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Simple Stretching for Lower Back Pain that You Can Do At Home

Simple Stretching for Lower Back Pain that You Can Do At Home

Stretching for lower back pain is a very common practice. Most people do it straight in the morning, right after waking up and are often implementing a far too rigorous stretching routine.

This is not the best way to do it. Stretching can be a great tool in improving your lower back health. But what if I tell you that the way you’re stretching could actually cause more trouble instead of preventing it in the long-term?

The Golden Rules Of Stretching For Lower Back Pain

‘Primum non nocere.’ / EN: ‘First, do no harm.’ – Key principle in medicine.

If you have lower back pain, stretching is generally a good idea. But remember to keep certain principles in mind. You don’t want to harm yourself. You want to effectively ease your pain.

  • Always stretch warmed up. Remember, you’re damaging your muscles when you’re stretching. Make sure your muscles are warmed up so they’re able to deal with stress better. To warm up, simply go walking in fast pace for 10 minutes before you start to stretch.
  • Stretching in the morning is a complete No-Go. Your discs of your spine get soaked up over night. They’re increasing in volume. That’s why you’re few centimeters taller in the morning. Being tall might be great, but due to this circumstance there’s also more pressure on your vertebraes during those first 1-2 hours. This is the time that your discs spend in that soaked up state. Don’t stretch during that time frame. Your spine could be damaged more easily.
  • Don’t stretch every day if you’re a beginner and don’t stretch too hard. Remember that stretching puts stress on your muscles and joints. In the beginning your body needs time to adapt to the damage. Start with 2-3 times a week for the best results. Also don’t stretch when your muscles are sore.
  • Don’t focus entirely on your lower back. Yes you might feel pain in the lower back region, but this doesn’t mean that the pain stems from there. Everything is connected in your body. You have to think of your body as a system. Lower back pain could stem from tension in your upper back or even your heels. Don’t just do lower back stretches, make sure your organism is healthy overall.
  • Keep a straight back. I see people trying to stretch their hamstrings with a completely round back. Don’t do that. You’re hurting your spine more than you’re helping it. Keep a straight back – or better – choose a position where having a rounded back is impossible. Such as in the stretching exercises that are following.

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    The Stretching Exercises

    The exercises following are divided into two different categories:

    1. Removing pressure from your spine
    2. Stretching the muscles in your body to remove damages during the day.

    Impaired flexibility is seldom the root cause for lower back pain. Yes you might feel some pain relief doing it short term, but this is simply because of the increased blood flow to the damaged tissue. Most lower back pain stem from problems of your joints and bones, things that stretching only has a minimal effect over. Nonetheless stretching adequately and regularly can reduce the pressure on your spine in the short and long-term.

    3 Ways To Remove Pressure From Your Spine

    Hold these stretches for approximately 20 seconds until you feel less pressure on your spine. At best do them after sitting for a long work day. This can be truly energizing.

    Elongating Your Spine – No Equipment Needed

    With this stretching technique you’re elongating your spine and stretching your chest muscles. Try to make your spine as long as possible. Just make sure to not overextend it in the other direction. Have good posture during the entire stretching.

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      Elongating Your Spine – Ball Technique

      This stretching method is also taking away pressure from your spine. This is a little bit more difficult than the previous exercise, as you have to deal with instability. Make sure your belly button is the highest point of your body in this movement. Training on this exercise ball is also a great way to train the stabilizing muscles of your back.

        Elongating Your Spine – Inversion Table

        This is the most advanced and in my eyes most effective version of taking away pressure. You’re basically turning yourself upside down on an inversion table and hold for a couple of seconds. This takes the effect of gravity away. Your discs can recharge. Inversion Tables start at about 100$.

          3 Ways To Stretch Spine Healthy Muscles

          Hold the tension in these muscles for about 1 -2 minutes. Aim for two sets in the beginning.

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          Chest Stretch – Bat As Equipment

          This is an easy stretch of your chest muscles. Performed with a bat. You can easily do this exercise by having the palms of your slightly bended arm pressed against a wall. Stretching the chest muscles will improve your posture and therefore dampen the long-term damage a bad posture has on your spine.

            Hamstrings Stretch – No Equipment Needed

            Most hamstring stretching technique only work if you keep your back bended. This is a great alternative. By laying on the ground you make sure you always have good posture. Grab your leg just under the knee cap, then slowly bring it into a fully stretched position.

              Hamstrings Stretch – Towel Or Band

              This is the same hamstring stretch as before. But here you’re using a towel or a band to increase the stretching effect. This is my personal favourite. Tip: For Beginners, put the towel or the band around your achilles tendon, not around your foot. This will ease the pain.

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                Stretching is a great way to improve your lower back health. By following my advice and stretching exercises suggested above, you will ease your lower back pain and experience a healthier back.

                If you want to find out more ways on relieving lower back pain, check out my other article What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                Featured photo credit: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Legs-Yoga-Sports-Girl-1146277 via maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

                More by this author

                Florian Wüest

                Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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                Last Updated on May 22, 2019

                10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

                10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

                There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

                One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

                In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

                Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

                1. Cat Camel Stretch

                Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

                Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

                Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

                Here’s a video to guide you through:

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                2. Go for a Walk or a Run

                This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

                Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

                The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

                Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

                Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

                3. Jumping Jacks

                Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

                Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

                4. Abductor Side Lifts

                Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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                Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

                5. Balancing Table Pose

                This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

                Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

                ablab

                  6. Leg Squats

                  Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

                  Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

                  The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

                  7. Push Ups

                  You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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                  An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

                  Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

                  This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

                  8. Bicycle Crunches

                  There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

                  Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

                  9. Lunges

                  Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

                  Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

                  This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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                  10. Bicep Curls

                  You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

                  Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

                  Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

                  Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

                  Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

                  These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

                  You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

                  Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

                  More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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