Whether you work a desk job, do manual labor, or spend your days running after children, chances are you have experienced back pain. Sometimes it can feel like there is no escape from it, especially when you are unable to make it to a chiropractor right away when your pain flares up. The good news is that there are a few things we can do to get ahead of our back pain. While maintaining a healthy diet and exercise is obviously a great start, stretching is also an essential part of maintaining the health of your spine.
Stretching is an easy way to keep your back flexible and strong. It can help increase blood flow and decrease blood pressure. It also helps to reduce the risk of injury during day-to-day activities as well as during your exercise routines. It’s easy to forget that stretching is such an important part of our health, but we should try to remember that maintaining flexibility is just as important as strength training when it comes to muscle health. With only a few minutes every day, you can improve the health of your spine and give yourself a boost in relaxation.
If you struggle consistently with lower back pain and stability, starting off with an easy stretch might be right for you. The child’s pose is simple and relaxing. While kneeling on the floor, lean forward and press your palms into the floor until you feel the stretch in your lower back and glutes. Keep your breathing nice and even and try deepening the stretch by pushing further when you feel comfortable doing so.
The piriformis is a muscle behind the gluteus maximus that assists in the rotation of the leg. If irritated, it can lead to the compression of the sciatic nerve, which can lead to a painful condition called sciatica. To stretch the piriformis, lie on your back with your knees bent and cross one leg over the other and pull your knee toward your chest. Repeat this on the other side to make sure that your body is evenly stretched.
While laying on the floor, pull your right knee up to your chest until you feel the stretch in your back and leg. Repeat this on both sides, and follow it by pulling both legs to your chest at the same time. This helps to stretch your lower back after it’s been dealing with the compression most of us put it through on a daily basis.
Sit on the floor with your legs crossed, making sure that your hips are even. Make sure you aren’t sitting on your feet or slouching to one side. Twist your torso to one side with both arms on one side, and hold for thirty seconds. You should feel this stretch in your mid-back. Repeat on both sides.
On your hands and knees, form a tabletop position. Your back should be parallel to the ground. Stretch your stomach toward the floor so that your back dips downward while your shoulders and hips remain at the same level. Then, arch your back and let your and shoulders follow the curve of your spine to form the cat pose. Hold each pose for twenty seconds to help your spine relax and decompress.
Your hips are just as important to your spinal health as the rest of your back, and it’s important to keep them flexible as well. To do the butterfly stretch, sit on the floor with the bottoms of your feet together and press your knees to the floor. You should feel your groin muscles stretching fairly easily. Be careful not to push your knees too far into the floor to avoid accidentally pulling a muscle.
The pigeon stretch is a great stretch to relieve pain from the sciatic nerve and other painful low back issues. While sitting on the floor, put your right leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle, with your left leg bent behind your so that your inner thigh is pointed downward. You should be able to feel the stretch through your hips and low back. If you need to deepen the stretch, work toward extending your back leg fully behind you (like a half split). Repeat this on each side to stay evenly stretched.
An old classic, the overhead stretch is great for relieving pain in the shoulders and upper back. Put your right hand in the air and lean to the left, bending from your natural waist. Hold for thirty seconds and then repeat on the left side. You should feel this stretch through your shoulders and lats.
Foam Roller Stretches
There are a myriad of different stretches and exercises we can do with a foam roller, but one main stretch comes to mind immediately when it comes to back stretches that is easy and relaxing. Lie on top of the foam roller so that it is aligned with your spine, supporting you from your head to your tailbone. With your knees bent, spread your arms open with your palms facing upward. Hold for one minute. Then, bring your hands together above you to end the stretch. Try repeating this a few times to really get the benefits of this stretch.
A lot of us tend to neglect stretching as part of our fitness routine, however, it is important to remember that not stretching can be just as detrimental to our health as not exercising. Try to stretch after each workout, and before bed to help you establish a regular routine of stretching. Doing so will help you to relax at the end of a long day of work and help you avoid painful muscle cramps and soreness. If you are unsure what kind of a stretch to do to help your specific back issue, talk to your chiropractor for more information. They will be able to help you find the right stretch to help you stay ahead of your back pain and prevent injury.