Stretches are a great way to relieve the muscle tension that is the primary cause of back pain. You should be careful when stretching your back; always keep your spine straight and stretch gently. Don’t force your body or spine when attempting any of these great back stretches.
1. Side Stretch
This stretch stretches your obliques, which are the muscles that run along your sides, as well as the muscles of your shoulders and upper back. These stretches can relieve upper and mid back pain and help you feel more energized. Follow these steps to perform side stretches:
- Stand erect with your feet no wider than your hips. Some people like to hold their feet together, so that they touch each other, while others like to widen the stance somewhat. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re properly balanced and your stanch remains no wider than the width of your pelvis.
- Raise your arms over your head; relax your shoulders.
- Grasp your left wrist with your right hand and lean gently to the right. You can gently pull your left arm to increase the stretch in the left side. Keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet, but allow your pelvis to move to the left, so that your entire body forms a long cresent shape.
- Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds before repeating it on the other side.
2. Torso Twists
While torso twists can be dangerous if performed improperly, when performed properly they can be quite beneficial. Not only do they relieve tension in the muscles of the spine, but they stimulate your internal organs to improve digestion and can even help to remove toxins from your body. Here’s how you can perform torso twists safely.
- Lie on the floor. Extend your legs so that your feet are no further apart than the width of your hips.
- Extend your arms to either side. Your body should form a T shape. Look at your hands to make sure they’re in line with your shoulders.
- Bend your knees and bring them to your chest. Then, lower them gently to one side. Both of your shoulder blades should remain in contact with the floor. If not, try again, but scoot your pelvis a few inches toward the tight shoulder.
- You can gently hold your bent knees with your hand, but allow your spine to twist on its own, without forcing it. Look towards the other hand to bring the stretch into your neck.
- Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
3. Cat Stretch
This stretch affects the muscles of your lower, middle and upper back and can also stretch the muscles of your abdomen. Here’s how to perform it.
- Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your hands are directly below your shoulders and your knees are directly below your hips.
- Arch your back like a Halloween cat. Drop your head and tuck your tailbone.
- For the second part of the stretch, reverse the arch, so that your belly drops towards the floor, while your head and hips lift. Keep your arms and legs steady; just move your torso.
- Repeat this stretch slowly ten times.