Stretching and exercise are critical to ensuring physical fitness throughout the body, but one area that’s often overlooked when working out is the back. Tightness in different areas of our bodies negatively impacts balance in our musculoskeletal system, the center of which is the back. Many people – even athletes – can sometimes overlook the importance of the back until they experience the pain. This refresher course on exercises, stretches and tips will help you avoid back issues or minimize those that do arise.
Exercises to Avoid and Ease Back Pain
Back Flexion: Lie on your back on a mat and pull both knees to your chest as you reach your chin forward. You should feel a comfortable stretch in this balled-up position. Hold for a few seconds and then release. Repeat 3-5 times.
Knee to Chest: Recline on your back with both knees bent and heels on the floor. Clasp your hands behind one knee and raise it to the chest; hold the position for 5-8 breaths. Repeat with the other knee.
Standing Flexion: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Gently ease your head forward toward the chest until you feel a stretch in your upper back. Hold for a few breaths and return to the starting position.
Lateral Flexion: This exercise flexes the upper back and shoulders, and can be performed in either a seated or standing position. Bend your neck to one side as if to touch your ear to your shoulder, until you feel the stretch the shoulders and neck. Hold for a few seconds, and then switch sides.
Planking: When you improve your core, your back benefits from a tighter midsection. Start with hands and knees on the ground, and then use your arms to pull yourself into a push-up position. Hold for 30 seconds, working your way up 90 seconds or more.
Avoid Back Issues with Proper Stretching
Lying Knee Twist: This movement stretches the paraspinal muscles while strengthening your abdomen. Start by lying on your back on a mat, with legs extended straight out. Bend one knee up and cross it to the other side of your body, with your heel resting against the outer knee. Hold the position to feel a comfortable stretch through the spine and buttocks muscles. Take a few deep breaths before returning to the start position, and then work the other knee. Repeat three times on each side.
Yoga Cat/Cow: This stretch also starts by kneeling on all fours, with hands beneath shoulders and your knees directly below the hips. As you exhale, gently push your abdomen towards the floor, creating an arc in your spine. On the inhale, tighten your core muscles and round your back up toward the ceiling, emulating a cat. Move slowly between these positions, always focusing on your breathing. Repeat each move ten times.
This guide on exercises, stretches and tips should help you reduce the incidence of back issues, but they still do occur at times. If you experience back pain, you might consider an electrical muscle stimulation machine, such as the Marc Pro and Marc Pro Plus. These drug-free solutions help speed recovery and ease back pain, especially when used alongside proper exercises and stretching.