“My back hurts.” These three words are said by coworkers, family, and friends; almost everyone we interacted with will say these at some point. As people age, degenerative changes in the spine are common. As a result of these changes, there is less space between the vertebrae, which can aggravate back pain. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, which is necessary for maintaining joint range of motion. Muscles shorten and become tight without it. With that being said, it’s important to know why stretching is important for your back.
Benefits of back stretching exercises for you:
Reducing tension in muscles supporting the spine; tension in these muscles can worsen pain from any number of back pain conditions
Improving range of motion and overall mobility
Reducing the risk of disability caused by back pain
A few tips to keep in mind before you get started:
Wear comfortable clothes that will not restrict your motions.
Stretching should be pain-free, so don't force your body into painful positions.
Slowly ease into a stretch, avoiding bouncing, which can create muscle strain.
Stretch on a clean, flat surface with enough space to move around freely.
Stretches should be held for at least 15 to 30 seconds to lengthen muscles.
Repeat a stretch between 2 and 5 times.
One side of the body at a time should be stretched.
These exercises will provide you with the relief you've been looking for! However, it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider before beginning any new stretching exercises.
Knees to Chest Stretch
The knee to chest stretch is used to stretch the muscles in your hips and low back (lumbar spine). It should also help relieve pressure on spinal nerves by making more room for them as they exit the spine.
Here’s how you can do it: Lie on your back with both knees bent. Next, grab behind one knee and gently pull the knee towards your chest until a comfortable stretch is felt in the lower back. Hold 20 seconds then return to starting position. Repeat 3 times on each side and perform 2 times per day.
Supine Twist Stretch
The glutes, chest, and obliques are stretched in the Supine Spinal Twist. It's called a heart opener because of the chest stretch. It helps digestion and promotes spinal mobility. This antidote to sitting and hunching overwork will help your posture in everyday life.
Here’s how you can do it: Lying on your back, bring your arms out to the sides with the palms facing down in a T position. Bend the right knee and place the right foot on the left knee. Next, exhale drop the right knee over to the left side of your body, twisting the spine and low back. Look at the right fingertips. Keep the shoulders flat to the floor, close the eyes, and relax into the posture. Let gravity pull the knee down, so you do not have to use any effort in this posture. Then, breathe and hold for 6-10 breaths. To release: inhale and roll the hips back to the floor, and exhale the leg back down to the floor. After that, repeat on another side.
Prone Bridging Stretch
If you're looking to strengthen your core, consider the prone (facing down) bridge or plank. This is a one-of-a-kind workout because it is performed in a static position. There are no motions that are repeated. The prone bridge helps to strengthen the lower back as well as various upper-body muscles. If you're new to exercise, begin with a modified form of the prone bridge and work your way up to the full bridge.
Here’s how you can do it: Starting from lying flat on your stomach, lift your upper body with your arms so that you are resting on your elbows. Hold this position for 5 secs and then extend both arms while arching your back and hold for 10 seconds.
Supine Butt Lift Stretch
The supine bridge is an excellent gluteus maximus exercise. While the glutes are the primary target, the supine bridge also works the thigh, hip, core, and back muscles.
Here is how you can do it: Lie down on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Next, as you slowly lift your bottom off the floor, push down through your feet. Hold for a total of ten seconds and lastly, return to your original starting position.
These simple spinal movements are a great method to warm up the body for more difficult postures while also relieving mid-back tightness.
Here’s how you can do it: Begin in a table pose on your hands and knees with a neutral spine. Next, lift your sit bones upward, press your chest forward, and allow your belly to sink as you inhale and move into cow pose. Then, lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and look ahead. Come into cat pose as you exhale, rounding your spine outward, tucking your tailbone in, and drawing your pubic bone forward. Allow your head to fall toward the floor, but don't tuck your chin into your chest. Most importantly, simply relax.
Seated Forward Curl Stretch
This stretch works your abs, quads, and calves. It stretches the hips, hamstrings, and lower back. These same muscles are frequently tight and sore after sitting at a desk for several hours. The forward fold stretch stimulates the digestive, urogenital, nervous, and endocrine systems as well.
Here’s how you can do it: First, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Next, curl your neck, upper back, and low back forward until your chest is resting on your thighs and your hands are touching the ground. Hold for a total of ten seconds. Then, return to the beginning position and repeat.
The intercostal muscles are stretched and strengthened with the side stretch exercise. These are the muscles found in the area between the ribs. They aid in the stability of the ribs.
Here’s how you can do it: Raise your right arm overhead and reach to the left with your upper body. Maintain a straight upper body as you bend; don't twist it to the side. Next, make sure the muscles all along your side, from your lower back to your shoulder, are gently stretched. Maintain the stretch for 20 seconds.
The piriformis is a tiny muscle in the glutes that runs diagonally. It's one of the hip's external rotators, and it can get tight if you spend a lot of time sitting, driving, or climbing stairs. The sciatic nerve, which runs through the piriformis, can be irritated by an inflamed piriformis.
Here’s how you can do it: First, lie flat on your back with one knee bent. Next, cross the ankle of the opposite leg across the bent knee. Then, pull your knee across to your chest and hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat the action with the other leg and repeat for each leg 3-5 times.
A strong core reduces the likelihood of injury and pain. And if you have low back pain, you must strengthen your core! That is why the Pelvic Tilt exercise is so important. It activates your intrinsic core stabilizers, allowing your core to work while your low backrests.
Here’s how you can do it: You will roll back onto your back with your knees bent. You should imagine pushing your belly button into the ground or squishing something with your back flat on the ground. You can try to push your back into your hand by placing your hand under the curve of your back. While performing these exercises, make sure you are breathing normally and not holding your breath.
This is an excellent stretch for the muscles in the middle and lower back. If your lats (latissimus dorsi), shoulders, and chest are tight, it can stretch them out. The prayer stretch can help to improve the lumbar range of motion, reduce low back pain, and prevent future back pain and injuries.
Here's how you can do it: Tuck your legs beneath you and sit back on your heels, bending forward at the waist and stretching your arms out over your head onto the floor in front of you. (The purpose is to increase lower back muscular length.) Return to a sitting position after 30-60 seconds and repeat 3-5 times more.
Movements that lengthen the spine, stretch the front and back of the body, and strengthen muscle to enhance posture are similar to medicine for relieving aches and pains. By simply performing these stretches once a day, you may help minimize your back discomfort and increase general flexibility! :)