Every now and then as we get older, we experience pain. One study by researchers at the University of North Carolina reported that more than 80 percent of people will experience an episode of back pain at some point in their life.
And it’s not only your body that loses, but your wallet also loses too. Turns out that the total costs of back pain conditions are over $100 billion per year, according to the report.
It’s possible to experience back pain when you’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s, according to Dr. Tingan who is the Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania.
But it’s also possible to experience it at a younger age, and that shouldn’t be a point of concern. However, if your pain lasts for 12 weeks or longer, it might be helpful to visit your doctor.
What causes back pain?
Like most things, our bodies are not perfect. Our lower back (where we tend to have the most pain) has five vertebrae, which supports a good part of our upper body weight.
“The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Ligaments in our bodies (tissues) hold the vertebrae in place, while tendons connect our muscles to the spinal column. But there’s more:
“Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain.”
This is why as we grow older (think more movements), our spines tend to deteriorate in some ways.
A study mentioned lifestyle as one of the factors that can cause such back pains. The good news: there are simple stretches if we want less back pain.
Stretching for less back pain
Back pain can be debilitating at times and we seek out interventions like surgeries, heavy-duty pain killers and go the extra mile for personal massages. But all we need for less back pain, sometimes, is a simple stretch to make it all go away.
Not only will regular stretching help loosen the muscles and get rid of back pain causes, but it can also strengthen the back — and lower your chances of dealing with back pain in the future.
If you’re currently dealing with back pain, it will get you back to tip-top shape in no time.
And by incorporating regular stretching into your fitness routine, you’ll strengthen your back — making it less likely you’ll have to deal with an injury or chronic pain in the future.
When it comes to back pain, regular stretching is a win-win. Here are a few simple stretches for less back pain you can do anytime.
1. Core Stability – Pelvic Tilt
Lack of core control and stability is a key player in lower back pain. When the abdominal muscles are not performing, the muscles of the lumbar spine have to work harder to stabilize the body in balance.
An excellent way to improve core stability is to lie flat with the knees bent up.
- Tighten abdominal muscles (as if bracing for a punch to the stomach) and press the small of the back into the floor.
- Hold this contraction for 10 seconds and repeat 10-20 times.
- You can either have your arms resting by your sides or behind your head, depending on what’s more comfortable.
With this simple stretch for less back pain, it is important to remember:
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Keep your shoulders pressed to the floor, but relaxed
- Do not hold your breath as you perform this exercise
2. Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis is a small muscle that runs diagonally through the glutes. It is one of the external rotators of the hip and will become tight in people who spend significant time sitting, driving, or climbing stairs.
An inflamed piriformis can irritate the sciatic nerve which passes through it. To perform this stretch, lie flat with one knee bent.
- Cross the ankle of the opposite leg to be stretched over the bent knee.
- Pull knee across towards the chest and hold for 30-60 seconds.
- Switch legs and repeat the same action.
- Repeat 3-5 times for each leg.
3. Single Knee to Chest
Hip tightness is a frequent contributor to lower back pain.
- To stretch the hamstrings, lower back, and glutes, lie on your back with one knee bent, and one leg straight.
- Place hands behind the leg and pull back towards your chest until a light stretch is felt down the back of the leg.
- You can also place hands over the bent leg on the shin or knee and pull towards your chest.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds, switch legs and do the same thing. Repeat 3-5 times for each leg.
4. Prayer Stretch
Tuck your legs underneath, sit back on the heels and bend forward at the waist, extending arms out over the head onto the floor in front.
(The goal is to get the length in the lower back muscle). Hold for 30-60 seconds and sit back up. Repeat 3-5 times.
5. Hamstring stretch
When you spend a large portion of your time sitting, the back of the legs gets tight. This would cause pulling of the back when bending forward.
- Begin sitting on the floor with one leg straight, and the other bent.
- While maintaining a flat back, lean forward by hinging from the hip until a stretch is felt behind the thigh.
- Repeat on the other leg.
- Hold each stretch for 10 seconds, repeat 5 times. Thi s is one of our favorites for less back pain.
6. Cat-camel back stretch
Begin on all fours. Arch your back towards the ceiling and hold. Then arch your back towards the ground and hold.
Hold each stretch for 5 seconds, repeat 10 times. This stretch helps maintain mobility of the spine while strengthening the back and abdominal muscles.
7. Flexion rotation
The flexion rotation exercise helps stretch your lower back and buttocks.
- Lie on your right side with both legs straight. Bend your left leg, hooking your foot behind your right knee.
- Go on to grasp your left knee with your right arm and place your left hand behind your neck.
- Slowly rotate your upper body backward by touching your left shoulder blade to the floor. You should feel a mild stretch in your lower back.
- Repeat the rotation stretch 10 times, holding each stretch for 1–3 seconds before slowly moving out of the rotation.
- Repeat the same process on your left side.
Simplify your life with simple stretches for less back pain.