Written by Joe Martino
In our current age of excessive sitting and sedentary lifestyles, back pain is an incredibly common problem — one that I experience myself quite a bit when I don’t take the necessary steps to keep my body loose.
About 10 years ago I was digging a pond in my backyard. The project involved an incredible about of digging, lifting, and moving of over 1000 lbs of rock, and I managed to push hundreds of pounds of rock at a time in my wheelbarrow, day in and day out, from my front driveway, down the hill, to my backyard.
You can imagine the effect this had on my back.
I ended up in physio for several months trying to repair the damage I had done; between all the excessive lifting and failing to properly rest in between, I had really done a number on my back. The worst part? My back never fully healed, even after all my appointments.
I was left with what appeared to be chronic back pain and it never really went away. My back would feel tired and fragile while I stood, my core was incredibly weak, and it became completely normal to live with that dull ache sitting in my lower back at all times.
Finally, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I knew my body best and wanted to see what would happen if I tried really listening to what it was telling me. So I started stretching and strengthening my back every day using a series of exercises that I thought would work to solve my specific issue.
Sure enough, after just 3 weeks, my back was stronger and looser, and the pain was gone.
I did simple things, like multiple sets of body weight squats, and created a morning stretch routine that kept my entire body loose. These included did many of the stretches you see below. Throw in a foam roller to the daily routine and things can turn themselves around very quickly.
For some it may take more than this, perhaps even emotional work, but it can never hurt to add movement and stretching to your daily routine.
Lie on your back. Bend your right leg at the knee. Stretch out your left leg above your head. Grasp it with both hands under the knee, and pull it towards your torso. Hold this pulling motion for 30 seconds. Repeat this exercise twice for both legs.
Lie on your back and bend both legs at the knee. Grasp your left leg with both hands at the knee and pull it towards your torso. Hold the position for 20 seconds. Repeat the exercise twice for both legs.
Lie on your back. Stretch your right arm out to the side, at a right angle to your body. Stretch your left leg out so that it is straight. Try to stretch your right knee towards your left side, so that it almost touches your left hand. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Repeat the exercise twice for both knees.
Lie on your back and bend your left leg at the knee. Place the lower half of your right leg crosswise over your left thigh, with your knee pointing out sideways at a right angle. Carefully pull your left leg towards your head. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Switch the position of your legs and repeat.
Lean on the floor on your using your right knee and stretch out your leg behind you. Your left leg should be bent at the knee. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise with the position of your legs changed.
Lie on your right side. Bend your left leg at the knee, grasping your ankle with your left hand. Carefully pully on your ankle with your hand, thereby tensing the muscles in your left thigh. Your spine should not be bent to any great extent. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Then lie on your left side and repeat the exercise.
Stand arms’ length from a table. Bend your upper body forward, slightly bending your legs at the knees, to the point where you can touch the edge of the table with both hands. Your arms should be stretched out and your head at the level of your shoulders. Hold this position for ten seconds. Then stand up straight and bend your body to each side, one after the other.