It also attaches to the femur bone to help with stability. So it’s a great general hip exercise as well. Place the ball in between your knees again, and while you squeeze into the ball, push your feet outward without moving them with an isometric squeeze.

Finally, wrap a belt or strap around your ankles, and roll onto your stomach. Bend your knees so your feet are up toward the ceiling. Push out into the belt like you are pushing your feet away from each other, and at the same time tighten your core by tucking your tailbone in.

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