Do you suffer from terrible back pain? Do aches and twinges radiate from your back and distract you from your everyday activities? If so, you’re not alone. Back pain is extremely prevalent in the United States, affecting as many as 31 million people at any given time. It’s also the most costly health problem facing the public today, with an estimate of $50 billion in health care costs.
Back pain can is caused by all sorts of reasons (including injuries from falls, car accidents, or muscle strain), it also can be attributed to something as simple as improper posture and sleeping positions.
While the solution for some of us might be as simple as changing our posture or sleeping position, it’s still possible to experience back pain. Fortunately, there are a number of stretches you can do to help ease your discomfort. And you just might feel years younger, too!
Please note: Before engaging in any of these stretches to ease your back pain, consult with your doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, or a licensed professional who works with back-pain patients in order to avoid any possible injury or further complications.
Stretches for a Healthy Back
1. Cat and Camel Stretches
This will stretch your entire back and relieve you from serious pain. But do be extra careful. If you feel any discomfort, discontinue the stretch.
Step 1: For the starting position, get down on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are right under your hips and your hands are placed within your shoulder width. Keep your back lined up with your neck in a neutral position.
Step 2: To do the “cat stretch,” gently let your head move down while simultaneously arching your back towards the ceiling. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.
Step 3: Return to the starting position by straightening your back.
Step 4: For the “camel stretch,” slowly lift your head up and back while pushing your stomach down toward the floor. Keep your buttocks lifted up, and slightly tilt your head up. Your body should be forming a “U” shape. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.
Step 5: Repeat this stretch for two more sets.
2. Chair Stretch
This stretch is effective in relieving tension in different levels of the spine. For this one, you’re going to need a small, soft, spherical cushion (like a ball plushie), as well as a chair.
Step 1: Sit comfortably on the chair, lean back, and place the cushion between the middle of your shoulder blades and the chair’s back rest.
Step 2: Bend your elbows and move your arms outward from your body, as if you’re trying to reach the back of the chair with your elbows.
Step 3: Simultaneously perform a neck extension by looking up at the ceiling and bending your neck outward. Hold this for one minute.
Step 4: You can repeat this movement for the other levels by placing the cushion lower or higher from the original position.
3. Neck Tuck and Extension
This stretch can be done anywhere at any time. It’s best to be consistent with this one as it will continually improve your posture and help with the back pain.
Step 1: Sit comfortably in a chair. Move your head forward and back, tucking in your chin as close to your chest as possible. Repeat this for one minute.
Step 2: After the neck tuck, lean toward the back of the chair, look up, and extend your neck outward as if you’re trying to look behind you. Hold this for one minute.
Step 3: If you need extra support, put a towel around your neck to assist you as you extend.
4. Wall Angels
Performing wall angels helps alleviate back pain and muscle tension and also helps improve your posture. They stretch out the sides of the back and some shoulder muscles, as well.
Step 1: Rest the back of your body against a wall with both of your feet flat and firm on the floor. Make sure you’re perfectly balanced.
Step 2: Bend both arms at a 45° angle, as if you’re forming a “W” with your body. Keep both arms leaning against the wall.
Step 3: Slowly extend your arms up with your elbows still bent, just you’d do with a shoulder raise. Repeat this for one minute.
5. Reverse Wall Stretch
This one is meant for stretching out the thoracic area of the back, which is located in between the shoulder blades.
Step 1: To start out, place both of your hands behind your neck with your elbows raised pointing to the ceiling.
Step 2: Approach the wall and lean slightly.
Step 3: With your elbows and the upper triceps resting on the wall, push toward the wall and stretch out your middle back. Hold this position for one minute.
This one is more of a massage than a stretch, but it will do you wonders in releasing unwanted knots from your back. For this one, you’re going to need one dress sock and a soft ball, such as a tennis ball.
The advantage with this stretch is that you can position the ball anywhere you might have knots and work to release them.
Step 1: Place the ball into the sock until it reaches the very end.
Step 2: Drape the end of the sock with the ball over your shoulder and position it where you need it.
Step 3: Lean against a wall and the ball. Move your back in different positions so that the ball rolls over knots in your back. The more you roll it around, the more effective it will be.
Step 4: You can do this for as long as you like, but one minute is a good start.
7. Foam Roller Stretch
For this stretch, you’ll need a foam roller. If you don’t own one, you can make one by rolling a few towels together. The roller or towel roll should be six inches in diameter.
We recommend this one if you simply want to relax or even meditate. It allows the back to stretch and the shoulders to relax.
Step 1: Lay the foam roller lengthwise on the floor.
Step 2: Slowly sit down on the ground with your entire back perpendicular to the foam roller.
Step 3: Lie down on the foam roller with both feet placed firmly on the ground to avoid imbalance.
Step 4: Place your arms to your side to let your shoulders fall back. Hold this pose for one minute or until you become fully relaxed.
There you have it – seven easy stretches anyone can do anywhere! This guide is the stepping stone for back pain relief, and all it takes is a little time and effort.
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