Back pain was one of the most common muscle-related issues in the U.S. even before people were asked to stay at home due to COVID-19. But now, it’s even more prominent because the population is spending more time sitting at their computers each day, whether they are working, video calling friends and family, talking to their child’s teachers, or organizing grocery delivery. If you find yourself constantly dealing with back pain, you are far from alone, but these quick and easy stretches can help relieve the tension so you can keep focusing on what matters.
This “stretch” is designed to make sure you are sitting in a way that does not place excess stress and strain on your lower back. Often, people slouch, and this causes their head to hang in front of their shoulders. As a result, the muscles of the neck and back have to engage to support the offset weight, and people often naturally lean back to accommodate this. As a result, they “hammock” into their lower back, causing it to overwork and develop pain.
Throughout the day, check to make sure that your ears, shoulders, and hips are lined up vertically. This means your head is being supported by your skeleton, not your back and neck muscles, which allows them to remain soft and supple. Set an alarm on your phone so you check your posture at least once an hour. After a while, it will become a habit, and your back muscles should naturally ease up.
For a more active stretch that engages your lower back, start by laying on the floor. Gently bring one knee up to your chest and hold it there with your arms. Make sure your head doesn’t come up to “meet” your knee. Hold it for about 5 seconds, and then do the same with the opposite leg. This elongates the back muscles, which should gradually help them relax. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat 2-3 times for each leg. You can do this entire sequence twice a day.
Back pain is often a result of the adjacent muscles in the hips and buttocks becoming weak, which forces the muscles in the lower back to do more work to support us. So, strengthening the hips and buttocks can help stop back pain in the long run by helping them not overexert themselves.
To perform a bridge, lay flat on the floor facing up. With your feet also being flat, press your buttocks straight into the air. Hold it for a few seconds, and then gently lower back down. Repeat this sequence 15 times, rest, and then do it all again. This stretches the back muscles while also engaging the ones near it, which will gradually build them up.
Remember to Move!
In this time where we’re spending more hours at the computer than ever, it’s important that you regularly move! Simply getting up and walking for about a minute each hour can go a long way in preventing your back from becoming stiff and painful. And, if stretching and moving don’t seem to help, don’t be shy about contacting a doctor for professional care. Doctors’ offices are actually some of the cleanest places you can visit thanks to their extensive health and safety protocols.
These stretches only take minutes a day, but they can literally save you from hours of pain down the line. They’ll also ensure that when it’s time to leave your home, you can do so comfortably and won’t have to stress about your back.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Tortland is board-certified in both sports and regenerative medicine, and he has decades of experience treating patients for a wide variety of musculoskeletal problems. If you are one of the millions of Americans dealing with back pain right now, he can help you figure out why and provide non-invasive, surgery-free treatments to make your problem disappear and stay gone. To learn more about your options and get the help you need, schedule a consultation with Dr. Tortland today by clicking here.