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Low Back Stretches

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woman stretching her low back, low back stretches

About 75% of people will have some type of back pain throughout their life. If you have experienced back pain before you know that it is not fun. Therefore it is important to keep our bodies healthy to maintain proper function, mobility, agility and flexibility.

            If you are experiencing back pain without any prior injury or trauma, more than likely your pain is related to over-stressed muscles. The most common back pain comes from the low back, however neck pain, and mid back pain are frequent as well. The Low back bears the most of our body weight because it holds up the rest of the spine and all of the muscles, organs, tissues and extremities above the waist.

Unfortunately, most people get back pain from poor posture or twisting, bending, or lifting improperly. When this happens the muscles get pulled and go into spasm. Most of the time it is due to weak, stiff, atrophied muscles that are not being taken care of. Muscles are just like the rest of our body, they need proper maintenance i.e. Stretching and exercises to stay firm, and strong. When a muscle spasms it is a sign that it cannot handle the activity that you are trying to accomplish therefore to save the underlying bone, organ and connective tissues it goes into spasm.

Proper body mechanics and ergonomics, the design of the workplace to reduce repetitive stress injuries, is key to avoiding low back pain. Once there is an injury to the spine, re-injury is more than likely to occur. So proper spinal rehabilitation is necessary. Chiropractic care is a specialized alternative medicine that specifically treats spinal problems. In addition to diagnostic testing chiropractic physicians use passive and active physical therapy as well as massage therapy to heal soft tissue injuries, while correcting the appropriate spinal problems.

            In additional to chiropractic care, at home stretching and exercise can relieve pain symptoms and maintain proper body alignment.  Stretching is the most important part of any workout and should be done before and after routines. Although stretching can be considered is own exercise, stretching elongates specific muscle groups to improve and reaffirm muscle tone. Stretching allows the muscles to warm up prior to workout and cool down after exhaustion.

            When stretching the low back, especially after rehabilitation from an injury, it is always important to start out slow. You want to avoid re-injury as well as pulling stiff muscles. Stretching should be a fluid, and gentle, thereby avoiding jerky or violent movements. Do not over exert the muscles on the first day. A gradual progression over several weeks will allow the muscles to strengthen and tone. Always stop if you feel pain or discomfort, don’t continue to push past the pain. Pain is sign that there is a problem so don’t blow it off.

Everything is connected so remember to stretch all muscle groups in the body. Hamstrings although most people wouldn’t know it are involved in over half of back pain symptoms. Why, because the origin of the muscle is attached at the pelvis (ischial tuberosity). When the hamstrings become tight they pull on the pelvis, which causes pinched nerves in the low back. Therefore remember that just because it isn’t located in the low back doesn’t mean it can’t cause low back pain.

To start your stretching stand comfortably with your feet shoulder length apart. Slowly bend forward, and try to touch your toes. If you can’t just reach as far as you can. Hold it for 10 seconds. Then put all the weight on your left foot and bend your right knee forward. Keeping your head down take your left arm and reach it straight up to the sky. Hold for 10 seconds. Then switch to the other side. Next stand close to a wall, table or chair for support. Bring your right heel up to your buttocks and hold it with your right hand, Support yourself with your other hand on the wall or chair so you don’t fall over. Hold for 10 seconds. Release and switch to other foot.  Sit down in the chair, preferably that doesn’t have airs or on the edge of a couch. Bring your right foot up on your left knee so your calf is parallel to the floor. Gently press on your right knee towards the floor. You should feel the stretch in your buttocks. Release and switch to other leg. This stretch can be done several times on each leg. Get down on the floor on all fours. Gently round your back up to the ceiling. Now slowly bring your chest down towards the floor as your head rises to the ceiling. You should feel the stretch throughout the length of your spine. Sit down on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you together. Reach toward your toes and hold for 10 seconds. Bring your legs as far apart as possible and lean towards the left leg, reaching as far as possible to your foot. Hold for 10 seconds. Then switch to your right leg. Hold for 10 seconds. 

These general stretches can be done in any order. All should be done slowly and gently. Do not rush each stretch. Additional stretches can be added in as needed. Remember to breath throughout the entire session. Stretching is recommended to be done daily, when you wake up, before and after exercise and before you go to bed. Gradually your back pain should become a thing of the past and you should feel flexible, and agile.