Easy Stretches To Reduce Back Pain
Try doing these 6 easy stretches to reduce back pain right at home.
Back pain can be, well, a pain. Lower back pain, in particular affects almost everyone at some point during their lives. While it may be tempting to lie in bed all day, that can actually make the problem worse. Luckily, there are several basic stretches to help you get out of bed, off the couch, and back on the go.
Keeping the following helpful tips in mind can make sure you get the most out of your stretches:
- Try to remain in whatever pose you choose for at least 10 seconds although a minimum of 30 seconds is ideal to allow joints and muscles to adequately stretch
- Stretching should not be painful. You may feel slight discomfort, but it should feel like a gentle pulling sensation
- Dont force your body into a pose thats too difficult
- Stretches should be done on a firm, flat surface
- Wear comfortable shoes that will stop you from sliding on the floor
- Move into the stretch slowly and hold without bouncing
Core Stability Pelvic Tilt
Lack of core control and stability is a key player in lower back pain. When the abdominal muscles are not performing, the muscles of the lumbar spine have to work harder to stabilize the body in balance. An excellent way to improve core stability is to lie flat with the knees bent up. Tighten abdominal muscles and press the small of the back into the floor. Hold this contraction for 10 seconds and repeat 10-20 times. You can either have your arms resting by your sides or behind your head, depending on whats more comfortable. With this stretch, it is important remember:
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Keep your shoulders pressed to the floor, but relaxed
- Do not hold your breath as you perform this exercise
While lower back pain is extremely common, it is not something you have to live with every day. Improving hip flexibility and core stability as well as lengthening the back muscles by stretching can help reduce the symptoms of lower back pain. However, if your back pain is chronic, the above stretches may help but additional treatment may be warranted.
The Standard Spine Stretch
This stretch is ideal for beginners or for individuals who haven’t achieved the flexibility of a yoga master just yet.
The standard spine stretch will help elongate the muscles found near the spinal column. It’ll also positively affect the hamstrings.
Start by sitting on the floor with your feet wide open. Ensure that your feet are wider than your hips.
Now, try to move your head to the open space between your feet. As you go down, dont forget to breathe normally. Also, keep your back straight as much as you can. You dont have to go all the way if you cant.
Just make sure that you do feel a slight discomfort when you reach your limits.
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Knee To Chest Stretch
This stretch can help loosen the muscles in both the front and back of the hips, the groin, and lower back, and it will help your range of motion. The key to getting the most benefit from this stretch is to keep your back in a neutral position. A gentle arch is ok, but you should hold your abdominal muscles tight.
If you cant get your knee up very high, dont force it. You can only go as far as you can go! But if you practice this stretch regularly, youll be able to get a deeper stretch that can help to loosen up your back and hips.
How many: 3 to 5 on each leg.
How often: You can do the stretch every day.
Video: 4 Easy Stretches For Neck And Shoulder Pain
See how to correctly perform the 4 neck stretches listed above.Watch Now
Stretches that are not recommended include neck circles or quickly stretching the neck forward and backward or side to side. These stretches may cause muscles strain or place additional stress on the cervical spine.
See Neck Stretches
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Why Is Stretching Making My Back Pain Worse
Stretching the muscles around the lumbar spine area can aggravate lower back pain. Heres why
The lumbar spine region needs stabilization more than mobilization.
The stabilizing muscles tend to be weak due to our sedentary lifestyle.
Muscles such as the transverse abdominis and multifidus are deep abdominal muscles that act like a supportive belt around your spine.
Stretching lengthens the muscles. If a muscle is weak and lengthened, stretching just pulls the muscle even moreleading to more weakness.
There are a few stretches that are helpful in reducing lower back pain, but theyre not focused on the lower back area.
If youve injured or pulled a muscle, you should refrain from stretching to avoid further damaging the muscle .
The muscle tissue is very sensitive to triggers and overstretching the muscle can lead to more pain and damage.
Stretching And Back Pain
For many people with back pain, stretching can offer relief and help prevent future issues.
Stretching can be one of the best conservative approaches to back pain, says Dr. Fielder. Its non-addictive, cheap, and empowering for people who want to avoid medicines, injections, or invasive surgeries.
Related: 4 Exercises That Prevent Back Pain
While stretching can be an amazing tool for back pain, its not good for all types. People with acute spondylolisthesis, acute fracture, and those with significant disc injuries should refrain from doing certain stretches, and consult a professional before attempting any, says Dr. Kelley.
Stretching can also be helpful for nerve-related back pain. The elongation [of muscle tissue helps take pressure off of the nerve endings and desensitizes them, decreasing pain, says Kelley.
Plus, stretching also helps your mind tackle back pain. Stretching sends adaptive signals to your brain to reduce feelings of discomfort, says Fielder. This can allow more freedom of movement, improve your ability to play with your kids or do your job, and remind your subconscious not to be afraid of movement.
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The Important Benefits Of Stretching For Pain Relief
What if there was an easy way to help ease your pain every day that didnt cost a thing, could be tailored to your needs and could be done in your home? Would you be interested? If so, you need to start stretching for pain relief.
Many people find stretching reduces pain and allows them to be able to do their daily activities, including work. A consistent stretching program can do wonders to increase range of motion and relieve stiffness, thus improving how you feel and even how you look.
If you are not stretching with chronic pain, heres how to get started, how stretching can help you and how stretching has helped others like you.
Benefits Of Stretching For Musculoskeletal Pain
Each joint in the body is designed to move through a specific range of motion. Almost all joints allow for movement in more than one plane of motion .
When our muscles and other soft tissue structures tighten due to inactivity or injury, the joint range of motion is impaired and can result in pain. Motion is âlotionâ for the joints, and stiffness and pain often arise from lack of use. Age-related diseases, such as osteoarthritis and spinal stenosis, can also limit the range of motion due to changes in the joint surfaces or joint spaces.
A daily stretching routine does in fact help to prevent back pain and other musculoskeletal pain by helping to maintain normal range of motion in our joints. Stretching increases the flexibility and length of muscles, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, and scar tissue. It can even help nerves to glide more easily throughout the body and reduce radicular pain . Greater flexibility allows for more joint movement throughout the day and limits compensations at other joints throughout our body.
Stretching can also reduce lingering chronic back pain. One study looking at the effects of exercise programs in people with chronic low back pain found that stretching the hamstrings and lumbar spine significantly reduces pain .
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Avoid Pushing Too Far
Oftentimes, you might fall into the trap of thinking more is better when it comes to stretching. But this is not true if you have low back pain after stretching.
Pushing the stretch farther and farther does not mean that the stretch will work to a greater degree. In fact, when you push the stretch too far you are likely to experience negative consequences.
When you overstretch, especially if the tissue is already aggravated or not conditioned well enough, you are at risk of causing microtrauma and straining the muscle.
Even if you don’t experience structural damage, muscles have stretch receptors within them that provide feedback to the body. When a muscle is stretched too far past its current capacity the stretch receptors send a signal of “danger” back to the body. This signal results in the muscle creating protective contractions so it cannot stretch any farther.
When the muscle is in this protective state, you experience tightening, discomfort and possibly pain, depending on the degree of the response.
Stop Stretching Your Back To Fix Low Back Pain
I cant even begin to tell you how many times I see and hear this, Oh my back really hurts or My back is really tight and the next words are the clincher, I just need to stretch out my back. They then proceed to do a variation of this move, which I got from healthline.com-which they say helps relax you and helps low back pain.
How this strengthens your back Ill never know, nor does this stretch/exercise help the problem.
Yes, it does stretch the back-especially if you do both knees to the chest.
And yes, this is also a common cause of low back pain. Before jumping into some Pavlovian response to fix it with stretching you really should ask yourself,
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Back Pain Relief With New York Pain Care
Physical therapy and spinal manipulation are two of the most effective treatments to relieve lower back pain. Here at New York Pain Care, we understand that patients want to experience relief so they may return to their daily routines quickly. Our board-certified specialists are here to provide one-on-one care and state-of-the-art treatments for all of our patients.
Start living a pain-free life by consulting with a physical therapist at New York Pain Care today. Learn more about our different services for spine and pain by visiting our website. Call us at now to book an appointment.
Tips For Managing Inflammatory Back Pain
These approaches wont cure your condition, but they may help you manage the discomfort and prevent additional injury.
Also see a doctor if the pain is constant, wakes you up at night, and includes leg pain or follows an injury.For less-serious back pain symptoms, the best way to keep them at bay is to stay active, Dreisinger says. The natural response to pain is to do less, but the opposite holds true with back pain symptoms, he says. Thats because exercise helps muscles relax and increases blood flow to the area.Heres expert advice on what might work and wont for your back pain symptoms.1. Dont just lie there.Its tempting to rest until pain subsides, but taking to bed for more than a day or two may make your back pain symptoms worse, according to the National Institutes of Health .
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Supine Figure 4 Stretch
This classic yoga pose helps open up the hips as much as it is good for massaging your low back. “This pose stretches the outer glutes, as well as your piriformis, both of which can contribute to a tight lower back,” says Hilary Wright, Y7 instructor and director of continuing education.
How to do a supine figure 4 stretch: Lie on your back on a yoga mat with both knees bent and feet planted on the floor. Lift your right leg, flex your right foot and cross your right ankle over your left thigh. If this is enough stay here, or draw your left knee in and hold behind your left thigh to increase the intensity. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths and then switch to the other side.
Neck And Shoulder Stretches
Basic stretches for neck pain are convenient enough to be done on a regular basis throughout the day, such as at home, at work, or even in the car. Some examples include:
- Flexion stretchChin to Chest. Gently bend the head forward, bringing the chin toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the back of the neck.
- Lateral Flexion StretchEar to Shoulder. Bend the neck to one side as if to touch the ear to the shoulder until a stretch is felt in the side of the neck. Keep the shoulders down and back in a comfortable but healthy posture.
- Levator scapula stretch. Rest one arm against a wall or doorjamb with the elbow slightly above the shoulder, then turn the head to face the opposite direction. Bring the chin down toward the collarbone to feel a stretch in the back of the neck. It may be helpful to gently pull the head forward with the other hand to hold the stretch for the desired time.
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Symptoms Of Low Back Pain
These might range from a dull ache to a stabbing or shooting sensation. The pain may make it hard to move or stand up straight. Pain that comes on suddenly is âacute.â It might happen during sports or heavy lifting. Pain that lasts more than 3 months is considered âchronic.â If your pain is not better within 72 hours, you should consult a doctor.
Upper Back Pain When Sitting
Many people experience pain in their necks and upper backs as a result of craning forward while sitting to look at a computer monitor or phone display. Although its tempting to sprawl out and watch television for hours, this can also easily throw your back out of alignment.
That uncomfortable feeling of stiffness when you finally do move or stand up is telling you something.
Better posture makes a difference.
Its likely your parents or teachers cautioned you to sit up straight when you were a child, and with good reason.
Sitting in one position too long isnt healthy. Doing it with your back rounded forward, slumped to one side, or leaning too far back can put stress on parts of your spine for an extended period. This can lead to pain, as well as other issues.
To help you sit straighter, position your body along an imaginary straight line extending the length of your back, out of your head, and up to the ceiling. Keep your shoulders level and dont let your pelvis rotate forward. Doing so causes a curve in your lower back.
If you sit up perfectly straight, youll feel the small of your back stretch and lengthen.
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W & Y Stretch & Retract
Targeted muscle: Opens chest muscles & strengthens lower trapsThis exercise both strengthens and stretches all the right posture muscles. And the best thing is that its easy to do it from anywhere even in your office.How to do it: Begin standing with your back straight. Make W shape with your arms. Bend both of arms to about 90 degree angle as you lower them to your stomach area and then squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 2 breaths. Make Y shape with your arms by extending both arms up. Hold for 2 breaths. Hold 1-2 at each end point, Aim for 10 repetitions
Stretching Effectively To Relieve Back Pain
Before talking about specific exercises, its important to talk a bit about proper stretching. Proper stretching requires slow, controlled movements of sustained poses, with attention focused on the muscle being stretched. Its important to avoid bouncing, making abrupt movements or stretching muscles to the point of inducing pain.
Choosing the right time to stretch can also make a difference. Stretching in the morning is a good way to get your blood flowing and to limber up your back for the day ahead. Stretching before bed typically provides a more satisfying sleep and helps you to avoid waking up with back pain the following morning. While these may be the most optimal times, the most important thing is that you stretch every day and use proper form.
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How Stretching Relieves Back Pain
The spine is made up of many small joints, each with multiple planes of movement. As the body ages, the soft tissue structures in the back lose flexibility and elasticity. As a result, the water content of the soft tissues decreases, reducing elasticity and flexibility. Loss of flexibility makes it more difficult to maintain a healthy range of motion in the many joints of the spine. When muscles are tight, movement at joints can be restricted, triggering muscular imbalances, wear and tear on joints, and back pain.
Many studies show that stretching back, hip, and leg muscles can relieve back pain in the short term and the long term and improve function . Stretching has many positive effects on our bodies that combine to reduce pain.
First, stretching increases range of motion while reducing stiffness. Maintaining a consistent stretching routine is especially important as you age, since your body becomes less flexible with the natural aging process. Restoring full range of motion to joints allows the muscles to work more effectively and strengthen. Full range of motion also prevents pain and stiffness from developing.
Additional benefits of regular stretching include improved balance, reduced risk of injury during activity, improved physical performance, and stress relief . Stretching is often accompanied by deep breathing and mindfulness, which have calming effects on the body. Taking the time to focus on your body while you stretch can help to clear your mind.