Stretching is very important in relieving back pain for several reasons:
- 1) it improves your flexibility, which in turn allows your back to move through its natural range of motion painlessly,
- 2) it sends necessary nutrients to the tissue along the spine that keep your muscles from getting stiff and weak, and
- 3) it helps to prevent further injury to the back.
Some of the recommended yoga and pilates exercises involve stretching, and listed below are a few more stretches that will benefit the back. There are a couple of things you should remember about stretching. First, you should not feel pain when you stretch. If you do, you have gone too far so ease up a little. Stretch only as far as you comfortably can, hold it for about ten seconds, and then slowly release the stretch. And second, dont bounce. Move smoothly and slowly. If you jerk or bounce your body, youre likely to injure it.
HAMSTRING STRETCH: It might seem strange to stretch your leg to relieve back pain, but actually, the upper leg is important to the support of your lower back. Increase the flexibility of your upper leg and youll be helping your lower back. Some hamstring stretches put a lot of strain on the lower back so try this one: Lie on your back and bring your right knee towards your chest. Put a towel around your right foot, hold the two ends in each hand, and try to straighten the foot as far as you can. Repeat with the left leg. When you an easily accomplish this, try some harder hamstring stretches:
- 1) Sit in a chair and place legs straight out in front of you resting on another chair. Try and touch toes.
- 2) Lie on the floor with the buttocks against the wall. Place the foot up against the wall and then try to push the knee straight one leg at a time, and
- 3) Bend over at the waist, with legs straight, and try to touch your toes. Hold this stretch.
LOWER BACK STRETCH: Lie face down on the floor with hands on each side of your head, elbows on the ground, and feet shoulder width apart. Slowly lift your body off the floor so that only your forearms and toes are supporting you. Contract your buttocks and extend your right arm straight out in front of you. Hold this position for ten seconds, and then switch arms. Do the same with your legs; return your forearms to the floor and extend first your right and then your left legs straight out behind you. Work up to extending your right arm and left leg at the same time, holding for ten seconds, and then switching sides.
MIDDLE BACK STRETCH: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, arms extended out to your sides parallel to the floor, and knees slightly bent. Slowly twist to the right side until you feel the stretch in your back. Do not twist quickly or so far that you feel any pain in your back. Hold for ten seconds and then twist to the left side.
UPPER BACK STRETCH: Stand in the same position as with the middle back stretch. Interlock your fingers and extend your arms as far out in front of you as you can, palms turned away from your body. Keep your upper back relaxed and you will feel this stretch in your shoulder blade area.