5 Stretches to Help Back Pain So You Can Explore & Play Outside More

It’s Not About the Muscles.

It’s Not About the Muscles.

Wait, what?

90-95% of back pain is non-specific and mechanical in nature. It has many names: lumbar pain, sciatica, lumbago, disc problems, etc., but in and of itself, it is rarely dangerous.

It's the 2nd arrow problem. And a very real, and a big one.

100 billion dollars per year in the USA.

Back pain creates actual health and wellness problems because the pain usually flares up at night, just when we are trying to fall asleep, and it makes us feel like we are unworthy.

Often an acute, or new episode of pain, is initially caused by lumbar muscle sprains. These are basically micro tears in the muscles surrounding our spine due to everyday life or an injury, because our muscles are like amazing soldiers or devoted golden retrievers trying to protect us.

The good news is that our body tissues typically heal themselves within 4-6 weeks.

While back pain can be caused by serious problems, it is rare. Like 99.6% of the time.

But they hurt like a MF'er. Misery ensues.

The scary reasons for back pain are usually easy to diagnose without an MRI, according to the Clinical Practice Guidelines of the Journal of Orthopedic Sports Physical Therapy.

Want Action Now: Try these Natural solutions to this cursed back pain.

Curious About What is Going Wrong? --->. Scroll down and Read Below and then come back to the solution.

Top 4 Stretches for Back Pain

1. Piriformis Stretch

Begin by lying on your back on a mat or bed with your head on a pillow. Bend both of your knees with your feet on the mat. Cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh, making a figure 4 shape with your legs. Do a tiny abdominal crunch to reach behind your left thigh and interlace your fingers to hold your left leg. Gently settle back down to rest your head on the pillow and continue to pull on your left leg until you feel a gentle stretch on your right hip, buttocks, and lower back region.

Video Here

Hold 5-10 breaths, then repeat other side up to 3-5 repetitions.

“It’s all in the hips.”

This is the go-to stretch for lower back pain, SI, and pelvic related pain as it stimulates most of the muscles crossing the interconnected hips and lower back region.

Alternatives to the piriformis stretch that may be more accessible for those with mobility problems or late pregnancy is the pigeon yoga stretch or a chair version.

To perform the chair version, sit at the edge of your seat with the ankle crossed over the knee, keeping the back straight, hinge forward at the hips until a stretch in the back of the hip and lower back region is felt.

Chair Version Video Here

2. Knees To Chest

Starting from the position of lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the mat, gentle interlace your fingers behind your left thigh and pull your knee towards your chest. Hold 5-10 deep breaths, then switch legs. Then if it’s accessible, try holding both knees towards your chest. Only pull to where it’s comfortable and visualize your spine moving effortlessly.

Video Here

“Motion is lotion.”

At the very onset of back pain, your best instinct should be to gently and comfortably begin to move the injured body parts. Movement is one of natures’ best pain killers. Lying on your back is a safe position without much fear of falling, so it’s a great place to start. By moving your legs and hips, you actually non-threateningly begin to move not only your lower back spine joints (which likely has become sensitive to movement) but also your back muscles.

This stretch can be modified to sidelying or sitting if one has mobility problems that prevent getting up and down off the bed/floor or in late term pregnancy.

3. Cat-Cow Mobility

Starting on hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders, and your knees under your hips, slowly inhale and begin moving your entire spine. Stick your tailbone up towards the ceiling, then sag and arch your lower back, then lift your chest and head and eventually look up towards the ceiling (cow). On your exhale reverse the direction by looking down towards the floor, tuck your tailbone under and round your entire spine into a C-shape (cat). Move back and forth between the two positions with your breath 10 times.

Video Here

“If you don’t move it, you lose it.”

What is special about the quadruped (hands and knees) position is it’s possibility to articulate each joint in your entire spinal column safely in all directions. Other positions make this difficult.

Physical movement promotes blood flow, increased body awareness, and stretches almost every muscle in your back to ensure you don’t lose mobility in the future through pain and disuse.

Cat-cow can be modified to a seated position for those whose knees do not tolerate kneeling or are ordered by their doctor to be non-weight bearing on a leg after a surgery. For most it is an extremely safe and effective stretch to mobilize your entire spine and is very comfortably to do on a bed or the floor.

4. Stop getting sucked into work or netflix.

Words a physical therapist hears 10 times a day:

1. “Sitting too long aggravates my back.”

2. “Standing too long aggravates my back.”

One would guess that something like jumping out of airplanes, pushing humvees, crossfit, or situps would be on the top of the list for things that aggravate back pain, or a bad desk chair, but it's not.

However, ergonomic chairs and desks make no difference in reports of pain according to this 2018 spine pain study, and people rarely complain about peak physical activities as pain generating experiences.

The best posture is your next posture.

It’s actually about the “next” posture that makes a difference. Design your environment so that you continuously move between a sitting or standing posture throughout the day. At night use pillows, leg pillows, and a mattress that encourages you to move between sidelying and lying on your back. If you must sleep on your tummy, try to place a pillow under your hips.

Try setting a timer to remind yourself to move, drink a lot of water to have to get up and use the bathroom, or buy a sit-to-stand desk and change postures frequently before your back sensitivity reminds you to take advantage of natures’ most easily accessible pain killer, movement.

This stretch of your entire lower body and trunk is helpful for anyone with the capacity to stand and not medically required to be in bedrest or sitting in a wheelchair.

So that was the cute and easy solution to back pain.

I would call bullshit on myself for that one.

We all have different circumstances and it's not fair. It's not Star Trek, nor likely to be soon.

But let me get cute again.

Our thoughts create our feelings -- via neurochemistry. We are biological, free will is there but sketchy.

Our feelings drive our Actions (far more than anything else).

Our Actions Create Results.

Are you a victim of your circumstances?

Stretching does help. But...it's complicated.