Regularly stretching the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the spine is an important element of all back exercise programs. Stretches designed to alleviate neck and back pain are likely to be prescribed by a doctor, physical therapist, or spine specialist.
Benefits of stretching include:
Reducing tension in muscles supporting the spine; tension in these muscles can worsen pain from any number of back pain conditions
Improving range of motion and overall mobility
Reducing risk of disability caused by back pain
Pain that lasts longer than 3 months (chronic pain) may require weeks or months of regular stretching to successfully reduce pain. Stretches may be included as part of a physical therapy program, and/or recommended to be done at home on a daily basis.
General Tips for Stretching to Relieve Back Pain
Keeping the following in mind can help effectively stretch the muscles without injury:
Wear comfortable clothing that won’t bind or constrict movements
Do not force the body into difficult or painful positions—stretching should be pain free
Move into a stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which can cause muscle strain
Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely
Hold stretches long enough (15 to 30 seconds) to adequately lengthen muscles and improve range of motion
Repeat a stretch between 2 and 5 times—a muscle usually reaches maximum elongation after about 4 repetitions
Stretch one side of the body at a time.
*Always speak to a physician before beginning a new exercise routine.