Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Stretching is an essential part of the day for athletes or anyone who wants to ease their muscles into activity, but if you aren’t careful about how you approach the activity, you could end up doing more harm than good for your spine. But how can you ensure that you are getting the most out of your stretching session and protect your back from harm during the process? We share some tips for safely stretching your spine in today’s blog.
Safe Spine Stretching Tips
You’ll always want to follow any specific medical advice given to you by your treating physician, but for minor aches and issues, or if you’re simply trying to prepare your body for physical activity, odds are the following tips will fall in line with your doctor’s recommendations. Here’s how you can work to safely stretch your spine.
- Take Things Slow – Stretching helps you ease into more strenuous physical activities like running or athletics, but you also want to ease into your stretching routine. Controlled, gentle movements are best as your body adapts to these new movements. Don’t expect to get your stretching done in two minutes. Give yourself 5-15 minutes to really ease your way into your stretching routines.
- Stretch To Tension, Not Pain – A good stretch will take your body to the point of mild tension as your muscles and soft tissues react to the movement, but it should never be painful. If any stretch is painful, back off or shut it down altogether. Stretches may be a bit uncomfortable if done correctly, but they should not be painful.
- Don’t Bounce – Some people will bounce a little when bending forward in order to stretch a little further, but this bouncing or extra reaching motion leads to a repetitive and forceful strain on your spine. Get to a position and hold the stretch, don’t try to bounce or rock forward to push the stretch further. You’re much more likely to hurt your back than to unlock more muscle mobility if you’re bouncing or rocking.
- Be Symmetrical – There are muscles and soft tissues on either side of your spine that you’ll want to focus on during your stretching routine, so always be cognizant to do stretches in multiple directions and in a symmetrical pattern. If you are working on stretching your oblique muscles on one side of your body, do the stretch in the opposite direction to stretch the oblique muscles on your other side as well. Strive to be symmetrical with your stretching patterns throughout your routine.
- Consider Activity Specific Exercises – Finally, it’s also helpful to tailor your stretching routine to the activities to come. You are stretching to prepare for physical activity that is to come, but your stretching routine before a run should look different than the stretching routine you do before moving a bunch of boxes out of a storage container. Think ahead to what types of actions you’ll be performing and which muscle groups will be under the most stress, and be sure to target these areas ahead of time so they are ready for what’s to come.
Remember, take things slow and only push to the point of muscle tension, not pain. If you approach your stretching routine with the right mindset, you’ll be able to prepare your body for what lies ahead and reduce your risk of a back injury. For more tips on how to safely stretch, or to talk to a spine specialist about your back discomfort, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and the team at The Midwest Spine & Brain Institute today at (651) 430-3800.