Lower back stretches can relieve one of the most common ailments: back pain. Back pain may be caused by a variety of injuries and conditions, some of which are more serious than others. Overstretching causes sprains and strains to the muscles and ligaments. Anything from lifting a heavy object improperly or a sports injury to poor posture can cause sprains and strains. Herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis, or some form of severe physical trauma are chronic conditions that cause lower back pain. Infection, tumors, or some form of autoimmune disease, such as fibromyalgia, can also cause lower back pain. The intensity and frequency of the pain might help to indicate the cause. Lower back stretches are one form of treatment which can help with certain types of lower back pain.1
Traditional Treatment Options
When the cause of the back pain is not severe, there are back pain remedies that patients can try at home. First, patients should rest and avoid strenuous activity. Generally, patients should not rest for more than a few days, because resting can inhibit the natural healing process. Heat therapy, including a hot bath or electric heating pad, promotes blood flow and healing. Ice therapy brings down inflammation and swelling that cause pain. Doctors will often recommend over-the-counter pain medications. Anti-inflammatory medicines include Advil, Tylenol, and aspirin. Some of these medication work by reducing the swelling in nerves and muscles, and Tylenol interferes with the pain signals that are sent to the brain. Patients may find that modifying their sitting or sleeping positions can help to avoid aggravating the pain. Many activities can be avoided or minimized, temporarily, during the early days of the lower back pain.2
Why Back Stretches?
Stretching is a great form of lower back pain treatment. Stretches allow the body to build strength and flexibility. In general, patients do not want to start trying lower back exercises immediately after being injured. However, according to research, exercise is one of the best treatment options as soon as it is safe to try. Yoga is one practice which encourages stretching. Stretching helps to keep the back muscles from becoming tight and inflexible. Exercises and stretches also encourage the body to release endorphins, which act as natural pain relievers. Patients who are new to yoga might benefit from an instructor. The instructor could provide assistance in a class setting, or the instructor might be found in an internet video. Yoga is all about going slowly, so stretches should be performed slowly and held for at least ten seconds each. Regular breathing and relaxation are very important.3
Some of the Best Back Exercises
There are many options for lower back stretches. For a more personalized workout, patients should consult with a physical therapist, trained yoga instructor, or chiropractor. Usually, patients will find that the standard types of lower back stretches work for them. Some poses that stretch the lower back are supine cat-cow, table top with alternating knee and elbow, triangle pose, locust pose, and thread the needle. Patients should be careful when trying new poses, and patients can contact their healthcare provider if they are unsure. There are variations available which make the poses easier to do while the patient is first learning.4 Some more lower back stretches are child’s pose, lower back twist, knee-to-chest stretch, and the pelvic tilt. The stretches become deeper and more effective when patients take their time and hold each position for some time. Deep stretches are best at promoting flexibility.5
Chiropractic Care for Back Pain
In addition to self-care, chiropractic can be part of the patient’s overall combination of treatments. Chiropractic care is primarily effective in treating pain in the muscle, joints, bones, and connective tissue. Chiropractors specialize in realigning and manipulating the spine and back, but they can work on almost any area of the body. The chiropractor will examine the patient to find the cause of the pain and determine what type of treatment is best. Chiropractic manipulation is performed at the office. Chiropractors will often recommend some natural forms of self-care. These will include exercises and natural pain relievers, because chiropractors generally do not recommend medications. Chiropractic care is not for everyone, and patients who have certain conditions or regularly take some types of medications should be cautious. Patients should only seek the help of a chiropractor who has been properly trained and certified.6
Massage for Back Pain
Massage therapy can be another part of the overall treatment plan. Chiropractors and massage therapists very often work together, sometimes even within the same office. Patients should check with their healthcare provider to be sure that the condition which is causing their lower back pain is safe to be massaged. Massage aids in the healing process by increasing blood flow and endorphins while decreasing tension. Patients do not always know when they are tense. The pain from injuries is distracting. Stress and tension worsen pain. Some massage therapists employ heat therapy and aromatherapy to further relaxation and pain relief. Patients can also try self-massage at home. Performing self-massage while taking a hot shower might provide more easily accessible relief. When the body is more relaxed, it is sometimes easier to perform yoga and lower back stretches. Patients should still exercise caution when trying anything new.7
Find What Works for You
Patients need to find the balance of therapies and treatments which work best for them. Something that works for one person does not always work for another. Every patient is unique. Patients have to find medical professionals who understand the issue and are able to provide options. In some cases, stretching is all that is necessary. Patients can even find a friend or class that has similar goals so that the treatment is made into a social occasion. At the end of the day, the patient’s health and wellbeing take top priority, even if the pain is minor. Injuries worsen if they are not properly treated and healed.
Learn more about back stretches and exercises.