MOST people experience back pain at some point in their lives, and the underlying reasons are varied. Personal trainer and fitness instructor Gisel Harrow said that two of the most common culprits of constant and severe back pain are age, poor posture and injury. Fortunately, she says these pains often improve with a combination of stretches.
“Lower back pain affects a large number of people; about 80 per cent of people experience it at one point or another. As a person gets older, often the spine will experience degenerative changes. As these changes occur, there is less space between the vertebrae, which can increase back pain,” Harrow explained.
Back pain may also be triggered by tight hip flexors from sitting for long periods at a time. Harrow said that improving hip flexibility and core stability as well as lengthening the back muscles by stretching can help reduce the symptoms of lower back pain. Below, she shares some stretches that can help to ease the discomfort of back pain.
Knee to chest stretch
To stretch the hamstrings, lower back and glutes, lie on your back with one knee bent, and one leg straight. Place your hands behind the leg and pull back towards your chest until a light stretch is felt down the back of the leg. You can also place your hands over the bent leg on the shin or knee and pull towards your chest. Hold for 30-60 seconds, switch legs, and do the same thing. Repeat three to five times for each leg.
Lie flat on your back with one knee bent. Cross the ankle of the opposite leg to be stretched over the bent knee. Pull knee across towards the chest and hold for 30-60 seconds. Switch legs and repeat the same action. Repeat three to five times for each leg.
Tuck legs underneath the rest of your body, then sit back on the heels and bend forward at the waist, extending arms out over the head onto the floor in front (the goal is to get length in the lower back muscle). Now hold for 30-60 seconds and sit back up. Repeat three to five times.
Begin with your hands and knees on the floor, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Your spine should be parallel to the ground in this position. Then round your back while stretching your mid-back between your shoulder blades and hold for five seconds, then relax and let your stomach fall downward as you gently arch your lower back and hold here for five seconds. Repeat these movements for 30 seconds or longer.
Begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Try to relax your lower back, keeping it in a neutral position (which means you should feel a slight curve in your lower back if you place the top of your hand under your back). Engage your core muscles and then flatten your lower back against the floor by slightly tilting your pelvis upward. Repeat 12 to 15 times.
These stretches for back pain have additional benefits such as:
•Reducing tension in the muscles supporting the spine. If or when there is tension in these muscles this can exacerbate back pain.
•Stretching improves your range of motion and overall mobility.
•It also reduces your risk of disability caused by back pain.