We’ve all been there. You go to lift something and feel a pain halfway between the starting point and the destination. Or you were running around hitting a tennis ball, shooting buckets, tossing around a football, or anything you might not do very often and your back goes out.
We have many muscles that make up our body, and some of those muscles support the spinal column in your back. Having strong muscles in your back as well as your abdomen will work wonders to help ward off back pain. But, having flexible muscles in your back is just as important as having strong muscles.
When muscles are cold or underused it is hard to get them as flexible as they need to be to work well without pain. If you’ve been sedentary and decide to participate in an activity that requires some form of exertion, you are asking your back to perform a task that it is not prepared for. The result? Back pain.
Stretch out your muscles to get them ready for action!
Stretching is important for your muscles. It works as a wakeup call. Stretching your muscles says “Get ready. We are about to move.” Muscles that are stretched routinely are more flexible, not only for the immediate strenuous activity, but throughout the day, weeks, months, and beyond. If your job is physically demanding, stretching each day is a good idea. You’ll notice even after the first time you stretch, you will feel more flexible and energized. That small amount of movement gets the blood moving and sends more oxygen into the muscle tissue.
How do you go about stretching? Are all stretches good for the back?
There is a technique to each stretch and you want to stretch the muscle in the right way. Incorrect stretching could cause you frustration and further pain to your back. Here are a few stretches to get you started: (use a mat to cushion your back and wear comfortable clothing).
1. Flexing your back – Lying flat with your back on the mat, pull your knees to your chest. At the same time, lift your head, aiming your chin for your chest. Hold for a few seconds and return to the beginning position. Consciously push your abdomen in toward the floor at the same time so there is no space between the small of your back and the floor.
2. Leg stretch – Lying flat with your back on the mat and knees bent, feet on mat, reach and lace your hands behind one knee and pull it towards your chest. This stretch works one hip flexor at a time. The hip flexors support your lower back. Return to start and stretch the opposite leg.
3. Cross leg stretch – Lie on your back with knees bent and feet on mat. Take one leg and cross it over the other just above that knee. Hold behind the bent knee of the lower leg and pull both legs towards your chest. Be careful with this stretch and move slowly. It stretches the hip flexor, the lower back and the muscles of the buttock that can contribute to back pain. Be sure to press your abdomen toward the floor to eliminate any space between the small of your back and the mat.
It doesn’t take very long at all to complete these simple stretches. Make stretching a part of your regular meditation time each day. Relax your mind and strengthen your body at the same time. Then you’ll be ready to jump up and tackle your day!