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Improve Back Pain with Stretches and Physical Therapy

older man stretching and exercising outside

Embrace evidence and ditch the pain medications to regain back functionality.

Back pain is an extremely common problem. The World Health Organization determines back pain to be the number one cause for missed work days worldwide. For anyone who suffers from back pain, you know it can be a lot worse than just a sore, aching back. It can cause muscle spasms, radiate to other areas of your body, and even leave you incapacitated.

Common Causes of Back Pain

Back pain can commonly be traced back to a certain mechanical activity. Something occurred which led to pain or a lack of activity over time created an opportunity for your back to no longer hold up to daily activities. Whether you attempted to move a heavy object, performed a strenuous exercise at the gym, or suffered some type of trauma, whatever occurred can typically be categorized as the following:

  • Sciatica – Sharp lower back pain that radiates down through the glutes and legs due to a compression of the sciatic nerve. Often occurs after a herniated or ruptured disc.
  • Strains — Most lower back pain can be categorized as a strain. A muscle or tendon was overstretched and strained, or a tendon was torn and consequently sprained. Both can occur from lifting or twisting incorrectly, picking up a heavy object, or a reach overextension.
  • Ruptured or herniated discs – trauma often is the cause of a ruptured or strained disc; a sports injury, fall, or car crash for example but can also be caused by a normal movement such as lifting or twisting. The pain starts immediately and may cause numbness or tingling in your legs.
  • Pregnancy – Pregnancy is another common cause of back pain. Muscles and ligaments are stretched as the baby and belly grow, which in turn put excess strain on your back.

How to Relieve Back Pain

The first step to relieving back pain is understanding what is causing it. If you’ve suffered serious trauma, schedule time with your doctor to get a thorough diagnosis. But if you’re suffering from a sprain, strain, or general aches and pains, an appointment with a physical therapist is a great option! With Agile Virtual PT’s telehealth option, you can consult with a physical therapist over a computer or smartphone from the comfort of your home.

In the meantime, proper stretching can provide relief. Stretching loosens tight muscles and helps with spasms. Gradually building out your range of motion with the following stretches can help relieve back pain:

  1. Bridges – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet touching the floor. Raise your hips, keeping your back in a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Hold for six seconds, repeat the stretch 8 – 12 times.
  2. Knee to Chest – Lying on your back, put your feet flat on the floor. Bring your right knee to your chest while keeping your left foot in place. Hold for 15 – 30 seconds before lowering your right knee back down. Repeat with the left leg. Perform two to four repetitions with each leg.
  3. Press-up Back Extensions – Roll over to your stomach and place your elbows right underneath your shoulders and your hands flat on the ground. Push down on your hands and lift your shoulders away from the floor. Hold for 5 – 10 seconds. Repeat 8 – 12 times.
  4. Bird Dogs – With your hands and knees on the floor, both shoulder and hip width apart, keep your back straight and your stomach tight. Lift your right leg, extend it straight behind you, while reaching out with the opposite arm and hold for 5 seconds before lowering both back down. Repeat with the left leg and right arm. Perform 8 -12 reps per leg.

Telehealth for Back Pain

While daily stretching can help relieve lower back pain, not all back pain is the same. Some individuals suffer more chronic pain and will need to seek other solutions. A physical therapist will be able to identify the problem and create a personalized plan that targets your specific areas of pain.

Schedule an appointment today with an Agile Virtual PT PT to get a customized course of care all from the safety and freedom of your own home. You’ll speak with the same physical therapist every call so you can build a relationship with a clinician who will know what you need. Don’t wait! Schedule an appointment today.