According to research gathered by The Good Body, almost 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lifetimes.
Alarming, isn’t it? However, considering how most Americans live their day-to-day lives, it shouldn’t be all that surprising that such a large majority is currently struggling, or will struggle with, back pain.
As previously explained on Elevate Nutrition, “Back pain can come from great stress to your back caused by taxing labor, but it also can result from sitting still for too long.” Sitting for extended periods of time comes naturally when your profession involves desk work, and longer sedentary hours increase the likelihood of developing musculoskeletal issues. Thus, ergonomic office solutions as seen on Pain Free Working are on the rise, as The Good Body infographic reveals that more than 50% of Americans suffer from desk job-related back pain. While standing desks promote more blood flow to the muscles, the most effective way to lessen the discomfort is by strengthening your back. Simply put, you need to work out.
The more consistent you are with exercising, the less likely you will experience back aches compared to others who are out of shape. In addition to regular exercise, physiotherapist Michelle Kenway recommends a Morning Bed Routine via YouTube to set you up for the rest of the day, although the reality is that even the fittest of athletes may develop pains from working their 9 to 5.
As back fatigue develops, the best thing you can do is take a few minutes for some stretching. Your mind and body will thank you later, as the following stretches offer immediate relief to survive the rest of the day, with possibly enough energy to make it to your evening workout.
Neck & Shoulders
Chin to Chest Stretch – Either standing or sitting upright, inhale deeply, then exhale as you slowly bring your chin to your chest. Take five deep breaths, then inhale to bring your head back up again.
Ear to Shoulder Stretch I – Inhale to raise your shoulders to your ears, then exhale to bring them back and down. Take another inhale, then exhale as you slowly bring your left ear towards your left shoulder. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling to bring your head back to the neutral position. Repeat sequence on the right side.
Ear to Shoulder Stretch II – Sitting upright on a chair, inhale and exhale to roll your shoulders back and down. Tuck your right fingers under your right buttock, inhale, then exhale as you bring your left ear to the left shoulder. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling to bring your head to the center. Tuck your left fingers under the left buttock, then repeat the sequence on your right side.
Stretches for Lower Back Pain Relief
High Knee Stretch – Starting position can be seated or standing, as long as you maintain good, balanced posture. Inhale deeply as you raise your right knee, placing your hands just below the knee to bring it towards your chest. Hold this position for a few deep breaths, exhaling to gently release and return to the neutral position. Repeat on the left side.
Forward Fold – Stand tall with shoulders rolled back and down. Raise your arms above your head as you inhale, then bend forward and let your body fold over your legs as you exhale. It’s important that you only fold until you feel the stretch behind your legs. Try to keep your legs as straight as they can, but don’t force yourself to straighten further if you have tight hamstrings. Take a few breaths, then exhale to return to the standing position.
For more stretches, check out this guide for back pain relief from Spine Health.
Article written by Danielle Welsh
Exclusively for elevatenutrition.com