Back Stretching Exercises
Note: If you have a back injury or condition or back pain, consult a physiotherapist who can advise you what exercises and how many repetitions of each exercise would be the safest and most beneficial for you.
How Often to do Stretching Exercises
Stretching exercises may be done daily but every second day is usually enough. Specific stretches are often recommended twice daily for those suffering from sciatica or other types of back pain or stiffness. A physician or physical therapist should be consulted if you are experiencing back pain, as the prescribed exercises will vary according to the cause of the pain.
How Long to Hold a Stretch
For stretching exercises, the total time stretching a muscle should generally be about 60 to 90 seconds. Holding a stretch for 30 seconds only requires 2 or 3 repetitions. Holding a stretch for 5 or 10 seconds of course requires more repetitions. The optimal amount of time to hold a stretch to achieve best results is not an exact science - even a single 10-second stretch may have some benefits, although a minimum of thirty seconds in total for stretching each muscle is generally recommended.
Note: You should feel a gentle stretch / tension on the muscles you are stretching. You should NOT feel pain.
Always warm up before stretching exercises. Five minutes of walking, or exercise bike, elliptical trainer, or even marching on the spot is enough. Not warming up before stretching leaves your back susceptible to injuries. Warm muscles are more flexible than cold muscles and are less likely to tear.
*Check with your physician before doing exercises that involve twisting or arching the back if you have a back condition.Keep Breathing. Do not hold your breath!
Lie on back, knees bent, feet flat on floor. Take a deep breath. Exhale as you flatten the small of your back against the floor (or as close as you can get). Do not push feet into floor to assist with the move - use your abs. Hold for a count of five. Slowly relax. Repeat five - fifteen times.
NOTE: Exhale as you pull your back toward the floor: inhale as you relax.
Basic Spinal Twist: lower back and glutes stretching exercise
Lie on back, arms stretched out to the sides.
Bend knees and place feet flat on floor.
Slowly lower knees (keep feet and knees together) to floor to one side as close to the floor as is comfortable.
Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds.
Repeat on opposite side
Basic Spinal Twist - Palms may face up or down
Increase stretch in hip by pushing down on top knee. Increase stretch in chest by increasing angle of outstretched arm.
Seated Spinal Twist (stretches back and glutes)
Sit on Floor, right outstretched in front of you on floor. Bend left knee and place left foot on floor on against the outside of the right knee. Place left hand on floor next to left. Push against left leg with right arm and turn to right side.
Seated Spinal Twist - left side
Seated Spinal Twist right side - back view
Advanced Seated Spinal Twist
Advanced Spinal Twist
If you are not feeling the stretch in the glutes in the exercise shown above (seated spinal twist with one leg straight out on floor), this exercise increases the stretch in the glutes.
back exercises continued...