Many people who suffer from chronic back pain or wake up with achy or sore bodies decide to incorporate spine-stretching exercises into their daily regimens. Some believe that stretching the spine on a regular basis also prevents back pain. There are many types of spine stretches, and they often are included in yoga poses, Pilates poses and warm-up routines. The key is to improve spinal flexibility and strength to help the overall body core. The most common types of spine stretches include twisting movements, side bends and full back stretches.
There are many twisting motion spine stretches that aim to release tension in the back muscles and strengthen abdominal muscles. They can be from seated positions, standing positions, prone positions and supine positions. One common yoga twisting position to help with bad backs is the Bharadvajasana pose, in which the person sits sideways on a chair with the right hip aligned against the back of the chair, then turns the shoulders toward the chair back to align them. Another popular twisting posture is for a person to lie on his or her back, bring the knees to the chest and slowly alternate lowering the knees to each side of the body.
Side bends are spine stretches designed to help with the erector spinae, the many small fibers located on the spine, and with the oblique muscles. The person stands with the feet shoulder-width apart and an arm stretched overhead, then slowly leans to each side. This type of stretch also can be done with dumbbells to add weight and resistance. Yoga and Pilates poses tend to have practitioners doing this type of stretch with the back up against a wall to ensure proper alignment.
Full back spine stretches help to release tension throughout the entire back and shoulders, especially aiding with lower back pain. One way to achieve this deep stretch is for the person to stand with his or her back to the wall and feet shoulder-width apart, then to lean into his or her shoulders. The stomach muscles are drawn in, and the person slowly bends at the knees until the lower back is resting against the wall.
One of the most effective and popular spine stretches is called the cat pose, or mid-spine stretch. The person positions himself or herself on the floor on all fours, with the hands under the shoulders and the knees lined up under the hips. The person keeps the hands on the floor and slowly leans back in order to bring the hips over the feet. This stretch can release tension from the shoulders down to the lower back.