Many people consult a doctor of chiropractic when they are experiencing back pain, which is a good idea, because back pain – especially if chronic – can be a symptom of more serious structural problems that should be treated before they become worse. But there are proactive steps you can take to prevent back pain in the first place, and one of them is adding a regimen of simple back stretches to your day.
Daily activity – not just activity per se but also sitting or standing for long periods of time – can put strain on the muscles of your back and cause them to become tight and inflexible. Over time this can lead to bigger problems, as these overly tight muscles pull your vertebrae and joints out of alignment and thus exert pressure on the nerves of your spinal cord and extremities. Stretching can help to prevent this. The Mayo Clinic lists the five most important benefits of regular stretching as: increased flexibility and range of motion, better posture, improved circulation, enhanced coordination and stress relief.
Following are four simple stretches that are beneficial to your back. Use your doctor's recommendations and your own research to add to the list:
If you do not stretch regularly, check with your doctor before undertaking any new exercise program. As you begin to practice them, keep a few simple rules in mind. First, always warm up before stretching by walking or moving around. If you are adding back stretches to an existing exercise routine, perform them both before and after exercising. While stretching, hold each position for at least 30 seconds to give the muscles time to stretch out and relax. Don't bounce or strain; stretching should be pain- and effort-free to be effective. Stretch both sides of your body equally, and remember to breathe normally; if you find yourself holding your breath or panting, you're trying too hard.