As our muscles and bones experience more use over time, it’s common to also experience muscle and joint pain. Musculoskeletal pain affects 85% of American adults over the age of 60, and recent research shows that up to 70% of this pain is found in the lower back.
Back pain is a normal part of aging, but this doesn’t mean it’s irreversible or untreatable. From hemp products that promote relief from aches and pains to stretches that loosen muscles and help reduce pain, there are many ways to manage and reduce back pain.
Let’s examine the basics of back pain and six stretches that may relieve back pain.
Lower Back Pain
Back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in the world as it can be severe and cause other problems as well. If you have back pain, you may wonder what’s normal and what isn’t. While a certain level of pain is normal, below are some reasons to see a doctor.
- Back pain continues for longer than a couple of weeks
- If the pain gets worse, even after resting
- Back pain extends into the legs and especially past the knee
- Legs become weak, numb, or have a tingle sensation
- Sudden weight loss
- Back pain causes bladder or bowel problems
- Pain is due to an injury or fall
Causes of Lower Back Pain
There are many factors that may cause lower back pain. If you’ve had an injury or muscle strain, you may experience pain in the lower back until the injury heals. In addition, if you’ve ruptured a disk in your back, your spine no longer has a cushion to protect it from harsh movements and this may be causing your lower back pain.
Another common cause of lower back pain is arthritis. Arthritis is characterized by pain in the joints, tenderness, and inflammation in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most common forms of the condition. Both are similar and are characterized by how they work in the body.
Rheumatoid arthritis is actually a condition in the immune system. It mistakes the joints for foreign bodies and attacks them, causing the joint lining to deteriorate and the bones to rub together uncomfortably. Osteoarthritis is when the tough tissue protecting the end of bones wears down over time, causing the cartilage to deteriorate and the bones to rub together painfully.
6 Stretches to Try
No matter what is causing your back pain or how long you’ve dealt with it, there are easy treatment options available. Let’s explore some of the best stretches to try in order to ease your lower back pain.
1. Knee to Chest Stretch
To perform this stretch, lie with your back flat on a mat or soft surface. Use both hands to pull up one knee so it rests as close to your chest as possible. As you’re doing this, tighten your core muscles and imagine that you’re pressing your spine to the floor.
Hold this stretch for five seconds, and then slowly lower your knee to the floor. Grab the other knee and hold it to your chest for another five seconds. After stretching with both knees individually, you can lift both knees to the chest and stretch both at the same time for extra loosening of the lower back muscles.
Perform the set two to three times twice a day.
2. Lower Back rotational Stretch
This stretch can be done lying with your back on a mat or soft surface as well. Keep your knees bent and place your feet on the floor. Your shoulder should stay flat on the floor throughout the entire stretch.
Next, keeping your knees together, lean them to the right side so they lay on the floor (if you cannot touch the floor, just go as far as is comfortable) and hold for five to ten seconds. Repeat going to the left side and gold again.
You can perform this stretch two to three times twice a day.
3. Bridge Stretch
The bridge stretch is known for its benefits for core and gluteal strength, but did you know it can also loosen up the back muscles and promote support for your lower back? To perform this stretch, lay flat on the floor with your knees bent. Tighten the core and gluteal muscles and lift your hips so they’re flat with your legs.
Hold the position for three deep inhales and exhales, slowly returning to the mat. You can perform five sets of this per day and work up to 30 as you feel comfortable.
4. Cat Stretch
The cat stretch is done from a position with your hands and knees on the floor. With your back straight at first, slowly arch it upwards by imagining a string in the ceiling pulling it up. Hold this for a few seconds, and then slowly arch your back in the opposite direction so your belly is pulled toward the floor.
You can repeat this stretch three to five times, twice each day.
5. Seated Lower Back Rotation Stretch
Grab a stool or armless chair or sit on the edge of your bed or sofa to do the lower back rotation stretch. Cross your left leg on top of your right leg and use your right elbow to press help to twist your upper body to the side. You should feel this stretch in the sides of your back. Hold the stretch for ten seconds, and then repeat with the right leg.
You can repeat this stretch three to five times, twice a day.
6. Lower Back Flexibility Stretch
Lie down on your back and relax your hands on your stomach or chest so your elbows touch the floor. Keep your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Next, tighten your stomach muscles so your belly button is pulled down toward the floor. Hold this stretch for five seconds, slowly relaxing your muscles.
You can repeat this stretch five times, working your way up to 30 slowly.
Other Ways to Soothe Your Lower Back Pain
In addition to incorporating these stretches into your exercise routine, there are other ways to reduce lower back pain and prevent it. Here are some extra tips for soothing back pain:
Engage in Regular Exercise
Exercising regularly is not only essential for maintaining proper health, but it’s a great way to keep your back muscles loose and pain-free as you age. If you’re unsure of how to implement an exercise routine into your life, don’t worry. Explore our resource on the complete guide to a senior workout routine to learn how you can make a workout plan to fit your life.
Exercises that target and strengthen the abdominal muscles are especially effective for soothing lower back pain and promoting relief. This is because the abdominal and core muscles wrap around the back and give it added support and stability.
Maintain Healthy Weight
An increased amount of pressure on the back muscles due to weight gain can lead to lower back pain. If you are overweight, consider implementing an exercise routine into your life and eating a balanced, nutritious diet. This could serve to reduce back pain and promote relief.
Practice Better Posture
Posture is how we hold ourselves, and if we’re holding ourselves up improperly for long periods of time it can cause unnecessary strain on our lower back muscles. Practicing better posture by not slouching and sitting in a supported position can help relieve back pain.
Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects
While this seems like an obvious solution to avoiding back pain, it is not always ideal. If you live alone or work where you must lift heavier objects, try lifting with your legs instead of your back. Keep your back straight and bend your legs only in order to lift objects. If you feel unable to lift something, never hesitate to ask for help.
Use Hemp for Pain Relief
Hemp extract is known for its powerful ability to reduce and soothe aches and pains. As you are implementing these stretches and a healthy lifestyle into your routine, you can also take advantage of the pain-relieving benefits of hemp. Consider using a Hemp Extract Relief Skin Cream for target relief for lower back muscles. A Hemp Roll-On applicator will provide the same benefits with a built-in massaging roller for added relief.
Whether your pain is caused by arthritis, back injury, or sore muscles, if you suffer from lower back pain, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are tools and resources to help soothe pain naturally and loosen the muscles in your back to promote comfort and movement. By incorporating these six stretches into your exercise routine, you can start feeling relief today.
Simply grab a yoga mat or find a soft spot and start stretching.