Beyond the massage chair, here are three great stretches to help alleviate lower back pain.
When you are in the business of massage chairs, you find yourself having a lot of conversations daily with people with low back, or lumbar pain. Tightness, alignment issues, nerve damage, over-use, and even stress cause millions of people to experience pain – sometimes debilitating – in their lower back. It is certainly a primary driver for those seeking relief in a massage chair, and there is no question that short 20-minute sessions a massage chair are an outstanding addition to the daily regimen to those who suffer this all-to-common ailment.
However it is good to also consider things you can do in addition to sessions in a massage chair, which can go a long way towards relieving lower back pain. Perhaps the most common and effective is stretching. It seems we all intuitively realize that stretching can be beneficial as we age, and for good reason. It works. So here we’ve provided some routines you might integrate into your own activity to help make you feel better if you are among those with lumbar issues.
Bear in mind that serious injuries resulting in low back pain may require you consult your physician or specialist – and if you fall into this group, definitely seek advice before initiating any stretching routine to be sure you are safe, and this goes for utilizing a massage chair as well. You may be prescribed pain relievers, told to apply hot and cold packs, or other remedies. Ultimately, you will most likely be advised how to properly stretch for lower back pain relief if you have any serious injury.
Just as lower back pain is often the result of repeated injury due to poor posture or weakened muscles, it can also be the result of overuse of muscles (such as exercise of repetitive activities; e.g. lifting, bending or pulling). In either case, strengthening the muscles that support your spinal column by learning some of the best stretching exercises can have favorable effect on your overall back health, and can offer lots of lower back pain relief.
Assuming you are healthy enough to stretch your back muscles, start slowly. Lower back pain is very common among adults but can be helped with gentle strengthening exercises. These back strengthening exercises may extend beyond your back to your stomach and legs, but in any case, strengthening your entire spinal support column can.
As a bonus, exercise may not only help decrease low back pain, but it may also help you recover faster from future injuries. It may also reduce the risk of disability from back pain.
Exercises to reduce low back pain are not complicated. Don’t let the fear of pain keep you from trying gentle activity. You should try to stretch as soon as you notice back pain, and gradually increase your activity level. If you do nothing…too little activity can lead to loss of flexibility, strength, and endurance, and then to more pain. If you can afford it, a great massage chair helps greatly to support those muscles that are crying out for more attention.
Almost anyone will benefit from stretching the soft tissues – the muscles, tendons and ligaments – located in your back, legs, buttock, and especially around the spine. The spinal column and its contiguous muscles, tendons and ligaments are designed to move like a smooth piece of machinery, so any limitations to this motion often make back pain feel worse.
You may find that it takes months or weeks of stretching, but you will also find that in addition to the pain relief from stretching, you will also observe an increase in your range of motion. Certainly most people find that even the slightest bit of stretching feels good, and the sensations of increased blood flow are almost immediate, as is the feeling of more supple muscles.
Before diving into the Top 3 stretches for lower back pains, lets first start with a few guidelines for any stretching program.
Guidelines to Any Stretching Program
- Stretching should be done slowly
- Stretching should be pain free – there is no benefit if over-stretching makes it worse!
- Ease your body into new positions
- Avoid bouncing because it may actually injure your muscles
- Stretch in an open area, with plenty of room to maneuver your body without restraint
- Try to hold stretches for 30 seconds so that your muscles and joints to become loose
- Repeat stretches so that your muscles build up to the increased activity
Ok, let’s get to some great stretching exercises for lower back pain.
Top 3 Stretches for Lower Back Pain Relief
In an upright, seated position, gently tilt your head forward bringing your chin to your chest until you feel the stretch at the back of your neck. Depending on your level of tightness, you may feel tension running from the base of the skull all the way to the lower back. Tilt only until you feel tension, and hold this stretch for the count of 10. Release, and repeat 2-3 cycles. After each flexion stretch, move your head up and down and around to initiate blood flow and to continue to loosen the muscles of the neck.
NOTE: When moving your head and neck, you may hear some slight crackling or even some grinding noises. If you do, this is actually quite common; most people at some point have heard cracking or grinding noises in their neck upon movement.
These sounds are called crepitus, are usually painless and typically do not represent anything serious. Crepitus can occur in any moveable joint in the body, and there are many moveable joints in the neck. The neck joints are bathed in an oily-like substance call synovial fluid, which allows motion to freely occur in between the bones. However, if the neck cracking noise is accompanied by pain, swelling, or some other concerning symptoms, then it may represent a problem that should be checked by a qualified health professional.
Lateral flexion stretch
Again, in an upright seated position, gently tilt your ear toward your shoulder until you feel that stretch in your neck. You should feel the tension in your neck, and into the trapezius muscles of the shoulders. You may find that one side is more flexible and tolerant of this stretch than the other, and this is quite common — and a good sign of muscular imbalance in the neck and shoulders. Repeat this lateral flexion stretch 2- times on each side, each time holding the tension/stretch for the count of 10. As before, fter each flexion stretch, move your head up and down towards each shoulder and around to initiate blood flow and to continue to loosen the muscles of the neck.
Back flexion stretch
While lying on your back, gently pull both knees to your chest while simultaneously tilting your head forward. You should feel as if you were forming a ball with your body, and enjoy the stretch in your back. This is one the best stretching exercises for lower back pain. Many yoga practitioners will refer to this as “resetting the spine” as it has the tendency to line up the vertebrae of the back. This movement will also gently stretch the lower back muscles.
There are many lists of good stretches for lower back pain out there – however from our experience with massage chairs and working with our customers, we’ve found these three stretches to be particularly effective. Try them for yourself, and if you follow the guidelines here you should reap the rewards of performing the best stretching exercises for lower back pain relief – and better overall back health.