If you’ve been battling back pain, you’re not alone in the fight. Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability around the world, and 8 out of 10 people have back problems at any given time.
“Injury to a muscle or ligament is the most common cause of back pain,” states Back Pain Centers of America. Additionally, “Getting older also increases the risk of back problems as the natural process of degeneration occurs.”
The good news is that adding a little stretching routine can go far to alleviate that pain in your back. Here are 10 stretches that you can try today to jumpstart your progress to better back health.
- The cannon ball stretch.
While lying on your back, pull your knees and head into your chest. Wrap your arms around your knees and form a cannon ball. Hold for a 5-count, then release. This stretch targets both the upper and lower back.
- The full body stretch.
Move from the cannon ball position to stretching your toes and your fingertips in opposing directions. You should feel a gentle stretch all along your spine.
- Knee to chest stretch.
Still on your back, bring one knee up to your chest, wrapping your arms around the knee and hugging it. Repeat on the other side. This stretch can be felt in the pelvis area and the lower back.
- The twist.
Lie flat on your back and slowly twist from your hips, using your hand to push your right leg across your body to the left side. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side. This stretch targets the paraspinal muscles.
- The cat and cow stretch.
This is a common yoga stretch that relieves tension in your spine. Get on your hands and knees with your limbs directly under shoulders and hips. On an exhale, arch your back and drop your head for the cat pose. Hold for 5 seconds and then let your back drop while raising your head for the cow pose.
- Downward dog stretch.
From the cat and cow stretch, lift your body into a triangle shape, with your weight resting on your toes and hands, and your butt in the air. Gently, straighten out your limbs as much as possible. You should feel a stretch all throughout your body.
- The cobra stretch.
Lower yourself onto your mat, face down. With your elbows close to your sides, and your hands resting near your head, raise your head and shoulders off the mat. From there, using your hands and your arm strength, push your upper body off the mat as far as it will go, while keeping your thighs on the mat.
- The child stretch.
This stretch is taken from yoga, and helps alleviate lower back pain. Kneel on your mat, with your knees positioned slightly wider than your hips. Sit yourself down on your heels. Then continue by lowering your upper body over your thighs until your head touches the mat. (Or as close as your head can get to the mat.) Slide your hands along the mat out in front of you as far as you can stretch. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, or for however long the stretch feels good.
- The neck stretch.
Stretching your neck muscles can help alleviate stiffness and pain along your upper back. Sit or stand as you do this stretch. Let your head drop forward until you feel a stretch along the back of your neck. Roll the head gently from side to side to spread the stretch around.
- The hug stretch.
The hug stretch is one of the easiest stretches to perform. Sit or stand and simply wrap your arms around your upper chest, as you would for an embrace. Your right hand should clasp your left shoulder and your left hand, your right shoulder. You should feel a stretch along the shoulder blades and upper spine.
Try these stretches the next time your back begins to give you grief. And you might be surprised at how much better you feel a quick stretch session.
Image Credits: Flickr