Stretching for Back Pain

As a Dental Hygienist, and really for as long as I can remember, I have suffered from chronic lower back pain. After I began working full time, even after a few short months I wasn’t sure I could continue. That is, until I found my yoga practice.

My body, especially my back, thanks me when I spend time stretching out my muscles and giving myself some TLC. I thought I would share a few of my favourite stretches that make my back sing and keep my body happy.

*Please keep in mind that these are stretches that have helped me personally and may not be tailored for everyone individually. You know your body best – do not stretch to pain and don’t exceed your own limits.

Floor Twist (Relieves back tension)

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  • To begin, lay relaxed, flat on your back, palms facing the sky
  • Bend right knee (foot to left knee)
  • As you exhale, guide your right knee with left hand to fold over your body
  • You can bring your right arm out to a ‘T’ shape, or goal post
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths
  • Repeat on other side

** Remember – keep both shoulders on the ground at all times. Twist should be lower back and down. Feel free to use a prop under your knee if you can’t reach the floor.

Seated Forward Fold (helps to release spine and stretch hammies)

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  • Begin in a seated position with a straight back and legs pointing forward
  • Raise arms overhead and while keeping a straight spine, begin to bend at your hips
  • Remember – try not to round your back!
  • Reach for your toes. If you cannot do so without starting to compress your back, use a prop (e.g.. a strap) to help guide your body forward while maintaining correct posture
  • Hold for 5-10 breaths

Child’s Pose (a calming pose that relieves back & neck tension)

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  • Kneel on floor with big toes touching
  • Begin to fold forward over your knees
  • You can either reach forward with your arms or rest forearms on the floor next to your body
  • This is a calming position. Hold for as long as you’d like

** You may also choose to do a wide legged child’s pose (I prefer to keep my knees together as it rounds my spine more)

Plow Pose (stretches out the back)

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  • Begin by laying flat on your back
  • As you press into your hands, begin to raise your legs to a 90 degree angle
  • Keeping your legs straight and toes pointing down, bring feet over head
  • REMEMBER TO BREATHE
  • Gradually lower toes to your mat
  • You can rest hands on floor or bring to lower back for support

** Remember, if you can’t bring toes to floor, try placing a pillow or block underneath for support

Cat-Cow Pose (stretches out the spine)

  • Begin on all 4s
  • Ensure your back is in a neutral position – head forward and gaze towards the ground
  • As you inhale, lift neck and gaze upward as you arch spine downward
  • Then, as you exhale, arch your spine in upward direction and let head drop between arms. Gaze downward
  • Repeat a few sequences to warm up spine

 

Happy Stretching 🙂