Back stretches are an important part of any back exercise program. Stretching the back muscles and ligaments is a good way to prevent injury. Stretching is also an important part of the rehabilitation of back muscle and ligament injuries.
Before stretching any muscles, it is wise to first warm up the body with some mild cardiovascular exercise. This activity gets the blood flowing and increases the elasticity of the muscles. Stretches should always be performed slowly and in a controlled manner. The movement should push to the point of resistance, but not to the point of pain. Stretches should be static, not bouncy. Bouncing during a stretch is a common cause of back muscle or ligament injury.
This dialog provides important information about stretching for back pain relief.
Different stretches are designed to accomplish different goals:
Some stretches are done primarily to limber up the muscles and ligaments for further activity. These type of stretches are commonly done as part of a 15 minute warm up before a sport or other physical activity.
Other stretches are designed to increase soft tissue flexibility. These stretches are most effective when held for an extended period of time. Extended stretching will also increase the usable range of motion in a muscle or joint. In order for these types of stretches to be useful, they must be performed regularly over a long timeline. Do not expect significant results quickly when it comes to increasing overall flexibility.
Still other stretches are designed to act as a stand alone exercise. These stretches require physical effort to maintain. These back muscle stretches will increase flexibility and range of motion, but will also increase muscle mass and strength. Many of these are found in various forms of exercise therapy for back pain, such as yoga and Pilates. These are certainly the most efficient forms of stretching, since they accomplish more than one goal at once.
There are many types of stretches which can be used to actively treat back pain. Some are individual exercises, while others are involved and intricate routines.
Physical therapy is one of the most widely utilized conservative treatments for back ache, regardless of the diagnosed cause of symptoms. Patients are often prescribed multiple rounds of therapy and complementary healing methods, such as heat, ice, hydrotherapy, massage and TENS use. If the patient does not respond, they might be advised to consider surgical intervention.
As far as the results of stretching for back pain, most patients report minor and temporary relief to one degree or another, while some fall on both extreme ends of the spectrum:
A few patients find almost complete resolution of pain from stretching regularly, although it is never sure whether the activity actually enacted the cure, a placebo is in effect or whether the causative condition simply got better with time. Other patients find that stretching makes their pain worse and they usually suffer through therapy sessions until they can't take it anymore and move on to a more drastic method of care.
It is important to consult your back doctor before starting any program of stretching for back ache treatment. It is also crucial to understand the exact mechanics and proper technique of each stretch. Poor form can do more harm than good.
I would recommend working out a stretching program with a qualified physician, chiropractor or physical therapist. You can also hire a personal fitness trainer at your local health facility to assist you in this goal. Make sure to learn the proper technique correctly and follow it closely every time.
Stretching can be a valuable tool in your back pain treatment arsenal. However, do not place too much hope in stretches or exercises as being the means to a full and permanent cure. Although such rare events do occur, most patients are lucky to find temporary and partial symptomatic relief while going about looking for other methods of actually resolving their pain for good.
At least stretches and exercises are also very good for your general health and have no risky side effects. Therefore, any benefit you gain to help your back or neck pain will be a real bonus.
By popular demand, I wrote a book detailing my own back exercises and stretches program which is available worldwide on our product page.