A staggering number of people suffer from back pain globally. With the total pushing upwards of 540 million, it's clear that we need strategies to alleviate back in our population. Keeping the spine healthy and supple is essential for pain prevention. Let's look at some of the best stretches you can do from home to ease back pain.
7.5% of the global population suffers from lower back pain.
Sitting down at your desk and having a sedentary lifestyle is a factor in the development of back pain.
Regular stretching can help ease back pain.
You can perform stretches for back pain from the comfort of your own home.
Can stretching help back pain?
In a world where many of us have desk jobs and spend hours sitting every day, stretching can become essential for keeping our spines healthy and pain-free. Having a regular stretching habit can prevent mild back pain from becoming severe.
You don't even have to join a gym to reap the benefits of a stretch routine. You can perform some of the most effective stretches for back pain at home. And, if you work from home, you can incorporate your exercises into the workday.
Taking breaks from your desk to stretch is an excellent way to destress, remain calm and improve your spine's health during working hours. Even five minutes, right before you eat lunch, can help to alleviate back pain symptoms.
Which exercises are best for back pain?
Before choosing the correct stretches for you, you must know where you are experiencing painful sensations in your back. Do you feel it in your lower back? Or are you noticing a burning sensation between your shoulder blades?
As with any new type of exercise, it's recommended that you start gently. If you experience any pain, back out of the posture slowly, and don't push yourself into uncomfortable positions. The idea is to gently stretch out the muscles, not to do further damage.
The following exercises can be performed twice a day. But, if you feel sore or stiff, give yourself time to rest. The body must have time to adjust to the new movements.
Let's take a look at some back pain stretches that target the area you feel it the most:
Best stretches for lower back pain:
A traditional yoga pose stretches your glutes, thighs, and the muscles you use to extend the spine.
This pose is relaxing and calming to the nervous system. It helps relieve pain and tension along the entire spine. Done regularly, it helps loosen tight muscles in the neck and back as well as increase flexibility.
To perform the child's pose, follow these steps:
- Start on all fours, sink your hips back and rest them on your heels.
- Fold forward, hinging from the hip, and slowly walk your hands out in front of you.
- Rest your tummy on your thighs.
- Keep your arms extended, or place them alongside your body with your palms up.
- Breathe deeply and steadily. Send the breath to the places where you can feel tightness, and relax any tension.
- Stay in this stretch for one or two minutes.
This stretch is deeply relaxing. Releasing tension in the hips and thighs helps relieve lower back pain.
To perform the knee-to-chest stretch, follow these steps:
- Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Keep the right knee bent or extend it straight out on the floor.
- Bring your left knee into your chest, hugging behind the thigh or over the top of your shin.
- Focus on keeping your spine straight on the floor and not raising the hips.
- Take long, slow breaths, focusing on relaxing a little deeper with every exhale.
- Hold the posture for up to 1 minute.
- Switch over to the other leg.
Seated spinal twist
Twisting is an excellent way to stretch the hips, glutes, and back. It helps with spinal mobility and stimulates your internal organs.
To perform a seated spinal twist, follow these steps:
- Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you.
- Bend your left knee and cross your left foot over to the outside of your right thigh.
- Place your arm outside your left thigh, extended or bent at the elbow.
- Sit tall and slowly twist to the left, starting at the base of your spine.
- Hold the posture for up to 1 minute.
- Repeat on the other side.
These stretches are great for lower back pain. Regular practice of just a few minutes a day can provide significant relief, plus it's excellent for general spinal health.
Best stretches for upper back pain
Shoulder blade stretch
A fantastic stretch to deeply release the tight points between your shoulder blades.
Doing this exercise regularly will help mitigate some of the postural effects of working at a computer.
To perform a shoulder blade stretch, follow these steps:
- Swing your left arm under your right so that your outer right elbow rests on or beyond the left inner elbow.
- Take your left hand and interlace it around the right arm, forming a bind.
- Keeping your bind, try applying more pressure, moving your forearms further away, or lifting your upper arms higher. These movements will give your shoulders the release they need.
- Hold the posture for up to 30 seconds, then repeat with the opposite arm on top.
Palm to shoulder blade stretch
This incredible upper back stretch targets the muscles in your shoulders and your lats.
Upper back pain is often worsened by hunching our shoulders. This stretch helps to relieve tension in those hard-to-reach areas.
To perform a palm-to-shoulder blade stretch, follow these steps:
- Raise your right arm.
- Turn the palm to face behind you and bend your elbow so your palm rests on your upper back.
- Using your left hand, take hold of the right elbow and gently pull to the left.
- Your palm will slide down your back, and you should feel a lovely stretch down the side body and between your shoulder blades.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
The latissimus dorsi muscles are the largest in your back. If they are tight, you will almost certainly experience pain in your back.
Stretching the lats is a great way to alleviate and avoid pain in the upper back.
To perform an extended side stretch, follow these steps:
- Begin in a standing position and lift your arms above your head.
- Take the left hand around the right wrist and bend to the right.
- Use your right arm to gently pull down on the left, bringing your torso further to the right and increasing the stretch.
- Hold for 10-15 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side, aiming for 2 or 3 sets on each side.
Upper back pain stretches can easily be incorporated into any stretch regime. You can even perform them regularly throughout the day, especially if you have a desk job.
Tip for stretching for back pain relief
Always start slowly and gently.
Pay attention to the sensations in your body as you move into each posture.
Be mindful of your limits. Please don't push your body to do something it's not ready to do.
Notice your breath; you should be able to breathe freely and easily in your stretches. If your breath becomes ragged or shallow - you've gone too far.
Try to do your stretches twice a day.
As you become more supple, increase the time you hold each stretch.
If you feel sharp pains or stabbing sensations, back out of the stretch and speak to your doctor.
Benefits of stretching for back pain relief
These back pain stretches can all be done at home. They are free to do, which is great if you are worried about spending money on massages or gym memberships. Keeping the stretches simple means they are accessible to everyone no matter where they are.
Back pain is a huge global issue, but you can find relief with regular practice of these easy stretches.
- The Good Body. Back Pain Statistics.
- Harvard Health Publishing. The Dangers of Sitting.
- BMJ Journals. Sedentary behavior and life expectancy in the USA: a cause-deleted life table analysis.
- National Library of Medicine. Stretching in the rehabilitation of low-back pain patients.