For anyone who has ever had back pain or issues with their back knows that it can be extremely difficult to live one’s daily life, not to mention an uncomfortable feeling. The back is literally the backbone to keeping a person’s body upright and if it is negatively affected in any way it can lead to some serious health issues. As such, it is important for a person to actively stretch in order to prevent any issues with their back. Areas that are important to stretch include:
Stretching these areas will help ensure that there are no imbalances throughout the musculoskeletal system. One of the main reasons to stretch these areas on the back is that failure to do so will lead to decreased flexibility and may lead to lower back pain. While each stretch may not have the same affect for every person, stretching is still the primary key to avoiding back pain. A stretch should never induce painful symptoms. It should instead help one relieve the lower back pain. Let’s take a deeper dive into the top stretches to minimize back pain.
Lumbar Extension Stretches
A stretch that can be beneficial for individuals who may have a disc herniation, the Lumbar Extension Stretch should be performed with caution for any person who has the pre-existing condition of spinal stenosis or any known fractures in the vertebrae. The Prone Press Up is the main stretch in this category.
Prone Press Up
This exercise begins by the individual lying on their stomach with elbows bent underneath and palms flat on the surface. Keeping one’s hips and pelvis in contact with the surface, one must lift their upper torso off the mat with their arms while keeping back muscles relaxed. One should only go as high as he/she is comfortable. It is recommended to perform 10 repetitions holding each one for 10 seconds each and eventually working up to 30 seconds.
Lumbar Flexion Stretches
In general, the Lumbar Flexion Stretches are beneficial for individuals who have spinal stenosis or some tightness in the lower lumbar musculature. These stretches are relatively simple, but can be extremely effective when performed correctly. The Knee to Chest and Prayer Stretch are the most common stretches in this category.
Knee to Chest
This exercise begins by the individual lying on their back with both knees bent. Next one must bring up one knee towards the chest. One should perform 2-3 repetitions, holding each rep for between 15 – 30 seconds each. As one performs this exercise he/she may feel a stretch along the lower back or buttocks region. This exercise can also be performed with both legs up towards the chest if it is more comfortable that way.
A stretch that helps aid the lower back muscles and spine, the Prayer Stretch is also a very common yoga pose. This stretch starts by sitting back while on your hands and knees so that your buttocks is resting on your heels. Next it is necessary to reach your hands forward to lengthen your spine and feel a stretch in the mid-back. It’s okay to reach your hands to either side to focus the stretch on the opposite side of your spine. This exercise must be held for 10-30 seconds and it is recommended to repeat for 2-3 times.
While many people know that you can stretch a muscle, many are surprised to hear that nerves can be stretched as well. Nerve stretches are important for one to perform if an individual has any radiating pain from one’s lower back into the buttocks or legs. Nerve stretches are also very important to perform after lumbar surgery to ensure there is no scar tissue clinging the nerve to any internal structures. The Sciatic Nerve Stretch is the most common stretch in this category.
Sciatic Nerve Stretch
This stretch follows the pathway of the sciatic nerve and should be performed if the majority of the radiating pain into the legs is felt in the buttocks, back of the leg or through the calf or foot. One can perform this stretch by lying on your back with your hand behind one knee, preferably the leg with the sciatic pain. Next one should straighten the knee and alternate flexing your ankle back and forth. One should hold the ankle in each position for a few seconds. 10 repetitions on each side should be performed.
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