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What are the Best Stretches for Back Pain?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 11 May 2018
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It is estimated that at least 50% of the industrialized world suffers from back pain, especially those who work in labor-intensive jobs. Stretching both before and after any type of manual labor or physical activity, including exercise, can help ease back pain and prevent further injury. There are countless stretches for back pain recommended by doctors and chiropractors that can help keep muscles and ligaments in the back flexible and ease tension that may be causing back pain. Some of the best stretches for back pain include back extensions, rolls, cat arches, and bridges.

A back extension begins by lying on the floor, face down, with the elbows propping the body up. The arms are then extended until the palms are flat on the floor, hips remaining in place, and the chest pushing as far out as possible. The stretch is held for 20 seconds and then released slowly with the elbows lowering back to the ground.

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Another one of the best stretches for back pain is a roll, which can not only stretch the back but also massage the spine, thereby helping to ease some pain. To do the technique, lie on the floor, face up, with the feet flat on the floor and knees bent. The hands are then placed behind the thighs and the knees are the pulled into the chest as far as possible. This position is held for up to 20 seconds, at which time one can proceed to roll from bottom to head, massaging the spine.

A cat arch begins by kneeling on a flat surface with the hands palms down on the floor. The back is then arched upwards, head down, and shoulders relaxed, much like a cat stretches after a long nap. This stretch is simple to do and, for many, one of the most effective stretches for back pain.

Often seen in alternative exercise forms such as Pilates, a bridge is another useful means of treating back pain. Start by lying on the floor, with the knees bent and feet flat, while placing the palms flat next to each ear. The body is then pushed upwards until a stretch is felt; the position is held for up to 20 seconds.

With any of these stretches for back pain, it is important to avoid bouncing during the stretch; this can not only cause the stretch to be ineffective but also poses the risk of further injury to the back. Stretches for back pain are most effective when done both before and after strenuous activity in repetitions of 10. While these stretches can be a good way of treating back pain, it is always advised to discuss an exercise regimen with a doctor before starting.

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