According to the American Chiropractic Association, back discomfort is the second most prevalent reason patients contact their general practitioners for treatment (ACA).
Back discomfort can be caused by a number of factors, including arthritis, carrying around excess weight, having bad posture, or even physiological stress. According to ACA, the majority of cases of back pain are caused by mechanical factors, which indicates that the pain is not caused by an infection, fracture, or any other serious concern. Back discomfort that originates from the internal organs, such as kidney stones or blood clots, is a condition that occurs far less frequently.
This suggests that avoiding or treating back pain in the comfort of one’s own home may be an option in a significant number of instances. More than that, one of the most effective strategies to avoid back discomfort completely, especially as we age, is to continue to move in supported ways while keeping our postural muscles strong and our spine pliable. This is especially important as we age. Stretching is all that is required to accomplish all of this. If you are experiencing back pain at the moment, you should consult your primary care physician or a physical therapist before attempting any of these stretches.
It is recommended that you perform all of the exercises listed below while seated in a strong chair, such as a hefty dining room chair, and to avoid doing them in an armchair if at all possible. If you are sitting on a surface that is more firm, it will be much simpler for you to maintain correct posture. There is no need for any other necessary equipment. You need to be sure that when you begin, your feet are securely planted, your knees are bent at a right angle, and you are sitting squarely in the seat rather than on the edge of it.
1. Stretching The Chest And The Neck.
Even before the predominance of screens in our lives, people still regularly jutted their chins forward or down in order to read (when we look at our plates), to eat (when we gaze at our food), to drive, and in a variety of other activities. This results in pain in the neck and can also contribute to pain in other sections of our back and spine, most commonly in the upper and middle spine. The action described below not only helps alleviate this pain but also extends out the chest, which, as a result of poor posture, might feel constricted and needs to have its opening restored.
Worked muscles include your scapulae and trapezius muscles in your neck, as well as your pectorals and erector spinae. Moreover, this stretches your obliques and gently works your pectorals and erector spinae.
- Begin by sitting down, placing both feet firmly on the ground, and sitting up straight. Position your hands so that your fingers are entwined and your thumbs are going by your ears and down your neck. Rest your hands at the base of your skull. (With your head resting in your hands, this is the quintessential “relaxed, laid back” stance.)
- Put your hands behind your head and slowly tilt it back so that you are looking up at the ceiling.
- Inhale deeply. As you let the air out of your lungs, move your left elbow so that it points more toward the ground, and move your right elbow so that it points more toward the ceiling. Your neck will be stretched in a supported manner using this. Please take note that this should be a simple action; therefore, if it is a tiny movement and your elbows barely move an inch or two, that is perfectly OK. It shouldn’t hurt, but rather feel like a nice, comfortable stretch.
- Take two slow, deep breaths, then slowly bring your body back to a neutral position with your spine straight.
Repeat on the other side, this time pointing your left elbow toward the ceiling and your right elbow toward the ground. Do this action three times on each side, switching sides as you work through the exercise.
2. Backbend From A Seated Position.
As we get older, our upper and middle backs, also known as the thoracic and cervical spines, start to curve forward even more. This is partially due to our chins jutting out or down, as was discussed previously, and also to the frequency with which we engage in this motion throughout the course of our lives. It is possible for this to become our “normal” posture, in contrast to our “lazy” posture. This not only contributes to the hunch that is frequently associated with advancing age, but it also has the potential to induce strain in the muscles of our back. This simple backbend has the potential to alleviate some of that stress.
Your spine extensors, anterior neck muscles, and pectoral muscles will all get a workout from this particular stretch.
- Beginning in a seated position with your feet planted firmly on the ground, bring your hands to your lower back with your fingers pointing in a downward direction and your thumbs wrapped around your hips and facing front.
- Inhale deeply while pressing your hands firmly into your hips and lower back.
- When you are exhaling, slowly arch your back, making sure to start with your head. Please keep in mind that you do not want your head to fall back too far. You do, however, want to lead with your cervical spine, and so lifting your chin up and turning your face to the ceiling is a nice way to start off in a gentle manner. The backbend should involve the upper and middle back as well as the lower back.
- Keep this position for five complete, deep breaths.
- Repeat the movement three to five times while returning to the neutral starting position in a gradual and gentle manner.
3. Reach Back.
The range of motion in your shoulders will increase thanks to this stretch, and your shoulders and chest will also benefit from the stretch. It is possible for us to experience a pleasant sensation, similar to that of resting into a slouch, when we sit or stand with our shoulders stooped forward. On the other hand, this causes stress in our chests since we are drawing those muscles inward. As a result, we avoid using those muscles, which can lead to discomfort in our upper and middle backs. The exercise that follows helps to enhance shoulder extension while also working the muscles that support the back and chest.
Worked muscles include your anterior deltoids as well as your pectoral muscles, both of which are nicely stretched by this exercise.
- Take a seat with your back in a neutral position and your feet firmly planted on the ground. Take a long, deep breath in, then as you let it out, stretch your hands behind you and link them together. Note: If you are unable to interlace your hands, you might try to grip each other’s wrists or elbows instead.
- Take a few more deep breaths, and as you sit up straighter, you should feel your spine getting longer. You should move your shoulder blades down your back as you roll your shoulders forward and backward.
- If your hands are locked together, release your grip on them and slowly straighten your arms as you exhale. Your upper back will become more open as a result of this action (if your hands are not joined, gently pull in opposing directions).
- After taking three long, deep breaths, release your clasp and go back to the starting position.
- This should be done three times.
You Can Upgrade It.
You are able to lengthen the stretch and engage more of the spine if what came before was comfortable and did not feel like it was putting anything under strain. In addition to increasing the mobility of your spine, it may also help decrease discomfort in other areas of your back.
- Beginning with the stretch described above, get into position with your hands clasped behind your back or grabbing opposing wrists or elbows. This will prepare you for the subsequent stretches.
- As you breathe in, you should feel your ribs expanding and your spine lengthening. Maintaining that feeling in your spine, slowly lean forward at the waist as if you were bringing your ribs to your thighs. This will help you get into the correct position.
- Just push yourself as far as it seems comfortable. If you are able to lower yourself all the way to your thighs, that is great; nevertheless, you should not let yourself fall upon your legs. You should continue to use your postural muscles in order to keep yourself in this position while stretching your chest, shoulders, and back.
4. Seated Cat-Cow.
A significant number of persons report experiencing pain in their lower back. Spinal degeneration and osteoarthritis are two conditions that are much more common as people get older. When we have bad posture, it is not uncommon for some of us to stand with a “flat pelvis,” which can result in quite a bit of lower back discomfort. This is another typical cause of lower back pain. The Cat-Cow exercise is beneficial for stretching the muscles in the lower back, as well as engaging some of the core muscles and maintaining a healthy spine.
The following muscles are targeted: the erector spinae, the serratus anterior, the iliac rib muscle, the abdominal external oblique, and the rectus abdominis. This exercise also stretches these muscles because it is a mix of two poses.
- Place your hands on your knees with your fingers pointing in toward each other and the heel of your hands on the outside of your legs. Ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the ground, and that your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Inhale, then as you exhale, arch your back by pressing into your hands and using your full spine to create the arch. This indicates that your face will be directed upwards, and you should have a sensation similar to that of pressing your butt out behind you.
- As you take another breath in, roll your shoulders forward and bring your bellybutton toward your spine. At the same time, drop your chin toward your chest and drive your hands toward your knees.
- Reverse the motion with your next breath by lifting your chest through your arms, arching your spine again, and pressing down into your legs rather than toward your knees. This will help you get a deeper stretch.
- Repeat this carefully, focusing on your breath, anywhere from three to five times.
5. Gentle Twist.
The gentle twisting of your spine has several health benefits, including improving digestion and circulation as well as the toning of your abdominal muscles; nevertheless, it is also one of the most effective types of stretches for treating lower back pain. In addition to this, even performing a few simple twists throughout the day will assist increase spinal flexibility, which in turn can help prevent future episodes of lower back discomfort.
This stretch engages a variety of your muscles, including the serratus anterior, erector spinae, and rhombids, in addition to some of the muscles in your neck (such as sternocleidomastoid and splenius capitis).
- Once more, begin by ensuring that both of your feet are firmly planted on the floor and by bending your knees to a 90-degree angle. Move your seat forward just a hair and settle in. You don’t want to have the sensation that the chair is going to tip forward or that you’re unstable on the seat, but you also want there to be a little bit more space behind you.
- As you take a breath in, press your weight down into the seat beneath you, sit up straight with your spine elongating, and raise your arms above your head.
- When you are releasing your breath, slowly swivel to your right and place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Position your right hand wherever it is most natural for you. This could be on the seat or back of the chair; nevertheless, you should not use that hand to “crank” your twist any farther. If you use your arm power to twist yourself more forcefully, you run the risk of injuring yourself and of one area of your spine twisting more forcefully than the rest of it. You want to feel the twist equally through all of your spine.
- Maintain your twist and, as you exhale, feel yourself sitting up taller than before. As you exhale, twist just a bit deeper.
- Before gently releasing the twist and continuing with the exercise on the opposite side, take three to five deep breaths. Switch between the two sides so that you can stretch at least twice on each one.
You can alleviate back pain at home with a few basic stretches, and they can also help you avoid back discomfort in the future. This double benefit is a great way to use stretching! Avoiding movement simply makes these problems worse, making our muscles weaker and frequently causing discomfort as a result. As we age, our muscles become shorter and lose their flexibility. Our muscles also lose their suppleness. By regularly stretching our backs and chests, as well as keeping the joints in our shoulders and backs mobile, we can reduce the amount of pain we experience, improve our posture and our range of motion, and keep our quality of life at a higher level.
Always make an appointment with your primary care physician if you experience any new pain, particularly pain that is piercing, shooting, or inhibits your ability to take in a full breath. Overuse, poor posture, and carrying additional weight are the most common causes of back discomfort.
Position yourself so that you are lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Put your left ankle on top of your right thigh, and your right thigh on top of your left ankle. After that, position your hands so that they are behind your left thigh. Pull your left knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch in that muscle. Maintain this position for anywhere between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
Relax as you move your belly button down to your thighs by gently bending forward at the hips. Grab the towel to assist you in bringing your belly button closer to your legs while maintaining a straight back position. You should stretch until you feel a slight strain in both the back of your leg and the lower back of your body. Maintain this position for ten seconds, then take a break for thirty seconds, and do this three times.