Muscle Strain Or Sciatica
Muscle strain is often the cause of back pain from heavy lifting or vigorous exercise. But sometimes itâs due to small jelly-filled disks meant to protect the space between vertebrae. When one of these disks bulges or breaks, it can push on a nerve. When itâs the sciatic nerve, pain runs from the buttock down one leg. This is sciatica.
The Advantages Of Stretching
- Stretching relaxes and lengthens the muscles of your spine. While stretching your back is important for back pain relief, full body stretching can relieve tension you may be holding, which can cause other muscles to work harder to compensate.
- Stretching increases circulation, which means that your tired muscles get a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients. Your circulatory system can also clean up muscle waste and dead cells that may not be moving out of the area efficiently.
- Stretching can bring drastic improvement to aches and pains, and can even help you eliminate them
- Stretching warms up your muscles and can help prevent injury. For this reason, it is important to always stretch before beginning a physically demanding activity.
- Stretching can encourage your body to strengthen weak muscles, which can help relieve pain.
- Stretching can minimize and prevent back spasms and stiffness, as well as be used to treat piriformis syndrome. This occurs when the piriformis muscle grows too tight and weak, which can cause pressure on your sciatic nerve.
Stretching And Strengthening Are Key To Healing And Preventing Back Pain
If you suffer from back pain, the range of treatment options can feel overwhelming. The right choice for you depends on what is causing your pain as well as the physical and other demands of your life. For many people, back problems clear up with little or no medical intervention within a few weeks.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything while you are deliberating over treatment options. There’s a lot you can do to ease your pain and speed your healing. An exercise program designed to stretch and strengthen your back and core muscles can help you heal from a bout of acute back pain and help prevent a repeat episode.
Developing a suitable exercise program best done under expert supervision will help you build strong, flexible muscles that will be less prone to injury. If you have acute back pain, the goal of an exercise program is to help you resume normal activities as soon as possible and to remain symptom-free going forward. If you have chronic back pain, work with your physician to define your desired functional goal, whether it involves being able to take a tour of European museums, play with your grandchildren, or simply sit comfortably.
Weak back and abdominal muscles can cause or worsen low back pain. That’s why stretching and strengthening your back and abdominal muscles are important not only for treating low back pain, but also for helping to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
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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 To Relieve Back Pain: A Practical Guide
At this very moment, there are tens of millions of people wishing there were a magical cure for back pain. After all, back pain is the single leading cause of disability in the world, with experts estimating that upwards of 80% of the population will at one time or another experience back pain. Further, Americans alone spend an estimated $50 billion per year on back pain.
While no one magical cure exists, for many people suffering from back pain, there is an easy and inexpensive way to find relief from back pain. Its exercise, and this is a comprehensive guide to exercise for back pain relief.
An exercise program for back pain is one that must be carefully undertaken. When done in a controlled and gradual manner, exercising can help keep the ligaments, discs, muscles, and joints of the back healthy. However, when done in an uncontrolled and overly aggressive manner, exercising may worsen back pain or cause new injuries.
A successful exercise program for lessening or eliminating back pain has three components: low-impact aerobic exercise, stretching and strengthening. Though the back is obviously the focus of the majority of the exercises, the program will work the entire body in order to improve overall strength and health, which will positively impact the spine.
If you have a pre-existing back issue or any other health condition, you may want to consult with your doctor before beginning an exercise program.
Low-Impact Aerobic Exercise for Back Pain Relief
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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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Tips To Begin Stretching
Stretching can be a gentle form of pain relief, but it can take some practice to become effective. Poor form can also cause injury, so it is important to use a mirror or a spotter to help you learn the correct form when learning new stretches. Here are some other tips to help you get started.
- Wear comfortable clothing that wont restrict your movements.
- Never force a stretch or position. Stretching should be gradual and gentle, and never painful. If you are struggling with a position, use stretching aids such as yoga blocks, cushions, or stretching bands to help your progress.
- Move slowly into a stretch, and never bounce in the stretch. This can cause muscle tearing. Instead, slowly move into the stretch until you are unable to stretch further without pain, hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, and move back out of it to rest. Stretches should be performed with 2-5 slow repetitions. Most muscles reach maximum elongation after 4 repetitions
- Stretch one side of the body at a time.
- Stretching can take time to see improvement. It may be discouraging to see no noticeable results after several sessions, but it can take several days or weeks for improvement to occur. Develop your routine and improvement will come.
- Consult your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, including stretching. Working with a trainer or experienced individual can also help you develop good form and habits, which can prevent injury.
Specific Upper Back Stretches For Back Pain Relief
By: Leon Turetsky , Last Updated: September 23, 2021
If you experience back pain in your upper back and neck area it is most likely caused by poor posture.
But no worries, we identified the muscles that are tight on most of the population and listed specific upper back stretches below to help you release them, lessen your back pain and increase your mobility.
The following stretches will target theses muscles:Upper trapezius
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What Are Some Effective Stretches That Help With Pain In The Low Back
Most guidelines typically state to hold stretches for 30 seconds and to perform 2-4 repetitions on each side . Described below are 8 low back pain stretches:
Pelvic Tilt: Lie down on the back. Bring the knees up but keep the feet down. Tilt the pelvis . Hold this contraction for 10 seconds and repeat 5 repetitions.
Trunk Rotation Supine: Lie down on the back. Bring the knees up but keep the feet down. Rotate both knees to one side, while keeping the upper body flat . Hold that stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 2 sets. Perform the same stretch, but with the knees on the opposite side.
Trunk Rotation with Leg Crossover: Lie down on the back. Have one leg straight out and on the floor, while the other leg is at a 90 angle. Pull the leg from the knee region across the body. Hold that stretch for 60 seconds. Repeat with the other leg .
Hamstring Stretch with a Strap: Lie down on the back. Keep one leg with the knee up and foot down. The other leg is the one being stretched. Put a strap on the palm of that foot. Be sure to have the leg straight and extended and bring the foot towards the body . Hold stretch for 60 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.
Prone Press Up : Lie down face towards the floor. Press up using the arms while making sure the hip and legs are always in contact with the floor . Hold stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Home Remedies For Lower Back Pain When Sitting
In addition to improving your posture when sitting, try these at-home remedies for lower back pain:
- Change your position. Consider a standing desk or one thats ergonomically designed to help you maintain good posture by allowing you to adjust the height of your monitor.
- Apply ice.Cold helps reduce inflammation that may be affecting your back. Leave the ice pack on for about 20 minutes, and then remove it. You can do this every hour or so.
- Use a heating pad. After any inflammation is under control , many people find heat soothing. It also promotes healing by bringing blood to your back.
- Take over-the-counter medication.Pain relievers like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can reduce discomfort and swelling.
- Use a support. Placing a rolled-up towel or special lumbar pillow at the base of your spine while sitting will help you remember to sit up straight and provide you with some stability.
- Get a massage. This can help loosen and relax tight muscles.
- Consider yoga.Yoga is known for its ability to stretch and strengthen the body. Many programs allow for modification of the poses as needed.
There are several exercises that will help strengthen your lower back. Try these three stretching exercises to help make your back stronger and better toned:
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Lower Back Stretches To Reduce Pain And Build Strength
Lower back pain is a fairly common health concern, as so many things can cause it.
In some cases, it might be a symptom of an underlying condition, like kidney stones or acute pancreatitis. Other times, its simply a side effect of a sedentary lifestyle or repetitive motions.
While stretching isnt a remedy for all lower back pain, in many instances, it can provide relief. If youve been living with some mild discomfort or stiffness, these seven stretches may help reduce the pain and strengthen the muscles in your lower back.
Tips Before Starting A Stretching Routine
As with any kind of exercise, its important to treat the body with care. Remember that a good stretch puts pressure on the problem areas, but its not supposed to cause sharp pain. Be mindful of the bodys limits and pay attention to proper breathing.
Here are other tips to maximize the exercises effects without causing further harm to the body:
- Wear comfortable clothes that wont restrict movements.
- Prepare the right materials for exercise, such as a yoga mat, yoga block, and foam roller.
- Dont force the body to follow painful and difficult positions.
- Follow every step slowly to prevent muscle strain.
- Perform the exercises on clean and flat surfaces that wont restrict movements.
- Hold the poses for at least 10 seconds to improve the bodys range of motion.
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Designing A Stretching Routine
The first step in developing a stretching program that is right for you is to talk to a healthcare professional and seek a referral to a musculoskeletal expert. Always consult with a musculoskeletal expert to determine if a new stretching or exercise routine is appropriate for you.
Physical therapists and PM& R physicians are particularly well-placed to manage your care when it comes to new exercise routines. After obtaining a thorough history including present symptoms and prior interventions, a physical therapist will clinically assess any movement restrictions associated with your back pain. Theyâll then design an effective stretching and strengthening program that is tailor-made for you.
There are three main types of stretches that a physical therapist may include in your stretching program. These are static stretching, dynamic stretching, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, or PNF stretching.
Static stretching is performed with the limb in an end-range position, where the muscle is maximally stretched or lengthened, and is held for a certain amount of time, usually 30 to 60 seconds . This form of stretching is what we think of as traditional stretching and is most effective after physical activity or a dynamic warm-up when the muscle is âwarmâ.
Benefits Of Stretches For Back Pain
How can a stretch for lower back pain or upper back pain be beneficial?
- : Decreasing pain and discomfort is the main goal for many people who take up stretching. Research has shown that stretching can help increase the range of motion in the spine and relieve pain.
- Improved posture: Bad posture can be a contributing factor to back pain. Slouching can cause your lower back, shoulders and neck to feel tense and stiff. Improving your posture through stretching can help you stand taller and relieve some of the discomfort you feel in your back.
- Greater range of motion: When you think of stretching, you probably think of flexibility. Over time, flexibility does improve flexibility and range of motion. With a greater range of motion, you might find you can more easily participate in physical activities because you feel stronger.
- Protection from future injury: Ultimately, the more you stretch, the more you get out of it. If you maintain a regular stretching routine, youll get short-term relief from back pain while building the foundation for preventing future injury and discomfort.
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Mobility And Flexibility Exercises
These exercises improve range of motion in your hips and spine. That can alleviate tightness that could be contributing to back pain, Carina says.
Do stretching exercises as often as needed to help control pain, at least two to three times daily. Remember, exercise should be comfortable. If any symptoms occur, see a medical professional.
Lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, rotate the knees from side to side in a small comfortable arc of motion. Begin with only small movements, making the arc progressively larger as is comfortable. You should feel a comfortable stretch in the lower back and waist area. This can also be done with the feet and knees about shoulder width apart, which moves the stretch lower into the hips. Repeat 10 to 20 times on both sides.
Knee to Chest
Lying on your back, pull one knee into your chest using both hands behind the knee. You should feel a comfortable stretch in the lower back and hip. If you feel pain in the front of the hip, discontinue exercise. You can keep the bottom leg flat or bend it with your foot flat on the floor, whichever feels more comfortable. The exercise also can be done with both knees hugged toward the chest, but move one leg into position at a time. Hold 10 to 30 seconds, and repeat two to three times.
Outer Hip Stretch
Hip Flexor Stretch
Back Pain Stretches And Exercises
Want to give your sore back some relief ? Work these stretches into your daily routine.
One antidote to back pain costs nothing, requires no equipment or membership and can be done right where you are even from the chair where youre sitting: exercising and stretching the back. When you exercise and stretch, you improve spine mobility and stability, which helps protect you from injury. One caution, though, says Carina Abrams, a physical therapist with Sutter Physical and Hand Therapy, Davis: Its vital to maintain proper body mechanics and posture throughout your activities.
Some exercises that help one spine heal may aggravate another, she says. If you feel pain during or following exercise or any other activity, seek help from a physical therapist or another member of your medical team to help you address the issue and select the most appropriate exercises for you.
Here are Carinas top picks for exercises to stretch, strengthen and protect your back and spine.
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