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Stretches For Back Ache

09 February 2022

The Trouble With Back Ache

Almost all of us have experienced back ache, pains and strains, especially if we’re used to sitting at office desks for 8 hours a day or more. Working at chairs with poor back support or lack of ergonomic support can worsen the everyday aches we all run into from time to time. Incorporating the right movement and stretches can help relieve back ache, and keep us feeling well, healthy, and comfortable.

What are the best stretches to do for back ache? Fortunately, we’ve found the best gentle stretches for the most common back ache complaints.

A quick note before we get to it; remember to approach any new physical movement with care, and be mindful to breath steadily throughout to avoid causing any further damage to your back. Sharp pain when moving can be a sign of an injury that needs further assistance past gentle stretching, so don’t be afraid to seek further medical or professional assistance if you find stretching isn’t helping, or has caused any further pain.

Now, keep reading to find some helpful hints that could be your next best kept secret against back pain.

Child’s Pose, or Balasana

Child’s Pose, traditionally known as Bālāsana, is a kneeling asana in modern yoga practice.  Child’s Pose can be used to relieve physical and emotional stress, calm and focus the mind and body, and relieve fatigue. It also implements gentle stretching within the body, particularly around the hips, thighs, glutes, lower back, knees, and ankles.

It also works into the spinal extensors which can help relieve pain and tension from your lower back, along your spine, and even into your neck and shoulders. The gentle relaxation this pose promotes within the body, alongside the calming affects on the mind, can help promote flexibility, decrease inflammation,  and increase blood circulation along the spine.

This stretch can be done alone, or as part of a gentle morning, afternoon, or evening routine. Modifications can be made to this stretch as needed for you as an individual. A rolled-up towel or cushion on top or underneath your thighs can provide further support in the pose, or you may find more comfort in Child’s Pose by widening the span of your knees and placing a cushion underneath your forehead to support your range of movement.

To perform Child’s Pose:

  • With hands and knees on the ground, sink bank through your hips to gentle sit on your heels
  • Hinge at the hips as you fold forward, to rest with your belly on your thighs
  • Extending your arms above your head in front of you, rest with palms on the floor
  • Breathe gently and deeply, allow your body to relax into the position and relax any areas of tension or tightness within the body
  • Hold this pose for up to 1 minute to feel the benefit within the body
  • Move gently and slowly when coming out of Child’s Pose

Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis muscle sits deeps with the buttocks, and can be an important area in relieving back ache, in particular in relieving tightness and pains in the buttocks, hips, and lower back. There are several options in performing a stretch of the piriformis muscle.

To perform a piriformis stretch:

  • Lie on your back, bend both knees, keeping    your feet flat on the floor with arms at your sides
  • Lift your right ankle to rest across the top of your left thigh
  • Place your hands behind your left thigh and pull your thigh towards your chest until you feel a deep, gentle stretch
  • Hold this position, before switching to repeat this movement on the other side.

An alternative piriformis stretch:

  • Lie on your back, bend both knees, keeping your feet flat on  the floor with arms at your sides
  • Put both hands behind your right thigh, pulling your thigh into your chest until you feel a deep, gentle stretch
  • Hold this position, before switching to repeat this movement on the other side 

Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic tilts are an incredibly simple, but diverse and effective stretch for a range of back aches and complaints. This stretch helps builds strength in your abdominal muscles and lower back, and also relieves stress from compacting vertebra in the lower half of the spine. The pelvic tilt stretch can also relieve tension and spasms in the glutes and hamstrings.

To reap the benefits of the pelvic tilt stretch, follow these steps:

  • Lie on your back with feet flat on the floor, both knees bent
  • Contract your abdominal muscles - think of a “pulling in” motion - as you gently flatten your back against the floor (a good cue for this if you’re struggling is to place one hand flat underneath your back, and aim to touch your back to your hand)
  • Hold this position, breathing normally
  • Release, and relax