A stat everybody loves talking about is that 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. “Love” might be a strong word, but people won’t shut up about it. It’s probably because 80% is really close to 100%. Too close. And if that weren’t enough, low back pain is the second leading cause of disability in the U.S. So on top of the pain that can ruin the simple joys of being alive, not to mention attitudes, lower back pain also amounts to high medical bills and missed days of work.
There’s good news though! Most of the common causes of low back pain are due to mechanical issues, rather than serious medical issues. That means that through strengthening exercises and stretching back pain relief is POSSIBLE!
👆as medical professionals we don’t advise wasting champagne like this
Most low back pain is due to poor posture, which we reinforce by spending day after day at a desk.
*A couple things to keep in mind*
First things first, get an accurate diagnosis from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Low back pain is one of the chief culprits we deal with on a daily basis. Through a comprehensive and thorough exam, our goal is to get to the root cause of any issue so that we can craft an individualized strategy for care that will actually work, not some rinse and repeat, one-size-fits-all mumbo jumbo.
Second, aim to hold each of these life changing stretches for at least 30 seconds or longer, the longer the hold the more pain-relieving benefits. And before anyone starts with me, 30 seconds is not that long, it can be done, we’d already be halfway through at this point if we didn’t stop to complain.
Lastly, don’t rush through the moves. Turn on some Enya or smooth jazz, whatever tickles your fancy, and use this time to relax and decompress. Give your body and mind a break. And don’t forget to breathe! Focusing on breath will help with any feelings of discomfort.
Alright, enough “don’t”, let’s get loose!
1. Child’s Pose
a personal favorite
Remember when you were a kid and your only care in the world was trying to find the VHS tape your mom hid because she was so sick of you watching it day after day after day? Just me? Well, this stretch will take you right back there. This is the classic yoga pose that works the glutes, hammies, and spinal extensors (which are important to anyone who enjoys standing or lifting objects). It has a great relaxing effect, loosening muscles and promoting circulation along the spine.
- Starting off on all fours, slowly sink back through the hips to rest them on the heels.
- Hinge at the hips and fold forward, dropping the head and chest downward, walk your hands out in front of you.
- Rest your belly on your thighs.
- Extend your arms in front of or alongside your body with your palms facing up.
- Focus on breathing deeply and relaxing any areas of tension or tightness.
2. Cat/Cow Stretch
Brittany’s, your yoga teacher, favorite stretch
This stretch moves your back in two directions and builds on Child’s Pose to help lengthen muscles and soothe soreness. And it’ll freak out your dog.
- Start in tabletop, on your hands and knees with your back parallel to the ground.
- Press through your palms and do your best cat impression, leaving out the judgmental looks. Bring your chin to your chest as you round your back. Hold for 5 seconds.
- Then relax and draw your belly button down to the floor, gently arching your back and drawing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 5 seconds.
- Repeat each movement, back and forth until you get the urge to knock things off of a counter for attention.
3. Eye of the Needle
much easier than sewing
This stretch opens up the hips, stretches the piriformis (which is a critical muscle for anyone who doesn’t like to fall when they walk), and is also a nice little massage for the lower back.
- Lie on your back on a yoga mat, now that’s my kind of stretch, knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your right leg with a flexed foot and cross your right ankle over your left thigh
- Thread your arms between your legs and grab for the back of your left thigh or the top of your left shin.
- Draw your left knee in and relax your head and upper back on the floor. Then switch legs
4. Sphinx Stretch
the best way to guard any buried treasure. (This might be an obscure reference, but in mythology sphinxes were used to guard treasure)
*Stretches are always easier on a dock, at sunset, knowing that wine is imminent
This is a gentle backbend, a baby backbend if you will, that stretches and strengthens the spine, chest and booty. This is the perfect stretch for those of us that spend the day hunched over a computer or anyone who has just emerged from their Honda Odyssey after a non-stop drive to the Dells.
- Lie on your stomach, legs side by side, with your elbows underneath your shoulders and your hands extended in front, palms facing down.
- Set your feet slightly apart, but it’s totally okay for your big toes to touch. Reach your toes to the wall behind you.
- Inhale and gently engage your lower back, booty, and thighs as you lift your head and chest into a mild back bend.
- Engage your lower back and abdominals, breathing deeply.
- Gently draw your lower belly away from the floor and press your pelvis into the floor.
- Gaze straight ahead, super important if you are indeed guarding treasure, or gently close your eyes, if you feel that the treasure is safe and secure.
- Hold this pose for 1 to 3 minutes. You heard me.
5. Seated Spinal Twist
we ran out of fun names
This is a great stretch for the hips, glutes, and back. The twisted posture helps tone the belly, encourage spinal mobility and stimulate the internal organs, reminding them that they’ve got a job to do.
- Sit upright on a cushion or mat with your legs extended out in front of you.
- Bend your right knee and cross your right leg over your left, placing your right foot next to the left thigh.
- Reach your right arm behind you for support and gently twist your body to the right. Raise your left arm.
- Hook your left arm around your bent right knee, exhaling as you twist further to the right.
- Hold it for a minute and then gently release the pose and repeat on the other side.
You can also do a version of this pose while you’re lying down if it’s too taxing to be sitting up, some days it is no judgment. Lie on the floor and bring your right knee in and then let it fall to your left. Extend your right arm to the right and relax into the twist. Then switch sides.
If you’re just introducing these stretches feel free to build up slowly, who are you trying to impress? And if anything is painful, stop. “Push through the pain!” is a slogan that people in their 40s who can’t stand up straight say in their 20s. The goal of these stretches is to keep our bodies in the best shape to prevent back pain FOREVER!
Living with low back pain is the absolute worst and not how our bodies were designed. Our bodies are capable of healing themselves, but we have to make sure that our nervous system has a clear path to do so. We’re all about clearing up nervous system interference through chiropractic care, so that the body can function optimally. Give us a call or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors. It’s important to remember that pain is our body’s alarm system. Pain signals to the body that there may be a larger underlying issue that needs to be addressed.