If you’re experiencing back pain there’s a good chance that’s all you’re able to think about right now. It can be frustrating and debilitating, impacting just about every major move you make. The stabbing and shooting pain not only gets in the way of your fitness routine but can also make everyday activities uncomfortable, from sitting at a desk to going for a walk or playing with your kids.
Backaches may even make you want to head straight for your couch or bed and stay there all day, but before you get horizontal, know this: Research shows that regular movement is important for recovery. Not only does light aerobic activity (think walking, swimming, riding a stationary bike, or following the P.volve Method) improve blood flow in the back to help the healing process, but it also strengthens your core muscles to help ward off future back problems.
Better yet, some P.volve workouts—such as routines that feature lower back stretches and flexibility stretches—are great for preventing back pain to begin with. Read on to learn more about back pain and the benefits of flexibility and discover three of the best back stretches for flexibility.
WHAT CAUSES BACK PAIN?
Back pain can be brought on by doing too much (lifting a heavy box incorrectly or straining a muscle or ligament by moving in an awkward way) or too little (planting yourself in front of your laptop for hours, say). “People often sit in a way that compromises their neutral spinal alignment, and prolonged sitting can create stiffness in the low back because compression forces are increased,” says Celestine Atalie, a P.volve trainer. Conditions like a ruptured disk, arthritis, and osteoporosis can also lead to back pain, and while you can experience back pain at any age, it’s more common after age 30 or 40.
You can also blame a burning ache in the back on poor posture, says Atalie. “When a person slouches, the lower back (which naturally has a slight concave curve) tends to straighten or may even move into a convex position, which can place more pressure on the front part of the spinal disc.” The same holds true if a person overarches their back, except the pressure will be on the back side of the discs. “This can increase low back discomfort, and prolonged periods of time in compromised spinal alignment could cause injury down the road,” says Atalie.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN BACK PAIN AND MOBILITY AND FLEXIBILITY
Depending on the cause, back pain can either limit range of motion or prevent movement entirely. “Someone will know they have limited mobility when they don’t have full range of motion at their joints, leaving them feeling restricted or stiff,” explains Atalie. “They may also have poor posture or not movely as fluidly during their day-to-day activities.”
On the flip side, a lack of mobility can actually trigger back pain if the lower back has to compensate for the decreased flexibility. For example, if you have tight quadriceps or hip flexors, you may not be able to lift your leg as high during a leg extension. If you make up for that lack of flexibility by arching your low back or hiking your hips, you may develop lower back pain.
“The back and abdominal muscles help support the spine, and you can think of the core as a canister that drives the entire body,” says Atalie. “If the canister is deformed or dented in one spot, then the other parts that support it have to work harder to hold its upright shape. So if the abs are turned off, then the back muscles must work harder to support the spine, leading to back discomfort.”
To the rescue: P.volve. Our Method provides dynamic stretches at the beginning of each workout and focuses on core-strengthening moves like planks, rotations, and other exercises that build stronger abdominals to help reduce strain on the back muscles. P.volve also offers recovery equipment such as the Precision Foam Roller. And if you want truly targeted relief, P.volve’s Back Strengthening Series is clinically proven to help people reduce back pain, according to preliminary results of a University of Minnesota study. Start the six-part series today!
What Stretches To Do for Back Flexibility
These three moves improve mobility to help stave off back pain. Atalie recommends doing them three to five times per week. For more mobility training, check out these additional five moves that help lower back pain.
CHEST AND UPPER BACK OPENER
Lie down on your back and place a p.ball underneath your shoulder blades, making sure you can comfortably relax with your head and pelvis grounded (you may need to deflate the ball a bit or you can roll a towel into a ball). Extend your arms wide to each side and breath into the front and back sides of your upper back.
Hold this stretch for 60 seconds, then roll gently to one side to move the ball after the stretch.
HIP FLEXOR STRETCH
Start in a kneeling position and step your right foot forward. Squeeze left glute, focusing on elongating the front of the hip (you may need to shift your pelvis forward a few inches to increase that stretch). Then reach your arms overhead, bringing eyes toward the ceiling.
Hold stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
FIGURE 4 STRETCH
Lie on your back, left leg bent with foot flat on the ground and right ankle crossed over your left thigh with right foot flexed. Gently press your right thigh forward with your right hand to stretch the glutes.
Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
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