According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience back pain on occasion, so it’s common to seek a backache cure. Just be careful—many gadgets and supplements on the market are pricey and won’t get you results. What does work is going back to the basics—back stretches can help a stiff, sore back.
This series of stretches can help back pain and make you feel better and more mobile. Don’t expect overnight success—your back needs time to re-adjust to muscle groups that have weakened from either overuse or underuse.
When you’re experiencing a stiff back, neck pain usually follows. These exercises focus on the neck and shoulder area, which will need stretching out too. Start out slow with perhaps five reps on each side. Work your way up to more—slowly; you don’t want to exacerbate your problems by pulling a muscle or creating more pain.
As you stand or sit, bend your head forward while moving your chin toward your chest until you feel a stretch in the back of your neck.
Lateral Flex Stretch
Bend your neck to one side as if you were bending your ear to your shoulder. You should feel a stretch in the side of your neck. Switch and stretch the opposite side.
The morning is usually the worst time of day for those with back pain. These exercises will help you regain flexibility, increase your range of motion, and decrease your pain over time.
Back Flex Workout
Lie on your back, pulling both knees toward your chest. Flex your head until a comfortable stretch is felt in the back.
Again, lie on your back. Bend your knees, keeping your heels on the floor. Place both hands behind one knee, bringing it to your chest.
You might not think of the hamstring muscles as having anything to do with back pain, but they can certainly help. The hamstrings run through the back of each thigh muscle. Tightness in this area affects the pelvis, increasing low back stress and affecting posture.
These hamstring exercises will, over time, lengthen the hamstrings. Apply pressure to the hamstrings for 30 to 45 seconds per session, once or twice per day.
Avoid doing hamstring workouts in conjunction with other exercises; instead work on them when you wake up and before bed.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
While standing, bend forward at the waist, allowing your arms to hang. Keep your back as straight as possible. Stop when you feel the stretch in the hamstring.
Sitting Hamstring Stretch
Sitting in a chair will put less stress on your back, and is a good idea if you’re having too much pain to stand.
Place your legs out in front of you, keeping them straight, and on another chair. As in the standing stretch, try to reach your toes. Another option is to do one side at a time.
Hamstring Stretch with a Towel
Lie on the floor, pulling your legs up and straightening them out with the help of a towel wrapped behind each foot. Again, you can choose to stretch one leg at a time.
Lumbar Spine Extensions
Lumbar spine extensions work well for those with herniated disks; however, use caution if you have spinal stenosis or a known vertebral fracture.
Prone Press Up
Begin by lying on your stomach, elbows bent beneath you, palms flat on the floor. Keeping your hips and pelvis in contact with the surface and your back muscles relaxed, lift your upper torso off the mat with your arms. Only go as high as you’re comfortable. Perform 10 repetitions, holding each one for 10 seconds, eventually working your way to 30 seconds.
Knee To Chest
Lie on your back bending both knees. Bring one knee up toward your chest, doing two to three reps for 15 to 30 seconds (whatever you’re comfortable with). You should feel a stretch along the low back or butt. You can also do this with both legs at the same time.This is a good stretch if you have spinal stenosis.
Back pain is some of the worst pain one can experience, and also the most frustrating. But back stretches are some of the best ways to help keep you flexible and in less pain!
- “Back Pain Facts & Statistics.” American Chiropractic Association. American Chiropractic Association
- Ullrich, MD, Peter F., Jr. “Stretching for Back Pain Relief.” Stretching for Back Pain Relief. Spine Health.com