Back pain is a common problem, and the area is often the site of a lot of pent-up stress. We depend on our backs for support, whether doing heavy-lifting or sitting at a desk all day. Without stretching out those muscles, they can tense up under the constant pressure, possibly resulting in lifelong injury.
The following stretches are based on simple yoga exercises, and will help lengthen and strengthen your spine and back muscles. When performing these exercises, you should always remember to breathe. Oxygen will help you relax and aid your flexibility. Try and hold each stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds.
Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Your knees should be directly under your hips, your hands and arms below your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and come onto the balls of your feet. Lift your hips and try and straighten your knees, creating an inverted v-shape with your body. Keep your back flat by stretching your arms, sucking in your stomach, and pushing your chest toward your legs. Your feet and hands should be flat on the floor.
Sit on your knees with your legs and feet tucked under you. Lie your torso on your knees – or as close as you can – and roll your arms in front of you. Stretch your arms as far out as possible and feel the stretch in your upper back, between your shoulders.
Knees to chest
Lie flat on your back, keeping your head on the floor but pulling your chin slightly toward your chest to keep the spine straight. With your legs straight out, pull one leg toward your chest, hugging your knees. Hold, and then repeat with other leg. You can also do both legs at the same time to really feel the stretch in your lower back.
To attempt the sitting spinal twist, sit cross-legged on the floor. Place your right foot on the floor behind the left leg, and bend your knee upward, bringing it toward your chest. Place your right hand on the ground for balance, and bring your left elbow to thin side of your bent knee. Pressing the elbow against the knee for leverage, use it as leverage to twist your body to the right.
Cobra pose stretches the muscles in the lower back. Lie face down on the floor and place your palms beside your shoulders. Slowly push up, lifting the front of your body, but keeping your hips and legs on the floor. Straighten your arms as much as possible, and tilt your head up. Keep your shoulders down and back, away from your ears.