Question: Can stretching help with my back and joint pain?
Answer: Absolutely! Regular stretching can reduce back and joint pain by 30% or more.
Did you feel any aches, pains or stiffness when you got out of bed this morning? How about when you’ve been sitting in one position too long? This most likely happens because your muscles and surrounding tissue have become tight, rigid and stagnant. This tightness can cause throbbing, aching and pain.
Stretching at least once per day (preferably in the morning) reduces pain by increasing blood flow throughout your body. It also makes you more flexible and limber, which creates more looseness in your muscles and joints. Health studies show that even the lingering pain from certain injuries and degenerative conditions (i.e. arthritis, scoliosis, injuries do to accidents and exercise) can be reduced by 25-30% or more by incorporating a daily stretching routine into your life.
Sample Stretch Routine
This is a sample 5 to 10 minute stretch routine that will help you loosen the major areas of your body. You should do this routine when you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night.
- Back Stretch (AKA “Cat Stretch”): Get down on your hands and knees in a solid base. With your hands shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart, round your back toward the ceiling. Imagine that there is a string attached to your mid back pulling you upward. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Then, drop your stomach down and arch your back. Imagine that same string pulling your stomach toward the ground. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Finally, return to a rest position. Do this 3 times.
- Full Body Stretch: Stand tall, with your feet slightly less than shoulder width apart. Place your hands over your head and reach upward as if you were trying to touch the ceiling. Do this for 15 seconds. Next, maintaining the natural curve in your lower back, bend forward at your hips and reach for your toes. Make sure to bend slowly and try to keep your knees as straight as possible. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Hold for 15 seconds and then return to the starting position. Do this entire cycle 3 times.
- Quad Stretch: Stand tall, with your feet about shoulder width apart. Reach back and grab your left foot with your left hand. Slowly pull your left leg back as if you were trying to touch your foot to your buttocks. Pull until you feel a good stretch (if it becomes uncomfortable, stop!) and hold for 15 seconds. Then return your left leg to its original position. Hold on to a chair or wall for balance if necessary. Do this 2 times and Repeat on opposite side.
- Cross-Body Stretch (AKA Shoulder Stretch): Stand tall, with your feet shoulder width apart. Reach your left arm across your body, bringing it as close to your chest as possible. Next, lock your right arm underneath your left at the elbow (Your arms will look like a “cross” in this position). Gently hold and slightly increase pressure for 15 seconds. Then return your arm to the side. Do this 2 times and repeat on opposite side.
- Neck Stretch: Stand tall and keep your shoulders relaxed. Move your head downward toward the right (as if you were touching your ear to your shoulder). Hold for 15 seconds. Next, slowly “roll” your head down and forward (as if to touch your chin to your chest). Hold for 15 seconds. Next, slowly “roll” your head toward the left (just like you did toward the left) and hold for 15 seconds. Finally, slowly “roll” your head back (as if you were touching the back of your head to your upper back). Hold for 15 seconds. Then return to your starting position.
Things to remember while stretching:
- Stretching should be, AT MOST, mildly uncomfortable. Not painful! If you experience any pain then stop immediately.
- Move your body into each position gently and slowly.
- When stretching, hold each position without rocking or “bouncing”. Jerky movements may lead to muscle and connective tissue damage.
- If you are engaging in any workout routine, be sure to stretch before and after sessions to keep your body loose, help with muscle soreness and to prevent injury.
The above routine should give you noticeable results in the amount of flexibility and the reduction of back and joint pain. However, if you suffer from chronic or severe conditions, make sure you visit your doctor and alternative health providers (chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists) along with doing your daily stretches!
Dream Fit. Live Fit.