Start implementing these strategies when you’re no longer in a “flare-up”. Works wonders to improve that daily, nagging back pain that is annoying enough to slow you down.
But first, if you missed out on Part 1, fear not! You can catch up by clicking here – Back Pain Be Gone: Discover 7 Evidence-Based Strategies – Part 1 . Where we showed you how to strengthen your back, let’s now delve into the importance of stretching and its role in promoting a pain-free back.
Discover how targeted stretching exercises can effectively alleviate tension, improve flexibility, and promote optimal spinal alignment.
Increase your Flexibility
- Muscles around a painful joint often spasm as a self-protection strategy (even if an ineffective one!). For this reason, gently increasing the flexibility of the muscles around your hips is important to prevent a significant loss of motion.
- Try the exercises below. Remember, you should feel a gentle stretch but no increase in pain. If it’s painful, stop and consult your physical therapist.
- Stretching Exercises for Back Pain. See examples below!
Stretching Exercises for Back Pain:
1. HAMSTRING STRETCH
Start lying on your back. Straighten your right leg down to the floor, and bend your left knee so your foot is flat on the floor. Loop the strap around the right foot. Lift your right leg off the floor, bringing your toes toward your head until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg. Keep a slight bend in the right knee. Hold for 5 deep breaths and lower back down slowly. Repeat 3 times per side.
2. HIP FLEXOR RELEASE
Stand in front of a sturdy chair or table. Step up with your right leg, keeping your left foot on the floor. Bend into the right knee, pushing the hips forward, and reach both hands overhead until you feel a stretch through the front of the left hip. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3 times per side.
Start a Walking Program
- Walking circulates fluid, flushes out toxins, and lubricates joint surfaces.
- Start with 10 minutes per day 6-7 days per week.
- Walk briskly at a 3 to 3.5mph pace (walking a mile in ~20 minutes).
- Slowly increase your daily walk time by 5 minutes each week until you’re able to walk 30 minutes per day.
- If walking increases your back pain, you likely have tightness, weakness, or misalignment that’s causing your back to flare up. Consult with your physical therapist so they can perform a movement assessment and determine the issue.
Develop a Weight Loss Plan (if your BMI is higher than 25)
- Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement that is used to determine weight categories that may cause health issues. A higher BMI than normal for your height means you’re putting more strain on your back than necessary.
- Not sure you’re your BMI is? Use the CDC’s BMI Calculator here.
- When your goal is to lose weight, a combination of healthier eating and exercise Is recommended. (Need a starting spot? Check out Noom.)
- If exercise is painful, a physical therapist can help you problem-solve exercise strategies that don’t hurt. Water aerobics is a great exercise alternative.
Know the Misconceptions about Back Pain
- “Rest is Best”
Don’t stop moving! You’ll get weaker which makes things worse. Pain-free movement is helpful for a variety of reasons. Lubricate your joints with movements that don’t exacerbate your pain.
- “The more I move, the more wear and tear my back has to endure.”
This is only true if you’re wearing the wrong way. It’s similar to your car being out of alignment. Yes, your tire treads wear down over time, but if you’re wheels are out of alignment, the tread will wear out more quickly in places you don’t want it to. Hiring a PT is similar to hiring a mechanic to check your car’s alignment and suggest ways to get you rolling down the road again (pain-free).
When you look at the literature on back pain and read the recommendations from the top medical organizations, there’s no arguing that going through a round of physical therapy is the quickest and most cost-effective way to decrease your back pain and get back to enjoying life again.
You could be one session away from relief.
Want to talk to a PT first before booking an appointment?