When you experience back, or neck pain, one of the best things you can do for your condition is back exercise as part of a physiotherapy program. Stretches prescribed by a doctor or physiotherapist for the back muscles, ligaments and tendons can really help.
What are the Benefits of Back Stretching?
- Stretching your back benefits you in many ways, including:
- Reduces tension in muscles that support your spine
- Improve mobility and range of motion
- Reduce the risk of back pain-related disability
Although stretching your back can provide some momentary relief, long term benefits come from a back stretching and exercise program, such as one recommended by your physiotherapist. Chronic pain relief requires months of routine stretching. The best way to help your back and get the most benefit from stretching is through a physiotherapy program combined with at home exercises.
Tips for Stretches to Relieve Back Pain
At the point when you endure chronic back pain, you need to effectively stretch your back muscles in a manner that avoids further injury. Keep the following tips in mind when doing these stretches:
- Wear comfortable, non-restrictive clothing
- Do not force difficult positions
- You should not feel pain from the movements
- Avoid bouncing, which can strain muscles
- Move into each stretch slowly
- Perform your stretches on a large clean, flat surface
- Extend muscles and hold the stretches for at least 15 to 30 seconds each
- Repeat each stretch two to five times
- Work each side of your body in turn
Shoulder and Neck Stretches
If you experience pain or tightness in your shoulders or neck, below are some exercises that target these areas. Do them intermittently throughout each day. You can perform these simple stretches at home, in the office or even in the car.
The flexion stretch involves pressing your chin to your chest. Very gently bend your head down, pulling your chin into your chest. You should feel extending in the rear of your neck.
Lateral Flexion Stretch
This stretch is “ear to shoulder.” Hold your shoulders in a healthy posture with your back straight, shoulders down and back. Bend your neck gently and slowly to each side, pulling your ear toward your shoulder. Do not shrug the shoulder to the ear. Do one side at a time, feeling the stretch in the opposite side of the neck.
Levator Scapula Stretch
Hold one arm against a wall or door frame. Your elbow should rest just above shoulder height. From this position, turn your head to face the opposite way. To feel stretching in the back of your neck, bring your chin down toward the collarbone as you twist. To hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, you can use your free hand to gently pull your head into position.
Remain toward the corner of a room, where two walls meet. Hold one forearm on each wall, elbows at shoulder height. Lean forward to stretch. You should feel a slight pulling under your collarbone.
To avoid straining muscles or injuring your cervical spine, there are some stretches that physiotherapists do not recommend. These include neck circles and quickly stretching your neck in opposite directions, such as from side to side, forward or back.
Lower Back Stretches
Stretches to relieve lower back pain include:
Back Flexion Stretch
Rests on your back on the floor. Pull your knees into your chest while pulling your head forward at the same time. You should feel this stretch in your mid-back and lower back.
Knee to Chest
Lie down on your back with your knees bent. Ensure both heels are squarely on the floor. Place your hands beneath one knee and pull that knee to your chest. This stretches your buttocks muscles, specifically the gluteus and piriformis.
From a kneeling position, move one leg forward and rest your foot flat on the ground in front of you. Keep your weight evenly supported by both hips. With your hands on top of the forward thigh, lean gently forward to feel stretching in the front of your opposite leg. You should feel this stretch in your hip flexor at your pelvis.
Piriformis Muscle Stretch
Lying on your back on the floor, bend both knees and place your feet flat. Then lift one leg and cross the other, to rest your ankle on the bent knee. From this position, pull the bottom knee to your chest. You should feel this stretch in your buttock.
These are just some of the stretches your physiotherapist can recommend for your lower back. If you have limitations in your movement, the therapist can adapt the stretches to your capabilities. They may also incorporate the use of a wall, door frame or chair to provide stability as you stretch.