If you, or anyone you know has experienced back pain, you know what a debilitating condition it can be. Especially as we age, we tend to accept back pain as a normal part of life. However, this isn’t necessarily true and there are ways to avoid back injury. Many times, minor back issues could’ve been easily avoided by keeping the back flexible and strong.
Other painful conditions throughout the body that can stem from low back problems are sciatica, facet joint syndrome, and degenerative disc disease, in which case stretching alone will not help. When this happens, it’s important to visit your chiropractor so the doctor can help assess whether you need a consistent stretching routine or if you need a chiropractic adjustment, non-surgical spinal decompression or massage therapy to get you feeling better fast.
One of the best ways to avoid back pain altogether is to be proactive about your back health. One way to do this is through stretching, and when performed correctly, it can increase your range of motion and improve flexibility helping to avoid back issues before they start.
Before starting any stretching routine, it’s important that you warm up first, which can be done by performing jumping jacks or going for a brisk, 5-10 minute walk.
HERE ARE 6 OF OUR TOP STRETCHES TO AVOID BACK INJURY:
1. PIRIFORMIS STRETCH
You can perform this stretch by lying on your back or by sitting in a chair.
If you’re on your back –
Bend your left knee with your foot flat on the floor. Cross your right leg over your left with your ankle resting on your left knee. Reach through your right leg and lock your fingers behind your left knee and gently pull toward your chest until you feel the stretch through your hips.
If you’re sitting-
Face forward with both feet flat on the ground pointed forward. Bring your right ankle and rest it on your left knee. Hold your right ankle in place with your left hand and gently push down on your right knee with your right hand. Bend away from your right knee until you feel the stretch in your hips.
Repeat these same steps for the opposite side of your body and alternate sides 2-3 times.
2. CHILD’S POSE
The child’s pose is a popular yoga pose that helps to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles as well as the back. It’s called the child’s pose because it’s the perfect pose for beginners and is great for reducing stress and fatigue. Before you attempt the child’s pose, ensure that you do not have any knee injuries as it places pressure on the knees.
To perform this pose, get on your hands and knees. Spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching and rest your buttocks on your heels. If you have tight hips, it’s OK to keep your knees together. Exhale your breath and bow forward resting your chest on top of your thighs. Keep your arms extended with palms down and reach as far as you can through your fingertips. Hold this position for up to a 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times. To release the stretch, use your hands to walk your torso upright and sit back on your heels.
3. SITTING TOE TOUCH STRETCH
Sit on the ground with your back straight, right leg extended, and foot flexed. Breathe in to engage your abdomen muscles and keeping your head aligned with your spine, bend forward slowly while exhaling. As you bend forward, reach as far as you comfortably can towards your toes. Not everyone can touch their toes, so it’s OK to grab your ankles, shin or even knees if you need to. DON’T BOUNCE as it may cause injury. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds and repeat 2-4 times on alternate legs.
4. SUPINE SPINAL TWIST
This stretch really helps to stretch the back muscles. To perform this stretch, lie down on your back and cross one leg over the other. Bend your knees and twist to the side of the top leg, holding the knee in place with the opposite hand while keeping both shoulders flat against the floor. Extend the same arm as the top leg and face the hand. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds then reverse the position. Repeat 2-4 times.
5. PSOAS STRETCH
To perform this stretch, get on your left knee with your right bent and foot flat on the ground. Bend slightly to the right and pull your pelvis forward while raising your left hand above your head with palm up and pointing across your right shoulder. Alternate this stretch 2-3 times per side.
6. SUPINE LOW BACK/PELVIC ROCKING
Lie on your back with both knees bent. Exhale your breath and pull your knees to your chest while wrapping your arms around them. Clasp your fingers and slightly pull your knees as close to you as comfortably possible. Inhale to relax your abdomen and hold the position for 30 seconds. Keep your pelvis firmly planted while in this stretch. Repeat 2-3 times.
Performing a consistent stretch routine will not only help to avoid back injuries, but will also alleviate stress, improve circulation, and increase flexibility. A chiropractor can help you learn more about the different types of of proper stretching to help alleviate current back pain as well as avoiding common back injuries.