How To Stretch Your Back for Pain Relief: 5 Key Exercises

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Stretch the spine and improve your posture in 30 days with these 20-second daily stretches.

Many of us spend way too many hours in the day sitting with bad posture. Postures like rounded shoulders arched back, and text necks are increasingly common and can lead to pains and aches in the body over time.

Fixing and having a proper posture not only helps you stand a little taller but also prevents lower back pain and other discomforts. It can also help develop flexibility, mobility, balance, and strength.

The good news is, all it takes is a few simple daily stretches that lengthen the compressed muscles and reduce tightness. Spend 20 seconds or so in each stretch pose and repeat if you have extra time.

Perform these regularly and when you feel the stress in your back and shoulders to improve your posture in the next 30 days.

5 Simple Daily Stretches to Protect Your Spine and Improve Your Posture

5 Simple Daily Stretches to Protect Your Spine and Improve Your Posture

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1. Child’s Pose

Image credit // Menshealth.com

Child’s pose is a part of nearly every yoga session. It is often used as a “home base” where practitioners can return if they are worn out or uncomfortable with a certain pose. Also, it can significantly help to improve back and shoulder flexibility.

How to Perform

  • Start on your hands and knees.
  • Next, shift your weight backward so your buttocks rest on your heels.
  • At the same time, inch your hands forward as far as possible.
  • By doing so, you’ll essentially be imparting a “traction” force through your spine.
  • Hold this stretch for 10-15 deep breaths, or 30 seconds and repeat 4 times per session.

2. Cat-Camel

Cat-Camel

Cat-camel, also known as cat-cow, is another yoga staple. This move is an excellent choice for those who sit a lot, as it provides an active massage for the upper portion of the spine.

How to Perform:

  • Place your hands on the ground, directly beneath your shoulders.
  • At the same time, place your knees on the ground, directly beneath your hips.
  • Next, allow your stomach to drop toward the floor as you simultaneously lift your head up, looking forward.
  • Hold this position for 5 deep breaths, or 15 seconds.
  • Then, reverse the motion by lifting the middle of your back up towards the ceiling while simultaneously tucking your chin to your chest.
  • Hold this position for 5 deep breaths, or 15 seconds.
  • Continue to alternate between these positions 10 times per session.

3. Thread the Needle

Thread the Needle
Image // Naturalforce.com

The shoulders and upper back can often tighten up in response to our daily lives. Sitting and slouching can lead to stiffness in these areas. Luckily, a stretch such as threading the needle can counteract many of the effects of slouching!

How to Perform:

  • Start on your hands and knees, with your back flat and strong.
  • Next, reach your right arm underneath your chest toward the left side of the room.
  • If possible, rest your head and right shoulder on the ground as you hold this stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Then, switch sides, holding for 30 seconds on the left side.
  • Complete 5 reps per side, per session.

4. Prone Scorpion Stretch

Prone Scorpion Stretch

A scorpion pose is a great option for athletes who are looking for ways to improve their hip and low back mobility. However, you should proceed with caution before trying this stretch, as it can put a ton of strain on the spine if you aren’t warmed up or mobile enough when you first perform it.

How to Perform:

  • Lie on your stomach with your arms straight out to the sides.
  • Next, lift your left leg off the ground, keeping your left knee bent.
  • Open up your hips as far as you can to the left as you aim to place your left foot on the ground on the outside of your right hip.
  • Hold this stretch for 3 breaths, then switch sides. Perform 10 reps per session.

5. Gate Pose (Parighasana (par-ee-GAHS-ah-nah))

Gate Pose (Parighasana (par-ee-GAHS-ah-nah))

This pose emphasizes the muscles situated on the sides of the trunk. By keeping these tissues loose and flexible, you can prevent many different types of back pain.

How to Perform:

  • Start kneeling.
  • Then, kick your right leg straight out to the side, keeping most of your weight on your left knee.
  • Slowly ease into the stretch by shifting your right leg out further to the side and by shifting your weight further in that direction as well.
  • Then, reach your right hand to the ground as you reach your left hand toward the ceiling.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times on each side per session.

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Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS
Bennett Richardson, DPT, PT, CSCS

Bennett Richardson is a physical therapist and writer out of Pittsburgh, PA. He has maintained certification as a strength and conditioning coach (CSCS) since 2014. He then went on to earn a BS in exercise science and a doctorate degree in physical therapy, both from Slippery Rock University. In his free time, Bennett likes to read and exercise.

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