If you are experiencing back pain, you know that it can be a constant presence in your life. But if you have some time set aside each day, you may be able to perform some simple stretches that can either sooth existing back pain or proactively reduce or mitigate it. For best results, you should consult a healthcare professional to determine what stretches or physical therapies are best for your condition. But in the meantime, here are ten stretches you may try to help with back pain:
Begin by lying face down on your stomach; legs should be together and extended. Plant your palms on the floor, on either side of your head while keeping your elbows and forearms flat on the ground. While making sure your hips remain on the ground, slowly push your upper body up, keeping the weight on your forearms. The idea is to gently stretch your lower back, along with your abdominals. Once you have achieved this stretch, hold for about ten seconds, then relax your head back to the floor. Repeat the stretch five times.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Lie flat on your back. Slowly bend your right knee, pulling the knee toward your chest. Reach with your arms and lace your fingers around your right thigh, knee, or shin, depending on your desired comfort and flexibility. Gently pull the knee to your chest. This is meant to stretch your lower back, along with the muscles in your bottom and the back of your thighs. Once you have the stretch, slowly lower your leg back to the ground. Repeat the stretch five times for each leg.
Upright Standing Tilt
Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms resting by your sides. Raise your right arm straight above your head, with your fingers extended and your palm facing your head. Keeping your feet in place, slowly tilt your upper body to the left until you feel the stretch running down your right side. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds, then gently stand back upright and lower your arm back to your side. Repeat the stretch five times for each side.
Lying Knee Twist
Lie flat on your back. Slowly bend your right knee, pulling it toward your chest until your thigh is almost perpendicular with the rest of your body. At this point, gently cross your knee across your body, so it is reaching toward the ground to your left. You should feel the stretch in your back and in your right leg/buttock. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds, then slowly roll onto your back, so it is again flat on the floor, and lower your right leg back to the floor as well. Repeat the stretch five times for each side.
Happy Baby Rock
Lie flat on your back. Slowly bend both knees, so they go in the direction of your armpits. Go as far as you can while maintaining your back’s contact with the floor. Extend your hands and grab each foot, while keeping your arms wrapped around the outer side of each leg. Gently rock side to side, so you are lifting alternating sides of your back. You should never roll to the point where your weight causes you to fall to any one side. Maintain this slow rocking motion for about fifteen seconds. When finished, gently release your feet and slowly lower your legs back to the ground.
Cat and Cow
Get on your hands and knees, with your palms flat on the floor lined below your shoulders, and your hips situated directly above your knees. Inhale a deep breath, and while doing so gently round your back, so it rises toward the ceiling. Hold this stretch for about ten seconds. Then give a long exhale, while doing so gently arch your back toward the floor, so it is your tailbone and chest that is stretching toward the ceiling. Again, hold the position for about ten seconds. Slowly alternate this stretch of your spine for five repetitions.
Piriformis Seated Stretch
Sit on the ground with your back straight and your legs extended in front of you. Cross your left leg over your right, bending the knee and planting your foot by your right thigh. Slightly rotate your torso to your left, planting your left hand behind your buttocks for support. Reach forward with your right hand, placing the palm on the left side of your left knee. At this point, gently push with your right hand to rotate your torso’s twist toward your left even further so you can feel a stretch in your back and spine. Hold the stretch for about ten seconds, then slowly rotate your body back to facing forward, uncross your legs back to extending in front of you. Repeat the stretch on the other side of your body, repeating the action three times for each side.
Seated Figure Four Stretch
Sit on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Plant your palms slightly behind you for support. Cross your right leg over your left, so your right ankle is resting on your left thigh. While keeping your back straight, gently lean forward, so you feel the stretch go down your back and right leg. Hold the stretch for about twenty seconds, then return both feet to the floor. Repeat on the other side.
Prone Leg Lifts
Lie face down on the floor. Clasp your hands together and rest your forehead on them. Keeping your legs and especially knees straight, lift your feet toward the ceiling about 1-2 inches. Hold this stretch for about five seconds, then lower both legs back to the ground. Repeat this lifting stretch five times.
Get on your hands and knees, with your knees just slightly wider than hip distance apart. Turn your feet inward, so they touch each other. Bend your knees and rest your weight backward, so you are assuming a comfortable seated position on your feet. At this point extend both arms forward into a relaxing stretch. Hold this position for about twenty seconds, then return back to your hands and knees. Repeat the stretching pose three times.
If you set aside some time each day, you can take steps to prevent back pain or begin to soothe already existing pain. At its worst, back pain can make you feel like you have lost control of your life. Consult your doctor to discuss ways you can take it back.