Stretches to relieve back pain

Stretching is a great way to strengthen the lower back and ease back pain. There are several simple moves that (when practised often) can reduce and eliminate low back pain by strengthening core muscles.

Key things to note before starting: 
•    Wear comfortable clothes 
•    Stretching should be pain free; don’t force the body into difficult positions 
•    Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which can tear muscles 
•    Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely 
•    Hold stretches long enough (20-30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose 
•    Repeat the stretch, generally 5-10 times 

Back flexion

While lying on your back, pull both knees to the chest while simultaneously flexing the head forward until a comfortable stretch is felt in a balled-up position.

Knee to chest stretch
While lying on your back with knees bent and both heels on the floor, place both hands behind one knee and bring it to the chest.  

Use this stretch to align your pelvis and stretch the lower back. Lie flat on your back with toes pointed to the sky. Slowly bend your right knee and pull your leg up to your chest. Wrap your arms around your thigh, knee or shin, and gently pull the knee towards your chest. Hold for 20 seconds and slowly extend the leg to starting position. Repeat three times each leg. 

Lying knee twist
Use this movement to stretch the paraspinal muscles and strengthen the abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out. Bend the right knee up and cross it over the left side of your body. Hold in a position that allows you to feel a gentle stretch though the back muscles for 20 seconds. Tighten your core muscles and rotate back to centre. Repeat three times on each side. 

Yoga cat
Start this move by kneeling on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Exhale and gently arch your spine. Inhale, tighten your core muscles and round your back, like a cat. Move slowly between movements and hold each position for 5-10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. 

Cobra stretch
This is great to stretch tight abdominal muscles and the lower back. Start by lying on your stomach with your legs extended and with palms planted on either side of your head with your forearms and elbows flat on the ground. Slowly, push your body upwards, so your weight is resting on your forearms. Make sure to keep your hips on the ground. Once you reach a position that gently stretches your abdominal muscles and lower back, hold for 10 seconds. Return to the starting position, slowly and repeat five times. 

Restful child pose
This is great at helping to relax your body. Position yourself on the floor on your hands and knees with your knees, just wider than hip distance apart. Turn your toes in to touch and push your hips backwards bending your knees. Once you reach a comfortable seated position, extend your arms forward and allow your head to fall forward into a relaxation position. Hold this for 20 seconds and then slowly return to the start position. Repeat three more times. 

Research shows that frequently embracing stretches and strengthening your back muscles can be affective in promoting long-term relief from chronic low back pain. Next time you find yourself sitting for a long period of time, do a few of our recommend stretches and, with practice, your back will be stronger than ever before. 

*This information does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a health professional before beginning any exercise programme.

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