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Published on March 11, 2021

7 Gentle And Effective Stretches for Back Pain

7 Gentle And Effective Stretches for Back Pain
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Back pain can be a real pain in the butt—and no, not just in the figurative sense. If a back issue has ever debilitated you at some point in your life, then you surely know that back pain can radiate to many other different areas of your body. In fact, it can outright frustrate and stop you from carrying out most of your daily routines. However, you can help alleviate back pain by simply stretching.

Now, back pain doesn’t always necessarily arise out of traumas in case you’re wondering. While it certainly can, more often than not, it’s just from bad posture, sudden movements, and your body’s natural wear and tear cycle that will cause most of your back pain issues.

The great news is that the following 7 stretches for back pain can do wonders in getting yourself in shape once again and feeling greater than you ever did before.

Are you ready to try them out for yourself?

Note: If you’re unsure as to the nature of your back pain, it’s advisable to first consult with your physician before engaging in any of these stretches for back pain.

1. Supine Hamstring Stretch

    Supine Hamstring Stretch

    You may be wondering what the hamstrings have to do with your back. Well, just like your back pain can radiate to other areas of your body, many times, it’s problems with your hips and hamstrings that are at the root of most lower back pain.

    Unfortunately, today’s society has most people sitting idle for most of any day and hunched over technological devices. As a result, this can cause your hamstring muscles to shorten over time. The extent to which they do so is then in direct proportion to how active you keep yourself.

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    Therefore, as your hamstrings shorten and tighten, they will start to pull on the Ischial tuberosity (your “sitting bones”) which extends from the Ischium (the lower part of either side of your pelvis). This can cause a posterior tilt of your pelvis and lead to curvature and rounding of your spine. You will often feel the outcome of this process as lower back pain.

    Hence, regularly stretching your hamstrings can reverse the posterior tilt in your pelvis (as the hamstrings lengthen) and improve your posture and any resulting tensions you may be experiencing in the lower back.

    Steps:

    1. You may want to grab yourself a yoga strap or a small towel to assist you in the stretch.
    2. Lie flat and straight on your back with both legs firmly on the ground.
    3. Bring your right knee in towards your chest and secure the towel or strap around the ball of your right foot.
    4. As you lay back on the ground, grab both ends of your towel or strap with your right hand and gently pull to a gentle point of resistance.
    5. Next, extend the bent leg straight and upright while keeping the other firmly on the ground and ensure your right foot is flexed pointing down towards you.
    6. Inhale deeply through your nose and with each exhale, pull gently to your resistance point. You may opt to place your left hand onto your right knee to prevent the upright leg from bending.
    7. Hold for a minimum of 10 deep breaths and repeat the process on the other side.

    Bonus Tip: Don’t worry if you cannot extend your leg upright to 90 degrees! If your hamstrings are very tight, it’s absolutely normal. Just take yourself to your resistance point every time and keep your leg straight.

    2. Piriformis Release Stretch

      Piriformis Release Stretch

      The Piriformis muscle in your body is another common back pain culprit located in your buttocks. This muscle attaches to your lower spine and its functions are to allow your hip to rotate your leg and your foot to turn outward.

      Just like your hamstrings, a tight Piriformis muscle can radiate up to your gluteal region and lower back. In some cases, you may develop Piriformis Syndrome where your sciatic nerve gets compressed by the tightening of the muscle.[1]

      The Piriformis muscle most often tightens as a result of bad posture as the Sacroiliac joints on either side of your pelvis start bearing uneven stress. It also shortens and tightens anytime you laterally rotate your thigh.

      To give you an example of this, if you have a regular habit of crossing your legs where one ankle rests on the opposite knee, then you could do yourself with the Piriformis release stretch.

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      Steps:

      1. Begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground.
      2. Bring your right knee in towards your chest and grab your right ankle with your left hand.
      3. Cross your right leg and place your right ankle across and below your left knee while ensuring your right foot is flexed pointing upwards.
      4. Once in position, lift your left thigh to 90 degrees as you lay flat on your back.
      5. Remain on your back and grab the top (or underneath) of your left knee with both hands while passing your right hand through the loop opening formed by crossing your legs.
      6. Breathe in deeply and as you exhale pull your left knee towards your body until a gentle point of resistance.
      7. Hold for a minimum of 10 deep breaths and repeat the process on the other side.

      Bonus Tip: For a deeper Piriformis stretch, you can use your right elbow to push and open your right leg further with each exhale.

      3. Child’s Pose

        Child’s Pose

        Nowadays, a very common back issue is bending down to pick up something and finding yourself unable to move afterward. This could most likely be indicative of a facet joint problem in your back as sudden muscle spasms pull your spine slightly out of alignment. Whether this is your cause or not, one of the popular stretches for back pain you can turn to is one of Yoga’s all-time favorites![2]

        Just like a fetus, Child’s pose naturally curves your spine to release your lower back muscles and re-align you by stabilizing your core muscles. Besides your lower back, you’ll also be able to release tensions in your shoulders, chest, hips, inner thighs, knees, and ankles. Talk about a stress buster! Don’t be surprised if you also manage to grab yourself a sound night’s sleep afterward.

        Steps:

        1. Come down to the floor onto your knees.
        2. Sit back on your heels and open your knees slightly beyond hips-width apart.
        3. Inhale deeply through your nose and elongate your spine.
        4. As you exhale, start lowering your upper torso and slide your arms out in front of you until your forehead touches the ground.
        5. Keep sliding your arms out in front of you until you feel comfortable in the position or until you feel a comfortable elongation in your tailbone.
        6. Given this is a restorative pose, you are free to hold it for up to 3 minutes.

        Bonus Tip: You can tuck your arms in by the side of your body if it feels more comfortable to you. For a deeper stretch, you may also open your knees out wider.

        4. Side Bend

          Side Bend

          Any postural imbalance you develop over the years can build up stress in your lateral back muscles and hips. If you’re one to sit crouched at a desk all day, then your bad posture is likely causing your lateral back muscles to shorten and feel tighter. As a result, you may at times feel like your upper torso is merging deeper into your hips.

          Aside from back pain from postural imbalance, tight lateral back muscles can also constrict your lungs’ full breathing capacity. Incorporating a side bend in your daily routine, therefore, will not only relieve your posture and the flexibility of your spine but can also give you many other benefits from improved breathing down to relieving constipation.

          Steps:

          1. Stand tall with your feet slightly apart with your arms relaxed by your side.
          2. Keep your palms facing down and bring your right arm straight up in line with your shoulder.
          3. Turn your palm facing upwards and bring your right arm vertically overhead.
          4. As you exhale, bend your upper body to the left and slide your left arm down the leg as you do so.
          5. Hold the stretch for a count of 30 seconds.
          6. As you inhale come back into a neutral position and repeat the process on the other side.

          Bonus Tip: Here’s some added motivation for you! This pose can also contribute towards toning your abdominal muscles and can reduce accumulated fat at the waist![3]

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          5. Sphinx Pose

            Sphinx Pose

            This is one of the most popular stretches for back pain! If you have a habit of slouching, then your lower back likely is not feeling too great as it bears constant unnecessary stress to keep your body in balance.

            Luckily, the Sphinx pose can do wonders to relieve any tension and consequent pain you may be feeling. The gentle back bending nature of this pose is very therapeutic to your entire back as it can also lengthen and strengthen your spine. In fact, this pose is so therapeutic that it goes beyond muscular tensions!

            If you suffer or know someone who suffers from a herniated or bulging disc, then you may want to add Sphinx Pose to the treatment plan.[4] This backbend tends to decompress the spine and can be very effective in pushing a bulging disc back into place.

            Remember, consult your physician before trying this alone, especially if you have any spinal injuries not caused by muscular tensions.

            Steps:

            1. Lie on your belly with your legs side by side and your tail bone pointing down towards your heels to protect your lower back.
            2. Rotate your inner thighs inwards while keeping your tailbone pointing down.
            3. Bring your elbows in line and under your shoulders and place your forearms on the ground parallel to each other.
            4. Inhale and lift your upper torso into a gentle backbend while firmly pressing into your palms.
            5. Ensure your chest and abdomen are off the ground and elongate the neck to bring the ears away from the shoulders.
            6. Hold for a count of 10 deep breaths while gazing upwards.

            Bonus Tip: In Yoga, the Sphinx pose helps open up the “heart chakra” (energy point). This can ease any feelings of depression you may have and enhance your feelings towards greater self-love.

            6. Reclined Spinal Twist

              Reclined Spinal Twist

              Ever squeezed a sponge or a wet towel before? Well, just like the above, the reclined spinal twist feels great and does wonders in decompressing and elongating your spine as well as releasing the lower back. Not only that, but your digestion also stands to improve as the twisting movement expels toxins from within your digestive organs!

              Given this pose involves a twisting movement of the spine, it would be best to avoid it if you have a spinal injury.

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              Steps:

              1. Lay flat on your back with both arms by your side.
              2. Pin your right shoulder to the ground and open your right arm out to the side.
              3. Bring your right knee in towards your chest and grab the exterior of the right knee with your left hand.
              4. Inhale and elongate the spine and with the exhale bring your left knee down to your left side while ensuring your upper body and right shoulder are pinned to the ground.
              5. Hold for a minimum of 10 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.

              Bonus Tip: Go gently! If you feel any pins and needles or burnings sensations while in this pose, gently bring yourself out of the stretch.

              7. Happy Baby Pose

                Happy Baby Pose

                There’s a reason babies are so happy in their prams. After all, who wouldn’t be with vital organs, an enhanced mood, flexible hips, and a strong pelvis to support the spine? Happy Baby Pose ticks many boxes and especially the one about releasing any lower back pain you may be experiencing. This pose does so by strengthening your lower back muscles and realigning your spine.

                Given you need to reach your toes for this one, you may wish to have a strap or towel handy to assist you.

                Steps:

                1. Lie on your back and bring your knees in towards your chest.
                2. Grab your feet from the edges or each one of your big toes. If you can’t reach your feet, then use the strap or towel to make a loop around your feet.
                3. Now open your knees hip-width apart and raise the knees as far up your body as you can while lifting the feet upright.
                4. Settle each ankle above each knee and flex the feet to be pointing down towards the ground.
                5. Hold for a minimum of 10 deep breaths or up to 60 seconds.

                Bonus Tip: This pose is called Happy Baby Pose for a reason. Its anxiety-busting and energy-boosting benefits will make your mind take you back to childhood.

                Takeaway

                So, there you have it, seven gentle and effective stretches for back pain. Granted tensions can be a nuisance at times, but with the above stretches for back pain, you have the ability to make your body work for you. If you wish to gain longer-term benefits and prevent any unnecessary pain from arising, then it’s strongly suggested you make the above a daily ritual.

                Besides back pain, you have a ton of other stress-busting and wellness benefits to gain from and look forward to. Just pick your favorite pose from the list above or even better assign all of the above 7 poses to each day of the week. I promise you, they won’t take you longer than 5 minutes a day.

                Ask yourself, is 5 minutes a day of self-care worth preventing a few weeks, months, or years of chronic unnecessary back issues? I’m sure you’ve already got your answer. So, get stretching!

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                More Stretches for Back Pain You Can Try

                Featured photo credit: Conscious Design via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] WebMD: Piriformis Syndrome
                [2] Very Well Health: Yoga for Back Pain
                [3] Easy Ayurveda: Ardha Kati Chakrasana
                [4] How to Cure: Yoga for Herniated Disc

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                Mathieu Ganado

                FitYoga Instructor, Blogger and Wellness Business Owner

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                Last Updated on July 21, 2021

                12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It)

                12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It)
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                Lower right back pain can be hard to shake. Even mild back pain can damper your energy levels and take away your focus at work. If you’re experiencing lower right back pain, it’s time to get to the bottom of your back pain.

                Don’t write off your pain as simply a bad night’s rest. You deserve to know the cause of your lower right back pain – and how to relieve it.

                Luckily, most cases of lower right back pain are a result of musculoskeletal issues and not an urgent medical crisis. Of course, that doesn’t make your back pain any less serious. Whatever the cause, you’ll need to treat your condition to get better, even if that means self-care remedies that you can easily find at home.

                Lower right back pain should be taken seriously: it’s often a sign that some area of your body is out of balance. And with everything going on in your life, back pain is the last thing you need.

                Today, we’ll look at common causes of lower right back pain and how to relieve it. Let’s get your back on track, so that you can feel great again.

                Urgent Lower Right Back Pain Symptoms

                Before we get started on common causes of lower right back pain, let’s look briefly at urgent symptoms to watch out for.

                If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you should go to the emergency room to rule out urgent conditions.

                • Intense pain that’s sudden or sharp
                • Intense pain coupled with fever, nausea, vomiting or incontinence
                • Intense pain coupled with swelling or feelings of fullness
                • Intense pain coupled with urinary symptoms

                These symptoms could be signs of urgent conditions such as appendicitis, kidney infections, kidney stones or endometriosis. Don’t take any chances and see a doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

                Common Causes of Lower Right Back Pain

                Now, let’s turn to common musculoskeletal causes of lower right back pain. By learning more about these causes, you’ll be better prepared to get quick pain relief.

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                1. Sprains and Strains

                Sprains and strains are the number one cause of lower right back pain.

                What’s the difference between a sprain and a strain? In essence, they are similar injuries. Sprains happen when you overextend or tear ligaments (tissues connecting joints); strains happen when you tear muscles or tendons (tissues connecting muscles). Typically, you’ll feel swelling, stiffness, bruising, cramping and/or spasms in your lower right back.

                You usually know when you have a sprain or strain because you did something to trigger it. This could be an everyday activity, such as a sports injury, lifting something heavy, household falls or overexercising. Any sudden movements, or unnatural twisting and turning can also injure your muscles.

                While both sprains and strains can heal on their own, you can help speed up the recovery process. Generally, the R.I.C.E. formula is recommended, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.[1] The idea is to limit the use of your back muscles, ice them and apply any compression bandages. By following this formula, your lower right back should feel better in no time.

                Since back sprains and strains often recur, you should also consider stretching and strengthening exercises to prevent re-injury. Building up your back muscles, following warm-up or cool-down exercises and learning proper form and posture can also boost your back and prevent it from becoming chronic pain.

                2. Disc Degeneration

                While a natural part of the aging process, disc degeneration can also cause lower right back pain. Disc degeneration happens when the discs that hold up the vertebrae start to decay. With this wear-and-tear, the vertebrae have less protection and begin to rub together painfully.

                Getting relief from disc degeneration can be tricky, because there’s no cure for this natural decay. Sometimes doctors will recommend physical therapy, massage therapy or chiropractic for possible benefits by changing your posture and movements, as well as using adjustments and the therapeutic touch for pain relief.[2]

                In extreme cases, you may even consider steroid injections or surgery. However, most people with disc degeneration will focus on getting relief at home.

                3. Osteoarthritis

                Osteoarthritis is another aging condition that can cause lower right back pain. As the most common arthritis condition, osteoarthritis occurs when the cushion on your joints wears down with age, especially for commonly used joints, such as your spine, knees and hips.

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                Specific symptoms of osteoarthritis involve stiffness, swelling, tenderness and loss of range of motion. Since the damage of osteoarthritis can’t be reversed, treatment usually focuses on physical therapy and lifestyle changes, including low-impact exercise and weight loss. Home remedies such as hot and cold packs and supplements are also effective.

                4. Herniated Disc

                A herniated disc may also be the cause of your lower right back pain. When the spine is working correctly, discs cushion and protect the spine. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, a disc is like a jelly donut. When a herniated disc occurs, the jelly inside is pushed outside of its case.[3] This material then makes contact with nerves, causing pain, numbness and tingling.

                Treatment for this condition can be as simple as physical therapy and pain relievers, or as complex as surgery. In any case, lifestyle changes can help with pain relief, including regular low-impact exercise such as yoga, weight loss, massage therapy and home remedies.

                5. Muscular Imbalance

                At times, lower right back pain can be hard to pinpoint, especially if you don’t remember an initial injury or movement that caused it. However, the way you move and exercise can impact your back pain. Specifically, muscular imbalance is an extremely common source of lower right back pain.

                Muscular imbalance occurs when the natural balance of your muscular system is disrupted. This typically happens when you use certain muscles more than others, or do physical activity in an unnatural position.

                For example, if your abdominal muscles are weak, your lower back will take the load, creating a muscular imbalance that may cause you pain. In athletes, this a common problem when you use certain muscle groups for sports, leaving others unfit or unused. Muscular imbalance can cause pain spots, such as in the lower right back.

                Muscular imbalance is best treated by a physical therapist or chiropractor who can identify the imbalance among the muscle groups and create exercises for boosting weak areas. In the meantime, home remedies are a good way to stay pain-free.

                6. Spinal Stenosis

                Spinal stenosis can cause serious lower right back pain. This condition occurs when the spaces in between your spine narrow, which puts excess pressure on your nerves.

                Imagine your spine contracting or “crunching” together. Symptoms include lower right back pain, as well as numbness and weakness. Sometimes spinal stenosis is a secondary symptom of osteoarthritis too.

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                The treatment of spinal stenosis is lifestyle-based, including building up strength, flexibility and balance. For extreme cases, doctors may also recommend decompression treatment or surgery. However, many get pain relief from staying active, losing weight and using home pain relief remedies.

                7. Sciatica

                If you’re experiencing sharp pain on your lower right side, you may have sciatica. Your sciatic nerve runs from your lower back down your legs. If it becomes pinched, you may feel pain that spreads all along the nerve, including your lower back. Common symptoms of sciatica also include numbness and tingling.

                The majority of sciatica cases are relieved by home treatment. Typically, physical therapists will recommend a stretching routine and regular low-impact exercise. Sometimes, steroid injections are also beneficial for pain relief, though most cases can be successfully minimized by home remedies.

                8. Bone Spurs

                Another possible cause of your back pain is bone spurs. As the name suggests, bone spurs occur when bones in your spine rub together painfully.

                When your discs start to decay, bone spurs become more likely, as the cushioning is no longer there between the vertebrae. Bone spurs are difficult to prevent, but you can get pain relief from home remedies.

                9. Spinal Infection

                Though less common, a spinal infection can also cause lower right back pain. There are many different types of spinal infections, but the most frequent happen when bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Escherichia coli enter the spine via the bloodstream.[4] This bacteria then causes swelling and tenderness, and may also manifest as a fever, muscle spasms and lower right back pain.

                A spinal infection should be treated as soon as possible before the bacteria causes irreparable damage. The biggest clue is a fever: if you have a high fever in addition to lower right back pain, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. Antibiotics will typically resolve the condition, or surgery in extreme cases.

                10. Scoliosis

                The back condition scoliosis is another culprit of lower right back pain. Scoliosis is when the back curves in an unnatural shape, usually a C or an S. This curvature then places undue pressure on certain areas of the back. A doctor or chiropractor can easily diagnose scoliosis by looking at X-rays of the spine. Other symptoms of scoliosis include other misalignments in the body, as well as muscular weakness or numbness.

                A physical therapist is extremely important for mitigating scoliosis and trying to correct spinal curvature in young adults. Other lifestyle treatment options include using a brace, regular exercise, chiropractic adjustments and home remedies for pain relief.

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                11. Joint Dysfunction

                Joint dysfunction may also account for lower right back pain. Joint dysfunction can cause inflammation in and around the spine. Specifically, joint dysfunction occurs when the joint in question moves too much or too little, causing muscle tension and tenderness. This inflammation then affects the surrounding area, including the spine.

                In the case of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, the sacroiliac joint that connects the hips and the lumbar spine becomes inflamed, which causes pain both in the lower back and legs. To get pain relief from joint dysfunction, you can get chiropractic adjustments, wear a brace or use home remedies to get rid of the pain.

                12. Cauda Equina Syndrome

                Cauda Equina Syndrome is a serious and urgent spinal condition that results from nerve endings of the Cauda Equina becoming compressed. When this happens, the patient may experience motor weakness or sensory loss, since these nerves are involved in these physical sensations.

                Cauda Equina syndrome is considered a medical emergency. If you’re experiencing lower right back pain, in addition to motor weakness, bladder dysfunction or sensory abnormalities, you may have Cauda Equina syndrome.

                Home Remedies for Lower Right Back Pain

                Depending on the cause of your lower right back pain, home pain relief remedies may help. If you’re looking to improve your back pain today, you can try the following options. Sometimes these self-care options are a matter of trial and error. Be sure to find the remedy that works for you.

                • Hot and cold packs
                • Natural supplements, such as white willow bark, devil’s claw or capsaicin
                • Anti-inflammatory spices turmeric and ginger
                • Green tea
                • Essential oils, including peppermint and lavender
                • An anti-inflammatory diet, including lots of fruits, veggies, fish and olive oil
                • Regular low-impact exercise, including yoga or Tai Chi
                • Good posture habits
                • Hot herbal baths
                • Regular massage therapy and chiropractic
                • Healthy sleeping positions 

                The Bottom Line

                Remember that getting relief for your lower right back pain is up to you. It’s important to take the time to make sure you’re creating good back-friendly habits and finding ways to incorporate these home remedies in your day-to-day life.

                If you’re not sure how to get started with recovering from back pain, you can also see a professional chiropractor, who will create a customized back pain plan to get your back condition resolved.

                Whatever you decide, don’t just ignore your lower right back pain. It’s essential that you address the pain and find ways to overcome the condition and get pain relief. Don’t let your back pain take over your busy schedule – you’ve got better things to do!

                Reference

                [1] National Institute of Health: Sprains and Strains
                [2] Better Health Chiropractic: 65 Proven Facts about Chiropractors and Chiropractic Care for Back Pain and Other Conditions
                [3] Mayo Clinic: Herniated disk
                [4] American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Spinal Infections

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