Back pain is a common problem, and despite common belief that it is only a problem for the elderly, people of all ages experience back problems and back pain. One reason for this is the fact that we go through our days without ever stretching our backs before we jump into action. Most people jump right out of bed and get on with their day without any thought as to their bone and muscle health. Failure to properly stretch the muscles before exerting them leads to most injuries occurring within an hour or so of waking. That being said, there are some stretches you can do both right when you get up, and throughout the day to prevent back injuries and ease back pain.
Lower Back Stretch #1
This stretch can be done before you even get out of bed. It works the lower back and helps to prevent lower back injuries and treats back pain that is associated with the lower back region.
To do this stretch, lay flat on your back with your legs extended out and your toes pointing upward. Slowly bring your right knee up to your chest and hold it in place with your hands. Next, slowly bring the left knee up to your chest and hold both knees in place. Slowly pull the knees closer and closer to the chest and hold for 20 seconds or so. Then, relax them.
Although this stretch is called the neck stretch, it works well to diminish back pain. Remember that the spinal cord runs up the neck, and back pain can be associated with this upper region as well. Stretching the neck can prevent neck injuries, but it can also prevent upper back injuries and assist in alleviating upper back pain.
To do this stretch, sit on your buttocks with your legs lightly crossed. If you cannot cross your legs, you can sit in the butterfly position as well. From this position, take your right hand and put it on the opposite (left) side of your head. From there, clamp your hand a bit and pull your head toward the right shoulder. Be sure not to raise your shoulder to meet your head, but instead bring the head down to the shoulder. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds before allowing for your head to return to the upright position. Once you’re finished with the right side, do the opposite side.
The spinal twist is a good overall back stretch, and can be done right after finishing the neck stretch. To do this stretch, stay seated, but this time bend the knees and place the left leg over the right so that the left knee is pointing upward and the right is on the ground pointing outward. From there, take your right arm and place it on the outer side of the left knee. Then, place the opposite hand flat on the floor and use this hand to push as you slowly twist your body to the left. Twist the entire body, including the head, shoulders, and mid-section. Hold the stretched position for 10 seconds or so, release, and repeat on the opposite side.
The pelvic tilt is a very common stretch, and it’s great for addressing lower back pain. To do this stretch, lie on your back with your arms and hands at your side. Your hands should be palms down on the floor. Bend the legs at the knees so that your knees are facing upward. Slowly tighten the muscles of your abdomen, pushing the small of your back downward to touch the ground. The goal is to get the small of your back flat. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds and release. Repeat this about 10 times.
Piriformis Muscle Stretch
The Piriformis muscle stretch works on the piriformis muscle in the back and leg. To begin this stretch, lie flat on your back. Next place the left leg all the way over the right until the knee is touching or close to touching the ground on the right side. This will cause your buttocks and hips to tilt and slightly come off the ground. From this position, pull the knee up to the chest as much as possible. Hold this position for 30 to 35 seconds and release, returning to the lying flat position. Repeat this 5 times before switching sides.