Statistics show that the vast majority of the American population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Keeping your back healthy with preventative care methods is one of the best ways you can avoid back pain down the road.
Here are some stretches that I recommend building into your wellness routine to reduce back pain and support a healthy, pain-free back.
Knees-to-Chest. Start by lying on your back on the floor. Then, hug both knees into your chest. You can either wrap your arms around the front of your knees or place your hands on the backs of your thighs. Focus on stretching and lengthening the lower back in this position. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.
Cat and Cow Stretches. Start on all fours with your spine in a neutral position. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Inhale to drop your belly and deeply arch your back. As you exhale, round your back like a cat and pull your belly in. Focus on moving the vertebrae in each part of your back (upper, middle, lower). Do 10 to 20 rounds of this exercise.
Plank. Begin again in all-fours position. Plant your hands under your shoulders and tuck your toes. Lift up so that only your hands and feet are touching the floor, and your body is in a straight, strong position from the crown of your head to your heels. If this is too difficult, you can modify by placing your knees on the floor, but still focus on keeping a strong core. Hold for as long as you can, and try to increase the duration over time.
Child’s Pose. From an all-fours position, sit your bum back on your heels with your toes untucked and the tops of your feet flat on the floor. Bow your head forward and stretch your hands in front of you. This pose is meant to stretch your back muscles and lengthen the spine. Hold this position for at least 30 seconds.
Bridge Holds. Start laying on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor close to your bum. With your arms by your side, use the strength of your glutes to lift your pelvis up towards the ceiling. Press the back of your head into the floor to protect your neck. Hold this pose, focusing on your glutes and core, for at least 30 seconds.
Figure Four. Start laying flat on your back with knees bent, just like you did in the last exercise. Place your right ankle on your left thigh just above the knee. Next, interlace your hands behind your left knee and pull both legs towards your face in their “figure-four” position. This stretch focuses on your hips, which can be a major cause of back pain. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat the stretch on the other side.
Supine Twist. For the last exercise, you will begin on your back with your arms at 90-degree angles out to the side. Draw your knees into the chest and then let them fall over to the right side. Ideally, your knees will be resting on the ground at around hip level and both of your shoulders will be planted on the floor. If this isn’t the case, just try to work towards that. You can also turn your head to the left it that is comfortable for your neck. This stretch is meant to twist your spine. Stay in this position for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
I hope you enjoy these yoga-inspired exercises to prevent back pain. Consistency is the key to a healthy spine, so do this sequence at least three times per week!