• Adam R Whatley Osteopath

Stretching for Back Pain Relief. Dynamic Osteopaths Solihull


Back pain is a huge problem but self help can often provide good back pain relief. Regularly stretching the muscles that support the spine is an important element of all back exercise treatment and prevention programs.

So what are the benefits of stretching?

  1. Reducing tension and discomfort

  2. Improving range of motion and mobility

  3. Reducing reoccurrence and to work preventative

Persistent pain or chronic pain may require weeks or months of regular stretching to successfully reduce pain. Stretches may be included as part of a physical rehabilitation program.

Tips for Stretching to Relieve Back Pain

  • Do not force the body into difficult or painful positions, stretching should be pain free.

  • Stretch slowly and avoid bouncing.

  • Hold stretches for 15 seconds to adequately lengthen muscles and improve mobility.

  • Repeat the stretches between 3 times.

  • Stretch one side of the body at a time

Below are examples of stretches targeted for the lower back in addition to the upper back and the neck

Neck and Shoulder Stretches Basic stretches for neck pain are convenient enough to be done on a regular basis throughout the day, such as at home, at work, or even in the car. Some examples include:

1) Flexion stretch

Chin to Chest. Gently bend the head forward, bringing the chin toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the back of the neck.

2) Side Flexion Stretch

Ear to Shoulder. Bend the neck to one side as if to touch the ear to the shoulder until a stretch is felt in the side of the neck. Keep the shoulders down and back in a comfortable but healthy posture.

3) Levator scapula stretch

Rest one arm against a wall or doorjamb with the elbow slightly above the shoulder, then turn the head to face the opposite direction. Bring the chin down toward the collarbone to feel a stretch in the back of the neck. It may be helpful to gently pull the head forward with the other hand to hold the stretch for the desired time.

4) Door frame stretch

Stand against a door frame, and place the forearms on the ledge with the elbows around shoulder height. Then lean forward until a stretch is felt under the collarbone.

Stretches that are not recommended include neck circles (where the head is repeatedly rolled around the neck) or quickly stretching the neck forward and backward or side to side. These stretches may cause muscles strain or place additional stress on the cervical spine.

Stretches for Low Back Pain 1) Back Flexion Stretch Lying on the back, pull both knees to the chest while simultaneously flexing the head forward until a comfortable stretch is felt across the mid and low back.

2) Knee to Chest Stretch Lie on the back with the knees bent and both heels on the floor, then place both hands behind one knee and pull it toward the chest, stretching the gluteus and piriformis muscles in the buttock.

3) Kneeling Lunge Stretch Starting on both knees, move one leg forward so the foot is flat on the ground, keeping weight evenly distributed through both hips (rather than on one side or the other). Place both hands on the top of the thigh, and gently lean the body forward to feel a stretch in the front of the other leg. This stretch affects the hip flexor muscles, which attach to the pelvis and can impact posture if too tight.

4) Piriformis Muscle Stretch Lie on the back with knees bent and both heels on the floor. Cross one leg over the other, resting the ankle on the bent knee, then gently pull the bottom knee toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock. Or, lying on the floor, cross one leg over the other and pull it forward over the body at the knee, keeping the other leg flat.

The above are representative samples of the types of stretches commonly prescribed. Most stretches are adaptable to accommodate an individual’s flexibility and level of pain, and can be made easier by using a wall, door jamb, or chair for added stability during the stretch.




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