Back Pain? 5 Stretches to Find Relief

Back PainBack and spine pain does not discriminate.

Construction workers, accountants, and teachers are all victims of chronic suffering and torment. The leading cause of disability and missing work is back pain.

Avoid asking for painkiller medications by performing stretches and exercises that can strengthen your back and improve flexibility. Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid sedentary lifestyles (especially if your occupation requires extended periods of sitting).

If you find yourself sitting or lying down for extended periods of time, make time to move around, stretch, and hydrate. Studies show prolonged sitting puts you at a higher risk for diabetes, cancer, and cardiac arrest.

When Dr. Spivak’s office closes and you still need relief, we want to provide a list of at-home stretches specifically to target back pain.

Even if all your pain is concentrated to your back, stretches should activate the entire body. Many times the back becomes injured due to injuries and strains on other parts of the body. Holistic approaches to the medical care of your body is key to eliminating back pain.

Causes of Back and Spine Pain

While you might think you hurt your back the day the pain started, a lot of times it’s triggered by lesser known reasons including alcohol consumption and prolonged poor posture.

Stress and inactivity are also unsuspecting causes of chronic back pain.

Knowing the causes doesn’t solve your current pain, but recognizing common factors can prevent future pain.

Before You Stretch

The most elite athletes stretch before they work – we should do the exact same thing.

Any free time is acceptable for stretching. A boss probably encourages small breaks to move around and get your blood circulating.

Gently test the range of your body, and do not stretch through any pain (as this may cause injury).

Please consult Dr. Spivak or your physician before beginning these stretches. If you experience pain, stop immediately and seek medical attention.

5. Table Stretch

This stretch is appropriate only after your pain has started to subside. Since your nerves are being stretched, you want to be certain the healing process has already begun.

Hold on to a table and bend at the waist keeping your legs straight. Your body should form a perfect 90-degree angle with your face downward. Hold this form for 15 seconds and repeat three more times.

The stretch should lightly pull on the nerves from the spine to the legs. Since nerves are involved, do not overuse this stretch or pain may return.

4. Piriformis Stretch

Soccer players love this stretch (or their coach always forces them to do it).

Lay on your back and bend your knees until your feet are flat on the ground. Place your right ankle on your opposite knee and lift that knee towards your chest. Switch feet and repeat.

Additionally, the piriformis stretch can relieve knee and ankle pain and plantar fasciitis.

Do not bounce to increase your range – this can lead to injury.

3. Decompression Breathing

Stand with your toes touching and heels slightly apart. Slightly bend your knees and shift your weight onto your heels, and carefully bring them together. Reach straight up into the sky over your head and press your hands together.

When you inhale, lift your chest away from your waist. Tighten your core when you exhale to strengthen the spine. Repeat this breathing to introduce oxygen flow and improve your back.

2. Pigeon Pose

Your body will look exactly how it sounds – a pigeon!

Sit with your right knee bent and the left leg extended pointed behind you. If possible, move your right foot away from your body. If the bottom of your foot faces the ceiling, bring it back to your body.

Rest your hands on your hips and breathe deeply for 30 seconds. Many forms of yoga use this stretch. The pictures of yoga instructors performing this will look moderately different from what you are trying to accomplish.

1. Hip Stretch

Sit with your legs extended and together. Bring your right foot over your left knee. Now, bring your right knee close to your chest with your hands.

Breathe 10 deep slow breaths and repeat with your other leg. The hip stretch also loosens glutes.

Continue to stretch if it keeps the pain away. Sometimes the pain won’t subside until a few minutes after the stretching is complete.

Is The Spine Pain Still There?

These stretches and others may not completely relieve the pain. There are other minimally invasive methods to feel whole again. Dr. Carl Spivak can help put together a plan for you.

Spinal Cord Stimulation – electrical impulses block the transmission of pain from different parts of the body to the brain

This treatment replaces the pain with a tingling feeling.

Yoga – some of the above-mentioned stretches are included in different styles of yoga.

Exercise – regular exercise combined with stretching can strengthen the muscles around the spinal column.

Quit Smoking – Smoking restricts blood flow to the lower back and promotes the deterioration of your disks.

Always consult your physician. Home remedies are great for the evenings and weekends, but constant pain isn’t something you should ignore.

What’s Next For You?

Hopefully, stretching is part of the solution for the painthat has kept you from enjoying the fullest in life. There are plenty of other stretches that can relieve pain and discomfort, but these stretches are useduniversallyfor many injuries and reasons.

Also: be sure to drink water.

It’s been mentioned a few times already. Taking care of your spine and neck requires lots of hydration to reduce stiffness, as areproper posture to prevent unnecessary stress on the back, and proper sleep. Yes, not enough sleep has been linked to an increase in spinal problems.

Dealing with back and spine pain of any kind is serious and deserves your attention. Stretching and the other remedies listed can improve and diminish these effects.

However, persistent and increasing pain warrants immediate examination of a physician – sometimes more. In the worst cases, surgery is recommended to correct these ailments. No one wants to do it, but it may be the thing that fixes you.

Contact Dr. Spivak if you have considered spinal procedures. We don’t want your condition to get this far, but we want you to know we are here to help.


The Top 5 Questions About Recovery After Minimally Invasive Lumbar Fusion

1. How long will I have to stay in the hospital after minimally invasive lumbar fusion?
It is generally a rule of thumb to say that minimally invasive spine surgery usually will decrease the patient’s hospital stay by half. For a typical endoscopic discectomy and lumbar fusion surgery, the surgeries are performed in the same day, and the patients is usually able to go home in two to three days, compared to a hospital stay of five to seven days with traditional open lumbar surgery.

2. When can I go back to work after minimally invasive lumbar fusion?
This decision varies for each patient, depending on the type of work the individual does. If the patient has a sedentary job, he or she could likely return to part-time work a month or six weeks after lumbar fusion surgery. For more physical occupations, the patient must seek the advice of his or her surgeon on when it would be safe to return to work. Patients generally return to work much more quickly after minimally invasive surgery than after traditional open surgery.

3. What is the recovery time for endoscopic lumbar fusion?
The recovery time for each surgery is different. While some patients are able to return to full activity within only six weeks, others can require more time. Your surgeon will be able to give you a good estimate of what your recovery time will be like based on your individual needs and circumstances. I definitely encourage all of my patients to participate in a physical therapy program so that they can safely begin to return to the normal activities of their lives.

4. How long after minimally invasive lumbar fusion surgery will my pain last?
Pain generally follows that same rule of thumb as hospital stays with endoscopic spinal fusion: the patient usually experiences pain for half the time he or she would with traditional surgery. Patients typically experience the most pain in the first week with a gradual lessening of pain over the next six or so weeks. Each patient recovers differently.

5. Will I need physical therapy after endoscopic spinal fusion surgery?
I highly recommend physical therapy to all of my patients. It is an important part of a quick and easy recovery and return to full function and range of motion. While it varies from patient to patient, most patients who undergo endoscopic lumbar fusion will start physical therapy four to six weeks after the surgery.

Can Pilates Help My Back Pain?

Many patients experience relief from their back pain through physical therapy, but I have had patients ask me if they could substitute Pilates for physical therapy. While I always recommend speaking to your doctor and physical therapist before trying a new exercise routine, Pilates does seem to help many patients strengthen an ailing back and gain flexibility.

What is now known as Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates during World War I. He rigged springs to hospital beds, which allowed bed-bound patients to exercise. This form of rehabilitation has been taken up by many athletes and dancers, and is particularly popular in the dance community.

If you have a back injury or have recently had back surgery, it is important to practice Pilates under the supervision of a qualified instructor, after the activity has been approved by your doctor or surgeon. It is often best for those suffering from chronic back ailments to take a few one-on-one classes with a certified Pilates instructor to better understand the form of the exercises, as well as the patient’s own limitations. After this introductory period, the patient might be able to move on to either online or in-person mat classes. Some exercises may be too challenging or damaging to those with specific back problems, so it is best to learn what movements to avoid before practicing alone or in a large class.

Pilates can be greatly beneficial to those suffering from back pain, as it strengthens the postural muscles and promotes the awareness of neutral spine alignment. It also increases the strength and flexibility of the shoulder and pelvic girdles, improving overall posture. Many Pilates exercises are full body movements which engage both the back and core. Strengthening these muscles can be very helpful to those with chronic back pain, as it can decrease gradual wear and tear by improving posture, as well as by strengthening the crucial supportive muscles of the back. If there is degeneration between vertebrae, strengthening the surrounding muscle can help support the ailing spine.

Back patients should make sure to avoid movements that include either extreme flexion or extension of the spine, as well as side bending with flexion or twisting. Your physician or physical therapist should be able to help you determine which movements should be restricted so that you can enjoy the benefits of Pilates without injury.