5 Back Stretches That Will Help You Prevent Back Pain

One of the main reasons people visit a doctor is back pain, which can result from arthritis, carrying heavy loads, poor posture or even psychological stress. In most cases, the cause is mechanical, meaning not related to an infection, fracture or other serious problem, but back pain can also result from kidney stones, so you should always check with a doctor if you suddenly have back pain stemming from no apparent reason. As long as the problem that causes your back pain is indeed one that is simply related to weak muscles and poor posture, you can eliminate the pain if you regularly perform the following 5 stretches. Because they are easy to perform and don’t require much effort, they are suitable for any age and fitness level, all you’ll need is a stable chair with a backrest, but of course, you should consult a doctor before trying the stretches if you have a severe back problem.back pain

1. Neck and chest stretch

Although people have always bent their heads throughout history, whether to eat or read, today we do so much more than in the past because of the use of smartphones. Bending the head forward for a long time eventually causes neck pain and even leads to upper back pain, but the next stretch will help you relieve the condition by stretching and opening your chest.

The muscles you're working: you’ll be stretching your shoulder blade muscles, trapezius muscles, chest muscles, and erector spinae.

Back and chest stretch

How to do the exercise:

1. Sit on a chair with feet flat on the floor, knees bent 90 degrees and straight back. Place your hands on the base of your head, intertwine your fingers, and place your thumbs along your ears and down your neck.

2. Hold your head back on your hands, so that your face turns toward the ceiling.

3. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, move your left elbow so that it faces the ground, while your right elbow turns toward the ceiling. This movement should be small - you should feel a stretch, but not pain.

4. Take two breaths and return to the initial position with your back straight.

5. Repeat the exercise to the other side, and repeat alternating between both sides 3 times each.

2. Gentle backbend

As we get older, we sometimes start to develop a hunch in our back, and thanks to the fact that we often look down at our smartphones, this process may begin at a relatively young age. Eventually, a bent back may become permanent, which leads to the hump and also causes pressure on the back muscles. You can avoid all this if you perform the next stretch on a daily basis.

The muscles you're working: This stretch activates the spinal extensors, pectorals and anterior neck muscles.

back bend

How to do the exercise:

1. Sit on a chair with your feet firmly planted on the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees. Place your palms on your lower back with your fingers facing down and thumbs wrapping your hips toward the front of the body.

2. Press with your hands on your pelvis/lower back and breathe in.

3. As you exhale, gently arch your back with a movement that starts from the head. You don’t have to throw your head back, just lead with your spine so that the movement affects the upper part of your back as much as possible.

4. Stay in this position for 5 deep breaths.

5. Slowly return to the starting position, and repeat the stretch 3-5 times.

3. Back stretch 

When you look down at a smartphone, this position may feel nice, as if you're resting your head and not straining your muscles, but in fact, it puts a lot of strain on your chest by pulling its muscles in. This may cause pain in the upper and middle back, but the next stretch will help you open your chest while increasing your shoulders’ range of movement.

The muscles you're working: This stretch works on the deltoids and pectoral muscles.

back stretch

How to do the exercise:

1. Sit on a chair with your back straight, knees bent 90 degrees and feet flat on the ground. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, bring your hands behind your back and thread your fingers together. If you can’t do this, try grabbing the forearm of one hand with the other.

2. Take a deep breath again, stretch your shoulders back and down and feel your spine lengthen.

3. As you exhale, straighten your palms as much as possible if they’re clasped. If one hand is holding the other arm, pull the holding hand in the opposite direction, meaning that if you're grabbing your left arm, pull it to the right side.

4. After 3 deep breaths, release your hands and return to the starting position.

5. Repeat this stretch 3 times.

An upgraded version of the stretch

If you performed the stretch but you don’t feel that it is effective, you can perform an upgraded version that involves the entire spine. This stretch can reduce back pain and improve the movement of your back.

1. Follow steps 1 and 2 of the previous instructions.

2. Take a breath and stretch your spine. During the stretch, lean forward as if you are trying to bring your chest to your thighs - keep your back straight.

3. Stretch forward only as much as your body allows you. If you can go down to your thighs. That’s great, but don’t fall on to your legs - you still have to use your muscles to hold your torso in the air.

4. Seated cat-cow 

The area where most people experience pain is the lower back. As the years pass, our spine degenerates and there is a greater chance of suffering from cartilage erosion, leading to this exact pain. When you perform the next stretch, you’ll stretch your lower back muscles and help support your back ultimately making it feel better.

The muscles you're working: Since this stretch involves two poses, it affects many muscles, including the erector spinae, serratus anterior, iliac rib muscle, and abdominal external oblique and rectus abdominus.

seated cat-cow

How to do the exercise:

1. Sit on a chair with feet on the ground and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands on your knees with your fingers facing each other and the base of your palms facing outward.

2. Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, press with your hands on your knees and arch your back with your entire spine. During this position, your face should be facing up, and you’ll feel that you are sticking your buttocks out.

3. Take another breath and as you exhale, roll your shoulders forward and hold your navel as close to your spine as possible as you lower your chin toward your chest and push your knees with your hands.

4. Continue alternating between the stretches 3-5 times for each pose.

5. Gentle twist

Gently rotating the spine provides a host of advantages beyond its reinforcement, such as stimulating the digestive process and circulation along with the abdominal alignment. This is one of the best-recommended stretches for your back, and if you do it a few times a day you can improve your spine’s flexibility and avoid back pain over time.

The muscles you're working: This stretch affects your front shoulder blade muscles, the back muscles, the spinal muscles, and some muscles in the neck.

gentle twist

How to do the exercise:

1. Sit on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent at 90 degrees. Make sure that the chair doesn’t feel like it could tip over or that your unstable while, however, keep some space between your back and the back of the seat.

2. Take a breath, press your body down on the chair, straighten your back and lift your hands above your head.

3. As you exhale, gently rotate your body to the right and place your left hand on the opposite knee and your right hand wherever you feel comfortable - this can be the back of the chair, but don’t use your hand to stretch the body more. Your goal is to feel the rotation stretching evenly throughout the spine, and if you use your hand to rotate your body further this won’t happen.

4. Stay in this position, take a breath and make sure you’re sitting upright. While exhaling, gently tighten the traction.

5. Breathe 3-5 more times before releasing the stretch and do it to the other side. Alternate sides doing the stretch twice for each side.

image source:  healthline

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