Almost everyone can benefit from stretching the soft tissues – the muscles, ligaments and tendons – in the back, legs, buttock, and around the spine. The spinal column and its contiguous muscles, ligaments and tendons are all designed to move, and limitations in this motion can make back pain worse.
Patients with ongoing back pain may find it takes weeks or months of stretching and other back exercises to mobilize the spine and soft tissues, but will find that meaningful and sustained relief of back pain will usually follow the increase in motion.
Keep the following in mind when starting a stretching routine as part of a program of back exercises:
- Wear comfortable clothes that won’t bind;
- Stretching should be pain free; do not force the body into difficult positions;
- Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which may actually 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; and
- Repeat the stretch, generally 5 – 10 times.
If one already has low back pain or neck pain, it is best to check with a physician or physical therapist to discuss whether the following neck, shoulder and lower back pain exercises should be done.