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Back Pain in Winnipeg? Try these Stretches

Back pain is one of the most common complaints people have as they start to age. The most common joke at birthday parties is that “My back is getting stiffer, guess it’s almost time for a walker!”. While it can be fun to joke about noticing these age-related body changes, back pain itself isn’t really a funny. It can be a chronic, serious, and debilitating pain that stops you from living your best life.

Before I became a team member here at Westwood Family Chiropractic I was very active and found myself injuring or straining my lower back quite often. I hadn’t been introduced to Chiropractic care, so when I was experiencing the worst of my back pain I saw an Athletic Therapist. She explained to me that stretching can help back pain and prevent it from coming back. She gave me a list of exercises (to strengthen certain muscles in my back) and stretches to ease out the kinks I was feeling. Wouldn’t you know it, those stretches started helping me almost immediately and I STILL refer to them to this day.

If you are feeling pain in your back, consult with a Chiropractor first to make sure there are no underlying causes you might not be noticing. Once you do, they too will recommend stretches to you. They do this, because stretching has been shown to strengthen weak muscles that aren’t working hard enough, relax muscles that are working too hard, increase your range of motion to prevent further injury, and to strengthen and maintain spine flexibility.

Stretching releases endorphins that make you feel happy!

The following stretches are ones that have been found to most actively alleviate back pain and prevent its return!

1. TRUNK ROTATION

trunk rotation

  • Trunk rotation works by improving the mobility of your spine while allowing the muscles on the side of your trunk to relax.
  • To do this stretch, lie down on your back with arms at your side. Keeping your shoulders and upper back flat on the ground, bend one knee and grab it with your opposite arm. Keep your other leg straight, and slowly bring your leg across your body allowing your hip to come off the ground. Rotate your leg towards the floor until a stretch is felt. Repeat this stretch on the other side. Hold the stretch for 5 seconds and repeat it ten times.

2. CHILD’S POSE

Child's pose

  • This is a popular yoga pose for a reason! Child’s Pose relaxes and stretches your lower back while also increasing mobility and stretch in your upper spine.
  • Start on your hands and knees. Sit your hips back while reaching your arms out forward until a stretch is felt in your back. You may also feel a stretch in your shoulders. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

3. CAT-COW

cat-cow-1cat-cow-2

  • Cat-Cow helps strengthen your abdominal and back muscles while maintaining movement in your spine.
  • This pose will happen on your hands and knees. Start by keeping the spine neutral or flat. Inhale and arch your spine towards the ceiling, engaging your abs. Hold for 5 seconds, then exhale and arch your spine and stomach towards the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, then repeat the sequence 10 times.

4. HAMSTRING

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  • Sitting a lot during the day causes our hamstring muscles to tighten. This then pulls and puts pressure on our lower back especially when we do forward bending movements. Having flexible hamstrings decreases that stress to your back.
  • Sitting down on the floor, place one leg out straight in front of you, and bend the other leg in a triangle. Keeping your back flat (no rounding!), lean forward by hinging at your hip and reach towards the foot of your straight leg until a stretch is felt. This can sometimes feel very intense but hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Repeat this on your other side and do 10 reps total.

5. HIP FLEXOR

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  • As with our hamstrings, our hip flexors can become very tight when sitting for long periods of time. When our hip flexors are tight, they can cause our hip muscles to pull the lower back forward when we are standing, causing stress and pressure on our lower backs.
  • Kneeling on the floor, stretch one leg behind you. Turn the knee of your bent leg out and towards the floor until it rests as flat as possible. Lean over towards the bent knee until you feel a stretch in your straight leg’s thigh and bent legs hip. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 times.

Dr. Klassen can also provide additional stretches that are based on your symptoms and needs!

These stretches are great for alleviating back pain, but in order to maintain the best results, stretching should be a regular part of your daily routine. It’s way easier to become tight and stiff than it is to maintain healthy flexible muscles, so consistency is key. Some easy ways to incorporate stretching into your life could include:

  • Morning and Evening stretch routines. They don’t need to take up any more than 5-10 minutes twice a day. There are tons of 5-10-minute stretch routines to be found on the internet that are specifically morning or evening stretches. With just a few minutes of time you’ll find a routine that is right for you.
  • Set a timer on your phone to remind you to get up and move around every 2-3 hours when you’re stuck at a desk working.
  • If you don’t think you’ll be able to remember to set your own alarm, there are apps for that! BreakTime, MOVE, Stand Up!, and StandApp are all easily customizable apps that let you choose how often you get a reminder to stretch! Some of these apps are free, some of them do have a price tag so be sure to check before you download!
  • If you’re worried about not doing a stretch properly or hurting yourself further, join a yoga or stretch class with a certified teacher! Group classes can be a great way to motivate yourself to stay stretching. If you’re not comfortable stretching in a group many teachers will offer private lessons, so you get one on one attention and don’t have to worry about other people being around.

Stretching makes our bodies and minds feel good. It’s a bonus to know that stretching helps decrease back pain and helps to prevent further injury. If you’re feeling sore or painful (and even if you’re not), see a Chiropractor to diagnose the issue and give some of these stretches a try and make them a regular part of your life! You’ll feel a whole lot better, and finally be able to touch your toes on command!

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