Get Into The Habit Of Regular Stretching For Back Pain Relief
Stretching can often be an afterthought but it's one of the best things you can do for managing or getting rid of your back pain.
When was the last time you had a good stretch?
If you're struggling to remember then you need to read on.
Because getting into the habit of stretching regularly is vital for fighting back against persistent back pain.
And it can also help you to stay active too.
As it makes your body more flexible and increases the range of motion in your joints.
But the problem with stretching is it's not always viewed as 'real' exercise and many people avoid doing it in favour of more challenging activities.
And if that rings true for you then you need to have a rethink.
Because stretching is one of the best things you can do to stay free from back pain.
The Benefits Of Stretching For Your Back
We all love a good stretch from time to time right?
And why wouldn't you.
Because it gives you a satisfying and instant release from muscle tension and stiffness.
Which allows you to go about your day feeling loose and happier within your body.
And stretching out your body works to lengthen and strengthen your muscles too.
Which leads to many health benefits such as keeping you flexible, well balanced, supported, strong, and increasing your circulation.
However, on the flip side allowing your muscles to remain inactive and not stretching them out will cause them to constrict and shorten.
Which will make you less mobile, lead to a poor posture, and can cause muscle imbalances to form throughout your body.
And these imbalances are bad news.
Because they force your body to compensate throughout the day, which puts more pressure onto your lower back.
So getting into the habit of stretching regularly is crucial to keep your body (and your back) healthy and functioning well.
For instance, one study in Miami focused on two groups of people with chronic lower back pain who were put onto the same rehabilitation program.
However, one of these groups also had a stretching program added on top of the regular rehabilitation program.
And while both groups showed less pain and better functioning after two weeks of the program, the group that were also stretching regularly made even greater progress.
In fact, they had a greater range of motion and could move and function better than the other group.
So stretching regularly had actually sped up their rehabilitation process.
So why is stretching so good for your back?
Well firstly it increases your flexibility, which give you a greater range of motion.
This will allow you to move around easier and stay active, while also relieving pressure on your back.
Secondly, it improves your posture.
This is because when your muscles are tight your body hunches up into bad positions
So releasing this tightness through stretching allows your body to relax and settle into a healthier posture and this reduces any strain on your back.
Thirdly, it increases circulation.
Which means that more oxygen and nutrients get delivered to your muscles which allows them to strengthen, heal and repair.
And finally by stretching before and after exercise you can greatly lower the chance of injury and picking up any muscle strains.
So pretty good for such a simple activity, eh?
You Need To Stretch Your Whole Body, Not Just Your Back
It's important not to fall into the trap of thinking that you only need to stretch out your lower back area if you have lower back pain.
This is because your body functions as a whole.
And each part needs to be stretched out and working correctly to prevent any compensating or muscle imbalances from developing.
So to reduce your back pain you need to make sure that you regularly stretch out the following areas.
Your Neck & Shoulders
The body tends to hold a lot of stress and tension in your neck and shoulders, which can lead to you adopting a hunched posture.
And this will put your body under more pressure.
Also having tight shoulders limits your movement which can cause you problems when trying to stay active.
So keep your neck and shoulders loose by stretching them out every day.
Your Hips & Groin
Tightness in your hips and groin area can cause so many problems for your back as it forces it to carry more of the load.
And it also limits your range of motion.
Which causes you to overuse the spine as you move around because it's lacking the support it usually relies on from these areas.
So it's vital that you regularly stretch out your hips and groin.
And by doing so you'll also get the added benefit of increasing circulation to all the surrounding areas.
Which can give you a nice additional burst of energy.
As someone with persistent back pain it's highly likely that you also suffer from tension and cramps in the buttocks.
This is because your glutes become overworked when your lower back is under pressure.
And on top of this the glutes area also houses the piriformis muscle.
This muscle is closely linked to your sciatic nerves and can consequently cause sciatic pain when it's tight.
So stretching out the glutes will not only help your back, it will lessen your chances of developing sciatica too.
Just like your glutes, your hamstrings are also very likely to be tight when you have lower back pain.
And tightness in the hamstrings will only increase the load and stress on your lower back.
So it's vital to keep them area stretched out and loose to take the pressure off and give your back more support.
Your Lower Back & Abs
Stretching out your lower back and abdominal muscles helps to keep them strong and supple and able to support your spine.
This will also allow you to maintain a good alignment and healthy posture.
Which is great for relieving pressure and strain on your back as you move around throughout the day.
How To Get Started With Stretching
So now you know you should be stretching on a regular basis, how do you find out which stretches you are supposed to do?
Well firstly it helps to know that there are two important components of a good stretching program, which are static stretches and dynamic stretches.
And it's important to come up with a combination of the two to gain the maximum benefits from stretching.
To help you get started I've put together a stretching guide that covers mostly static stretches in all the areas I've mentioned above.
This comes with easy to follow instructions and photographic demonstrations.
And these static stretches are great to do every day.
In fact, this is my actual daily stretching routine that I do myself at least twice per day and whenever I feel a bit tight and stiff.
And as for dynamic stretches you can find plenty of videos online that can show you what to do.
One great site that is full of them is called Fitness Blender.
These videos are all free to use and you can check out one example above of stretches that are good for beginners.
Want More Intensity? Try This Challenge
If you are finding the beginners stretches too easy and want to take things further, then how about taking a challenge.
As Fitness Blender have a 3-day flexibility challenge below which combines both static and dynamic stretches alongside core strengthening exercises.
This will really get you stretched out and provides a great defence against lower back pain.
As you can give your back greater support and flexibility.
So if you feel ready for more, give it a go!
So I hope that you can now see the importance of regular stretching.
As it will make the world of difference to your back pain.
And it will make you feel so much better too, allowing you to stay active and healthy.
As it will keep your body flexible, strong, and supported, which will really help to minimise your back pain.
Personally, I always stretch myself out first thing in the morning, a few times during the day, and last thing at night before going to bed.
This has really helped me over the years and has kept my back pain at bay.
And the great thing about stretching is that it can be done anywhere, it's free, and it's easy to do.
So, all in all it's a vital activity and habit to get into for anyone who suffers from persistent back pain.