About four million Australians suffered from back problems in 2017-2018; the latest year for which data is available.
Whether your work involves manual labour or hunching over a computer all day, there’s a good chance that if you don’t identify as having a back problem, you still have a posture problem. And posture problems can lead to serious back problems! So what can you do about this from the comfort of your own home? Simple stretching exercises can go a long way to helping with back pain and bad posture, so long as the exercises are performed regularly and the correct technique is used.
Below we take a look at 3 good stretches you can perform at home. Ideally once you’ve mastered each stretch, you can use it, whenever and wherever you feel the need.
NB – we can’t emphasise enough that using the correct technique when performing stretches is vital. If a stretch is causing you pain, discontinue the stretch, and seek advice. It may be that you are not performing the stretch correctly or, that the stretch is not suitable for your body’s condition. If you’re concerned about your technique, consider enrolling in introductory Pilates or Yoga classes. Instructors in both fields go through extensive training and study and can offer you tips and advice on how to best stretch your body.
#1 Supported Fish
This stretch is drawn straight from Yin Yoga. It’s incredibly easy to perform, which makes it an ideal stretch to do without instruction. The pose gently stretches your chest while relaxing your back muscles. It is designed to help improve your posture.
To perform the stretch: grab two yoga blocks and set to medium high. If you don’t have yoga blocks, firmly rolled-up towels will work too. Start by lying flat on the ground and resting one block between your shoulder blades and the other behind your head. Place your arms by your sides and keep your shoulders well down. Relax into the pose and you should feel a gentle stretch and opening up across your chest.
#2 Knees – Chest
This stretch is designed to strengthen the muscles in your lower back and can help reduce pain and tension in that region.
To perform the stretch: lie on your back on a hard surface, bend your knees and plant your feet flat. Lock the fingers of both hands together under one knee and then gently pull that knee up to your chest. Pull the knee up until you can feel a comfortable stretch in your lower back. You can hold the position for up to 60 seconds, but if it starts to feel uncomfortable, aim for 30 or even 20 seconds. Slowly lower the knee back down and place your foot flat on the ground. Then repeat the stretch with your other knee. You’ll get the most impact out of this stretch if you perform if 3-4 times for each leg.
#3 Kneeling Lunge
This stretch is designed to loosen the hip flexor muscles. When your hip flexors are tight, it can contribute to lower back pain.
To perform the stretch: kneel down on one knee and place your other leg with the foot flat on the floor and the knee bent – your thigh should be parallel with the floor. You are now in a kneeling lunge pose. To perform the lunge, place both hands on the outstretched thigh and lean forward slowly until you feel a good stretch in your opposite leg. Swap legs and repeat the stretch several times for each leg.
We hope these simple stretch ideas have given you a starting point to further explore a stretching program to support your back health.
For chronic back pain and posture problems, it’s always best to consult a professional. At Sports & Family Chiropractic, we have more than 4 decades experience helping clients. Contact us today for a consult.