Back pain is the leading cause of disability in Americans under 45 years old. More than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20-64 experience frequent back pain. – National Centers for Health Statistics
There really is no other way to say this: back pain sucks. Anyone that has experienced a back injury or a bout with back pain can attest to just how much it sucks. Back pain is also incredibly common: 31 million Americans experience back pain during any given time.
The agony caused by back pain can be excruciating, and even lead to disability or handicap. Common back pain also requires due diligence in order to effectively care for it. The most common types of back pain involve aches, spasms and stiffness – all of which contribute to an affliction that is, at times, difficult to manage or predict.
One lifestyle trend that has led to prolific back pain is the sedentary nature of our daily lives. More of us work sitting in a cubicle than at any other time in history. Spending more time in the office or working from home means more sitting and less exercise. Less exercise leads to a complacent body, which is turn leads to less muscle activity. Do you see where this is going?
The good thing is that we can do more to both prevent and heal back pain. As it turns out, stretching is one of the best methods for doing both. It doesn’t require much time either.
Here are 7 stretches that you can do in 7 minutes to help reduce back pain:
1. The “Complete” Back Stretch
As long as you have something you can grab onto – a countertop, desk, couch, table, etc. – you can do this quick stretch. Simply grab onto the surface and walk backward, maneuvering the back until it is at a 90 degree angle. Make sure to push the butt upwards until pressure can be felt in the lower back. Hold this position for about 15 seconds. Repeat.
2. The Spine Stretch
Lay on the floor with legs and arms flat. Make sure the legs are together. Rest the left hand around abdominal area, keeping the right arm out straight and flat against the floor. Keeping the legs together, bend them towards the waist. Slowly rotate the legs leftwards as far as possible while keeping the rest of the body in position. Hold for about 20 seconds. Repeat.
3. The Hamstring Stretch
Lay flat on your back and place hands behind the thigh. Slowly lift the leg with your hands while sliding them down towards the foot until fully stretched. Hold this position for about 20 seconds and repeat with the other leg. This stretch is particularly effective for instances of lower back pain.
4. The Knee To Chest Stretch
This stretch is performed exactly as advertised. Simply lay flat on the ground, eyes upwards. Flex either leg at the knee and place your hands on the shin. Pull your knee towards the chest until you feel tight. Hold this position for about 20 seconds and then repeat with the opposite leg. Repeat two or three times.
5. The Piriformis Stretch
While this stretch sounds complicated, it is rather easy. Lay on your back and cross the left leg over the right, resting your left ankle on the right knee. Grab ahold of your left knee with your hands and gently pull it in the direction of the opposite shoulder. Hold this position for 20 seconds and relax. Switch sides and repeat twice.
6. The Hip Flexors Stretch
There are actually a few different variations of this stretch. The one we’ll describe here is arguably the simplest and most effective. Get yourself into a half-kneeling position – the back leg is the one that is to be stretched. Drive your hips forward until the back knee is resting on the group. This exercise should stretch the iliopsoas, a primary hip flexor that, when stretched, can alleviate lower back pain.
7. The Lying Down Quadriceps Stretch
The quadriceps are also attached to your lower back. Loosening up and relaxing these muscles can help to relax any tension, which is often the source of lower back pain. Lay on your side with a hand supporting your head. Grab the lower shin and pull the leg back behind the body as far as possible. Hold the position for about 20 seconds. Switch sides and repeat once or twice more.