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Stretching and strengthening helps prevent back pain.
Incorporating regular bouts of back stretching and strengthening exercises can help prevent back pain that's caused by muscular tightness or weakness. When your core muscles are strong and limber, you're better able to maintain proper posture and safely distribute load throughout your spine. If you're already experiencing pain in your back, visit your medical professional before beginning a stretching or strengthening program.
You've got to be consistent with your stretching and strengthening program for the training to be effective. Incorporate the back stretches into your routine on most days of the week. If you're particularly tight, consider stretching multiple times throughout the day. Do your back-strengthening exercises three days per week while allowing a day off between each session to give your back muscles time to rest. Before stretching or strengthening, warm up your muscles with five minutes of walking.
Stretches that target the back include knee to chest, hip-rotation stretch and lower-back arches. All three stretches begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. For knee to chest, pull one of your knees to your chest with both hands and hold that stretch for about 30 seconds, and then perform the stretch on the other leg. For hip-rotation stretch, while keeping your shoulders on the ground, lower your knees to one side. Hold the rotated position and then come back up and twist the other way. To perform lower-back arches, arch your lower back up as high as you can and hold this position for five seconds. Then push your lower back into the floor and hold that position for five seconds. Repeat five times.
To strengthen the back, perform hip bridge and arm and leg reaches. To perform hip bridge, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Push your heels into the ground to pick up your hips. Hold the top position for five seconds and then control your hips back to the floor. Both arm and leg reach are performed from a quadruped position with your hands and knees on the floor. For arm reach, pick up one arm and extend it out in front of you so that it's in line with your torso and parallel to the floor. Hold the top position for five seconds and then return your arm to the floor and then switch limbs. Leg reach involves lifting one leg and extending it behind you until it's parallel to the floor. Hold the position for five seconds, and then lower your leg back down and switch sides. Medline Plus recommends beginning with five repetitions of each exercise.
In some circumstances, light stretching can be beneficial for helping to alleviate simple causes for lower back pain. However, according to Dr. Joseph Horrigan of the DISC Sports & Spine Center, you could cause additional problems and an increase in pain by stretching or doing exercises. He recommends that while hamstring stretches are often recommended to prevent pain associated with tight muscles, stretching the hamstrings when your nerves are already inflamed will further exasperate them and increase discomfort.