Back pain was already one of the most common musculoskeletal conditions affecting Americans, but due to the pandemic causing people to stay at home and be more sedentary, it has become even more prominent over the last 18 months. Thankfully, you can be proactive when it comes to both relieving and avoiding back pain by incorporating a few daily stretches into your routine. Here are 4 that will help you keep your entire back loose.
Upper Back—Neck Rotation & Shoulder Roll
These two stretches can be done in tandem and target the muscles of the upper back.
For the neck rotation, facing forward, tilt your neck to the right so your head is leaning toward your shoulder, hold for 10 seconds, and then rotate it counterclockwise until it is sitting over your left shoulder. Repeat 2-3 times.
Once you are finished, stand up and let your arms rest down by your sides, and rotate your shoulders backward 5 times. Then, rotate them forward 5 times, repeating the entire sequence 2-3 times.
This is a common sequence in most yoga routines, and unlike other poses, it doesn’t require a lot of strength or flexibility. You’ll want to do this on a yoga mat or carpeted area to protect your knees.
Get on all fours with your palms directly under your shoulders and your knees right under your hips. Next, extend your back upward so that it resembles a cat getting up from a nice long nap. Be sure to relax your neck while doing this (which will cause you to naturally face downward). Hold for 3-5 seconds.
After returning to a neutral position, dip your stomach down so your back arches in the opposite direction, slowly turning your gaze toward the ceiling as you do so. Hold for 3-5 seconds.
Repeat the entire sequence at least 5 times.
Lower Back—Knee to Chest
This is a particularly good stretch for runners because it focuses on the lower back and hamstrings at the same time.
Lay down on the ground facing the ceiling, and then slowly bring your left knee to your chest, holding for 10 seconds. Let it go, and then do the same with the right knee. Repeat the sequence 3 times.
How to Use These Stretches
These stretches are meant to keep your back muscles loose, so it’s best to do them in the morning, right before a workout, or even in the middle of the day if you’re starting to feel stiff. The entire sequence only takes a few minutes to complete, doesn’t require any strain, and should help you feel great almost immediately.
Of course, if your back problems persist despite doing these stretches regularly, then you shouldn’t hesitate to go see a doctor. They can help address any structural issues in your back so that your pain goes away, and then these stretches can ensure that the relief will endure for years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Tortland is a double board-certified clinician in both sports medicine and regenerative medicine. He has treated thousands of athletes over the years dealing with all types of back pain, and he’s able to help using tried and true methods as well as state-of-the-art techniques like PRP and stem cell therapy. To learn more about what he could do for your back pain, schedule an appointment at Valley Sports Physicians today.