I go to a chiropractor on a regular basis and I’ve done yoga for 25+ years so I almost never have back pain. But I know that most people do and that it usually gets worse as we age. Stretching is one way to ease the back pain that already exists … AND … to prevent further pain, which makes it pretty cool, IMO. So here are 10 ways to stretch out that pain. And be aware that all the parts of your body need stretching, not just the back itself. Our bodies are holistic – meaning all parts work together even though we sometimes forget this. These other ‘parts’ all support and link to your back and may be where some of the pain is actually coming from.
Be sure to try these stretches slowly, gently – and mindfully, meaning pay attention to your body and how it is feeling during each stretch.
We have given no ‘number of repetitions” because that it up to you, based on feedback from your body. It always knows best.
1. Chin to Chest
You will frequently find folks who recommend lowering your chin toward your chest, but that is NOT the best way to stretch that neck and upper back. This is a very subtle movement and helps the upper back enormously, so please pay close attention … you want to stretch the back of your neck but NOT by lowering your chin to your chest. Instead, hold your head as erect as possible and move your chin back towards your body.
Try both ways to see the difference:
** Lower your head toward your chest.
** Hold your head erect and move it as little as possible and move your chin, not your neck.
See the difference? #2 is much more effective.
2. Ear to Shoulder
Slowly bend your head sideways until your ear touches your shoulder. Note the stretch from your neck to your shoulders. Repeat on both sides.
3. 1 Knee to Chest
While lying on your back, position the knees in a bent position and with both hands, slowly bring one knee towards the chest. Repeat on both sides.
4. 2 Knees to Chest
While lying on your back, slowly bring both knees forward until they touch your chest. At the same time, slowly move your head forward to meet your knees as well. See the picture above to know how to do this stretch.
Stand with your feet in parallel position to your shoulders. Step back on the right foot and bend the left knee putting the weight on the right hip. Bend further while keeping your right foot straight. Repeat on both sides.
6. Crossed knees stretch
While lying on your back, cross one leg over the other knee. With both hands, slowly bring one knee towards the chest stretching the buttocks.
7. Hamstrings standing stretch
While standing, slowly bend forward and try to reach for your toes while keeping the legs straight.
8. Hamstring stretch with a chair
Have two chairs ready. Sit on one and put up one of your legs on the other chair. Try to reach for your toes.
9. Hamstring stretch with a towel
Wrap a towel around your foot and while lying on your back, slowly bring a leg up using the towel.
10. Hamstring stretch against a wall
While lying on your back with your buttocks against the wall slowly put a leg up on the wall pulling the knee using the towel.
IMPORTANT: if your back problems are severe enough to need the help of a professional, check with them before doing any of these stretches.