The human body wasn’t designed to sit in a chair all day. Your tendons, ligaments and muscles — especially those immediately surrounding your spinal column — all need stretching. It’s the nature of your body to want to move. When your connective tissues don’t get regular stretching, they tend to get grouchy. That’s one of the causes of back pain.
By following a physical therapy procedure at the Southeastern Spine Institute, you can get your muscles, ligaments and tendons flexible again, but it may take a while. If you’ve been immobile for any length of time, you may find that your body will fight you every step of the way.
A better alternative is not to wait until your muscles, tendons and ligaments become too stiff. If you get into a regular habit of stretching, you will stay flexible and healthy. Whether you start out slowly or jump right into the activity, these five simple stretches for your back will help keep you limber and pain-free.
1. Get Back
Lie on the floor and bring both knees up toward your chest while tilting your head forward. Don’t force your body into an uncomfortable position. Stretching should feel good. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and then release. Repeat three times.
2. Back It Up
Stay on the floor and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Put both hands behind one knee and pull your leg toward your chest. Pull slowly and steadily. Never bounce when you stretch because you could tear a muscle. Repeat three times on each leg. This is a great stretch to do in the morning to get you limbered up for the day.
3. Pain in the Neck
Sitting for long periods of time can give you a stiff neck. For this stretch, remain seated upright and touch your chin to your chest. Hold for 20 seconds, lift your head and repeat. Raise your head and then try to touch your ear to your shoulder. Hold and then repeat on the other side. This is a great stretch to prevent a sore neck.
4. Bend Over
This simple exercise stretches your hamstrings. Stand erect and bend forward from the waist, trying to touch your toes. Stretch as far as you can and hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Rise and repeat. If that stretch feels painful (remember, stretching should feel good), sit on a chair with your legs up on a stool or other surface. Bend to touch your toes from this sitting position, stretching those hamstrings in the backs of your thighs.
5. Get Hip to the Stretch
Keeping the connections in your hip spry will improve your overall flexibility. Give your glutes a good stretch while you’re lying on the floor. Cross one leg over the other leg and gently pull your knee toward your chest. Keep the pressure smooth and tight for 20 seconds and then slowly release. Repeat on the other side.