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3 Easy Stretches to Prevent Back Pain

From slouching at your desk to overdoing at the gym, many everyday activities can lead to back pain. Regular stretching helps protect your back by increasing flexibility and decreasing the risk of injury. Done after strengthening exercise, it also helps prevent muscle soreness.

Safe S-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g Tips

Talk with your doctor before starting a new program of back exercise, especially if you have a history of spinal problems or back injury. Then follow these general guidelines:

  • Warm up with 5 to 10 minutes of light activity. For example, walk or pedal a stationary bike at a comfortable pace. Stretching cold muscles can lead to injury.
  • Stretch slowly, avoiding bouncy or jerky movements.
  • Go only to the point where you feel mild tension. It shouldn’t hurt.
  • Relax into the stretch, and hold for at least 5 seconds.

Below are three easy stretches that help keep your back limber and healthy.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your legs extended.
  2. Lift and bend your right leg, bringing the knee toward your chest. Grasp your knee or shin with your right hand, and pull your leg as far as it will comfortably go.
  3. Remain in the knee-to-chest position while tightening your abdominal muscles and pressing your spine into the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Do the same thing lifting your left leg.
  6. Do the same thing lifting both legs at once.
  7. Repeat the sequence 10 times.

Kneeling Back Extension

  1. Begin on your hands and knees on the floor. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders with your arms straight.
  2. Rock forward, putting your weight onto your arms. Round your shoulders, and let your seat drop a little. Hold for 5 seconds.
  3. Rock backward, sitting your buttocks as close to your heels as possible. Keep your arms extended straight ahead. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Repeat 10 times.

Standing Back Arch

  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Put the palms of your hands on your lower back. Take a few slow, deep breaths to relax.
  3. Bend your upper body backwards, keeping your knees straight. Support your back with your hands. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

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