When it comes to back pain, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that in many cases, regular back pain isn’t severe.
“About 85 to 90 percent of back pain is mild to moderate and doesn’t need to be treated by a doctor,” said Neel Anand, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Director of Spinal Trauma at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “It’s often an inflammatory problem that goes away on its own with an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug.”
The bad news? Even back pain that is not “serious” is quite painful in everyday life.
Plus, Anand said, the wear and tear on your back can begin as early as your 20s and only then continue. Add that to your possibly less than ideal home office setup from last year. Chances are, all that casual email replying is starting to take its toll every day on the couch.
Fortunately, there are a few simple movements that will help you keep your head relaxed for most of the day. Below, experts share six stretches that you must do every morning when dealing with back pain. Combine this with your usual fitness routine and you will notice more mobility and less stiffness within a week or two. (Remember, if you find that after four to six weeks your pain does not subside, gets worse, or is accompanied by leg pain or weakness, tell your doctor right away.)
“This is one of my favorite stretches for spinal mobility, especially during the pandemic as we are all house shackled and probably flexed a lot,” said Christina Rodriguez, Specialist in Orthopedics and Physiotherapist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
To make a kitty, start on your hands and knees. Put your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale as you gently arch your back, lower your stomach to the floor, and look up at the ceiling. (This is the cow pose.) As you exhale, draw your stomach towards your spine and curve your back towards the ceiling. Chin and gaze down on the mat. (This is cat pose.) Repeat 10 times (or as many times as you feel comfortable) to loosen things up and improve your freedom of movement.
Foam roll stretch for the upper back
Rodriguez said that this stretch works best with a foam roller, but a rolled up, thick blanket or yoga pillow will do.
Start on the floor with your knees bent. Place the foam roller under your shoulder blades and clasp your hands behind your head. Use your legs to push you and gently roll the foam roller up and down your upper back. Repeat for 10 reps.
“Another option is to use a chair with a medium-high back,” added Rodriguez. “Bend your back along the back of the chair for 10 seconds to get a similar stretch.”
The cat pose shown above is a great stretch to help improve spine mobility.
Start flat on your stomach with your palms facing down under your shoulders. Keep your legs and hips on the floor as you push yourself up. Hold for three to five seconds and lower your back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.
“This targets your lower back and is also great for people who sit most of the day,” said Rodriguez.
Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and use the chair’s armrests to rotate only your torso to the right. Hold and repeat on the left.
You can also do this movement on the floor for a deeper stretch: start flat on your back and bring your right knee up to your chest. Then bring it to its left side while looking over your right shoulder. Hold it for a few seconds, then on your left side by bringing your left knee to your chest, then to your right and looking over your left shoulder.
“If you don’t stretch often, it can make you feel a little uncomfortable, but you should never get sharp pain while you stretch,” said Rodriguez. “Make sure to listen to your body and if something doesn’t feel right, back off a bit.”
“A tightness in the hamstrings can result in a person having to use their back more when bending forward,” said Susan Fu, Head of Rehabilitation Service Providence Saint John’s Health Center Performance Therapy in Santa Monica. “The hamstring stretch is great because it relieves tension in the back and improves hip mobility in the rear chain.”
Start by stretching your hamstrings: Lie on your back with one leg on the floor. Stand the other person against a wall as straight as possible without overextending the knee. Hold for 10 seconds and switch legs.
Piriformis stretch (pretzel stretch)
Lie flat on a mat or the floor face up and cross your right ankle over your left thigh (your left leg should be bent, your foot should be flat on the floor). Put your hands under your left knee and gently pull them towards your chest. Hold for 10 seconds and switch sides, crossing your left ankle over your right thigh.
“This stretch helps with hip rotation, general mobility, and can reduce tension in the piriformis muscle (located near your buttocks) that can compress on the sciatic nerve and cause back pain,” Fu said.
And if you need a little more help, check out these expert-recognized back pain products:
An adjustable desk chair
Working from home for several years has devastated our bodies. An adjustable, supportive desk chair is according to Rahul Shah. the key, a specialist in orthopedic spine and neck surgery in New Jersey. It will help you maintain correct posture throughout the day, which will take the strain off your back (especially your lower back).
“For someone with back pain, you can sit in a comfortable chair to keep your head comfortably above your pelvis without having to do a lot of extra work on your muscles to align your head above your pelvis,” said he. “So chairs with adjustable back and neck supports would be a good place to start as they help reduce extra muscle work.”
This Gabrylly Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair from Amazon for $ 246 for fits the description of what Shah recommends. It has over 2,000 five-star reviews, with one user saying, “It helped my posture and I no longer wake up with lower back pain in the morning.” The chair comes with an adjustable headrest, armrests and backrest.
Easy Posture lumbar support net
Unless you’re looking to buy a brand new chair, try hacking the one you currently have. Gbolahan Okubadejo, a spine and orthopedic surgeon from the New York City area, recommends a simple back brace.
“This product attaches easily to an office chair, helps maintain proper posture, and provides lower back support,” he said. “It works by giving you a natural ‘S’ curve that is comfortable for the lumbar spine and promotes better posture. This product prevents you from drooping, thereby relieving back pain.”
Get it from Amazon for $ 14.
Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Ergo neck pillow
If you haven’t already, it’s time to upgrade your pillow. This Tempur-Pedic option comes in multiple sizes (including a travel size!) And is recognized by experts for “promoting proper neck and head position while sleeping,” said Okubadejo.
“This will realign your spine, which will relieve back and neck pain,” he continued. “The pillow works by following the natural curve of your body, stretching any tight muscles. Improved posture while sleeping is important because the ligaments and muscles of your back heal while you sleep.”
Get one from Amazon for $ 97.
A standing desk
Sitting is not the new smoking, as some health experts like to claim, but it can put strain on your back if you do it for long periods of time. It can be beneficial to get a desk setup that addresses this issue.
“A sit-stand desk is the best option to compensate for the biomechanical stresses associated with prolonged sitting,” said Chad Henriksen, ergonomics expert and director of WorkSiteRight at Northwestern Health Sciences University. “Increased activity at a low level offers many health benefits compared to a longer, fixed posture. The change between a sitting and a standing position offsets the harmful effects of staying in one position throughout the working day. “
This $ 250 Flexispot Height Adjustable Bar Table from Amazon fits what Henriksen describes. If you don’t want to give up your current workspace, this Flexispot Standing Desk Converter for $ 140 on Amazon can transform your setup into a standing desk. It has more than 5,200 five-star ratings; one user with sciatica problems due to a herniated disc said, “I go through episodes where it bothers me more than usual. During the last one I chose this Flexispot 35″ table top converter. I love it.”
Heat and ice packs
Chirp Wheel + for back pain relief
If you’re curious about what back pain professionals use for problems, you’ve come to the right place with the Chirp Wheel +. The wheel is available in several sizes depending on your needs.
“I highly recommend this product because the Chirp Wheel is designed to fit perfectly between your shoulder blades and target the muscles that move your spine up and down,” said Okubadejo. “When your back is strained by the myriad of activities you do, these muscles block and cause even more pain. The Chirp Wheel massages these muscles, relaxes your back, and relieves any pain.”
One caveat: if your back pain is from trauma to the area, such as B. from an accident, consult a doctor first before using it, said Okubadejo. (Really, you should do that no matter what product you’re using.) His other tip? Use it 5 to 10 minutes a day and “be patient. Your body may take some time to decompress the spine and relax all of those tight muscles.”
Get it from Amazon for $ 55.
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