Whether you spend all day hunched over a computer or stand up for long periods of time, its normal to feel aches in your upper and lower back.
But there’s good news.
There are easy stretches you can do to finally give your back some much-needed relief,
When attempting these stretches its important to keep in mind that flexibility plays an integral part in strengthening your back, easing your muscles and improving circulation in your spine.
Stretching your back can even strengthen muscles which can prevent more pain from occurring in the future.
Before trying these exercises see how flexible your back currently is. Heres a little test for you Stand up straight feet about shoulder-width, apart arms relaxed at your sides.
Now, slowly curl your back and lower your head to the ground without bending your legs.
How far did you get?
Were you able to touch the ground with your hands?
If youre not used to stretching or have weaker muscles, you may not have been able to get down too far.
But that’s OK, after doing many of these stretches over a longer period of time, youll notice that you become more flexible and, in turn, have less back pain.
1. Passive to Active Hanging Stretch
Stretching out your back is key to helping your muscles feel good and relaxed, no matter what youre doing, and the hanging stretch is a great way to relieve your back muscles from tension.
There are 2 kinds of hanging stretches, passive and active.
The difference between a general, passive and active stretch is simple.
Passive means you, let the body stretch without manipulating or forcing any movement at all.
An active stretch requires you to move a certain way to achieve the stretch. You will understand the difference after learning more about the passive hang stretch and the active hang stretch.
To do a passive, hang stretch, youll need a bar strong enough to hold your body weight. You can use one on a back machine at the gym or even a door frame pull-up bar
Stand up straight reach up to the bar and wrap your fingers around it.
Once youve got a good grip, unlock your knees and just hang.
Thats it, While youre hanging be sure to keep your head straight and your spine aligned Dont twist or try to do anything fancy.
This stretch may seem super simple, but its actually doing a lot.
Not only does it straighten your shoulders and align your spine, but it also engages your quads and abs.
If you do this stretch a few times in the morning and evening for a few minutes at a time, youll notice, your back muscles will be way less tense.
Ok, now, on to the active hanging, stretch, Start out the same way as the passive hanging stretch Once youre in the hanging position carefully tilt your head back, lift your chest up and pull your shoulders back while still keeping your arms in a straight. Hang
By doing this, you engage your glutes and hamstrings Hold these for about 5 seconds at a time.
And remember: dont, bend your arms Keep them straight so that you dont strain any muscles.
2. The Trunk Rotation Stretch
This stretch is great for improving the mobility of your spine by relaxing your side trunk muscles.
All you do is lie down flat on your back with your legs.
Staying relaxed, take one leg, bend it upward and push it over the other leg without straightening it out.
Push it slightly over the other leg, You should feel a good stretch in your torso and side.
Do the exercise again on the other leg, do this move a few times on each side.
3. The Camel Stretch
This stretch is all about arching, your back, which can really help back muscles that are stiff and sore from sitting down all day.
Start by getting on all fours, then gently arch your back, you should be making somewhat of a hump yup like a camel… release.
4. The Arch and Relax Stretch
Doing this a few times is great for your muscles and circulation, it can also strengthen the abdominal muscles over time.
Do about 10 of these every morning or before you start a workout.
4 Deep Squat and Reach
This stretch is great for shoulder extension and it really helps stretch your upper back.
It does require a little bit of balance and strength.
Start in a deep squat, with your butt, almost touching the floor.
Once you’re steady, lift one arm straight up to the ceiling, while the other arm is placed down in front of you.
Once your hand is up in the air, turn slightly in that direction, twisting your torso ever so slightly.
It helps to use the lowered arm to push in between your legs to get a good twist.
Dont forget to keep your back straight and your head facing ahead, so you can get the full extension of the shoulder Hold the position for 5 seconds before switching to the other side.
If holding a squat is a little too challenging find a bar to hold on to as you squat.
5. The Hip Flexor Stretch
If you sit at a desk all day, you know what its like to feel lower back pain, but sometimes pain in your lower back isn’t just from poor posture, its from other muscle groups that are strained from what youre doing.
If you suffer from lower back pain and sit at a desk all day, this hip flexor stretch can be really helpful.
When you do a lot of sitting, your hip muscles can become tight.
So when you finally do stand up, these tightened hip muscles actually pull the lower back forward. This puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your lower back… Ouch.
To keep your hip muscles loose do this.
Kneel down on a mat and take one of your legs ( still bent with your knee touching the floor, ) Lean onto it, pushing it out in front of you.
Straighten your other leg flat against the mat behind you by pressing your weight onto the bent leg, thus giving your hips a good stretch.
You’re also stretching the upper leg muscles in the leg that stays flat.
Hold the stretch for about 10 seconds before switching to the other leg, do 5 reps
and feel the burn.
6. The Jefferson Curl Stretch
This stretch is great for flexibility, since it helps you get to a place where you can fully fold your body in half and touch the ground while standing.
Here’s how you do it.
Stand up straight with good posture, Slowly, roll downward starting with your head, then your shoulders and then continue to curl your back down one vertebra at a time.
Be sure to do this very slowly, so you dont strain anything or lose your balance.
Remember: don’t bend your legs.
Once youve reached the ground with your hands or have gone as far as your body is able to, hold it for about 5 seconds.
Now, its time to rewind… Roll back up slowly until youre standing, upright.
After practicing the Jefferson curl for 30 days, don’t be surprised if you can finally touch your toes!
If these stretches were challenging for you, dont be discouraged… training your muscles, even while stretching, takes time.
If you do these stretches every day, they’ll become easier over time and your back pain will decrease more and more.
Remember that if you feel any kind of pain, don’t force yourself into the stretch, instead
visit a kinesiologist or a trainer at your local gym, and they can help figure out why youre feeling that way.
After doing these stretches every day for a month your back will feel great and, you’ll never look back!