Tight muscles have long been known to be a contributing factor for the development of lower back pain. In fact, stretching is one of the most successful therapeutic approaches for getting relief. However, stretching can be ineffective if specific guidelines are not addressed. These guidelines are often overlooked, and in doing so, negates the effects that a corrective stretching program can potentially have on the lower back pain sufferer.
Here are some essential guidelines to follow in order to make stretching more effective for the back pain sufferer.
1. Select stretches based on your unique muscle balance profile.
There is a strong correlation between lower back pain and postural imbalance. In the ideal situation, when opposing muscles have balanced tension, stress on the spine is minimized. To alleviate back pain, you must select the stretches for the muscles that have too much tension in them, while avoiding the muscles that are determined to be “weak”, or “inhibited”.
2. Maintain proper postural alignment while stretching.
Proper postural alignment during stretching is important for two main reasons. First, it allows you to achieve the stretch in the right area. Many times back pain sufferers are not able to get into the correct body position for a stretch due to either pain, or improper form. Precision in stretching for lower back pain is key! Second, postural correction does not magically happen by itself. Posture is a habit, one that it unconscious, but through conscious awareness, is changed relatively easily. It must be practiced continually, until good posture becomes unconscious. Practicing optimal posture during stretching is a perfect time to do this!
3. Rotate the time in which the corrective stretches are held.
There is much debate over how long stretches should be held. However, how long the stretch is held is no where near as important as the state of mind you are in when you are doing them, and how quickly you relax into the stretch when it is performed. It is no mystery that the central nervous system controls muscular tension, and stress levels contribute to chronic muscle tension. Therefore, taking a few moments to relax your mind prior to stretching for lower back pain can make a significant difference. Also, remembering to relax and breathe during stretching sends a signal to your central nervous system that the stretch is not a “negative stress”, and it is OK to let go. Often the best way to learn how to do this is to start with longer stretch times, such as 60 seconds, then as you become better at relaxing, decrease the time down as far as 15-20 seconds.
Sam Visnic is a Neuromuscular Therapist, Nutrition Coach, and certified NLP Practitioner who specializes in providing safe and effective corrective exercise solutions for back pain sufferers. Sam is the developer of the “End Your Back Pain Now!” system. For his free special reports, articles, and newsletter, visit http://www.EndMyBackPain.com
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