Back health is as important to the ageless body as heart health. A healthy, strong, flexible, and pain-free back lets you live an active and vibrant life. The opposite — a back that’s weak, stiff, and suffers from chronic pain will limit what you can do physically and dampen your desires to be more adventurous.
The statistics are stacked against most people. From the long-hour desk job and commute, the convenient comforts that stop us from being more active, the immense stress that many people live under, and the pervasive processed foods that promote inflammation — all these things contribute to the average person suffering back problems at some point in their lives.
What can you do to prevent back pain?
Especially your back, hips, legs, and chest because tightness in these areas can contribute to back tightness and pain.
Strengthen your back, pelvic area, and core muscles to help support your back.
One of the best things you can do to promote a healthy and pain-free body is to be less stressed. Stress feeds aches and pains — and even disease — so find ways that work for you to help relieve some of life’s pressures.
Consume foods that are anti-inflammatory and avoid foods that cause inflammation to ward off chronic pain and disease.
Get more sleep and down time to support total body health.
Here are some of the stretches from my Back Care 101: Relieve Lower Back Pain and Bend Like Before online course and video set:
A) Great stretch for your lower back. As you bring the knee across the body, try to keep your shoulders down. Look to the opposite direction to increase the spine-twist-stretch feeling.
B) A more intense version of stretch A achieved by crossing the one leg over the other and then wrapping the crossing leg foot around the calf of other. It gives a deeper stretch to the lower back, stretches the chest as you keep the shoulder down and look to the opposite direction. Also stretches key butt and leg muscles that if tight can cause the lower back to feel discomfort.
C) A simple stretch the elongates the middle and lower back muscles. It also helps to open shoulders and stretches tight chest muscles a bit. Stretch your arms forward and keep your butt down, touching your heels. Placing the forehead on the floor has a very calming effect on the body.
D) A hip stretch that targets your IT(iliotibial band) and piriformis muscle to relieve tightness. Tension in these areas can contribute to lower back pain.
E) One of the best stretches to prevent deep back pain. Stretches the side oblique and the QL (quadratus lumborum) a deep back muscle.
F) Stretches lower back, butt, side of legs, and chest. Twist as far as you are able, keeping your shoulders down, chin pulled in, and stomach pulled in.
Mimic the pictures as best you can to get the best stretch!
When should you stretch?
Do these stretches often — especially after long days at work, when you’re under a lot of pressure, and during your “cool down” phase of your work outs. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds or longer to get the most benefits. Stretching before bed also helps to calm the mind and body, helping you have a more restful sleep.
When should you NOT stretch?
Don’t stretch when your body is “cold” — warm-up your muscles to prevent injury. Don’t stretch injured muscles. If you’re in lots of pain — see your doctor and rest. (You can also check out my video on how to deal with back pain flare-ups.)