Neck and Back Pain – Stretching Can Help!
Some time ago we posted an article about stretching exercises and how they can help keep you flexible and reduce muscle pain due to over-exercise, stress, or just plain inactivity. That post generated a lot of feedback, so we thought we'd follow up with a little more information. The stretching routines outlined here are designed specifically to target neck pain and back pain. If you put these stretches to work in your regular workout routine, they may go a long way in helping to reduce or even eliminate your muscle pain.
Many Benefits of Stretching
In addition to helping alleviate muscle pain, stretching can be an important part of your overall fitness routine. Stretching improves your range of motion of joints and increases circulation while enhancing flexibility. It can increase body temperature and heart rate, increasing blood flow to muscles, which helps keep muscles supple and improves coordination. Your stretches should be slow and relaxed, without bouncing, and you should stop if you feel any strain or pain.
A Few Example Stretching Exercises
Adding stretching exercises to your routine can help diminish muscle pain in most parts of your body, particularly neck pain and back pain. Try the following stretches to lessen or eliminate your sore muscle pain.
Stretch Out Your Neck Pain
- Corner Stretch – Stand approximately two feet away from and facing a corner, with your feet together. Place each forearm on each wall. Your elbows should be a bit below shoulder height. Lean in as far as you can without paint. You should feel a stretch in your shoulders, neck, and chest. Do this 3 to 5 times a day.
- Levator Scapulae Stretch – The levator scapulae is a muscle that is attached to the shoulder blade and can become tight and painful with too much sitting. First rest your elbow against a door jamb. Then turn your head away from the side that is stretching and bring your chin down. Third, place the fingers of your other hand on top of your head and pull your head forward very slightly, increasing the stretch. Hold this for 30 seconds to one minute.
- Behind-the-back Neck Stretch – This is a standing stretch that can be done anywhere. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, arms by your sides. Reach your hands behind you and hold onto your other wrist. Use the holding hand to pull the other hand away from you slightly. This will stretch your shoulder blades and neck.
- Flexion Stretch – While standing or sitting, carefully bend your head forward while bringing your chin towards your chest until you feel a stretch.
- Lateral Flexion – Bend your neck to one side as if you were aiming to touch your ear to your shoulder. Do this until a stretch is felt then switch sides.
Stretches to Target Back Pain
- Hip Stretch – Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and take your right foot half a step back. Bend your left knee and shift your weight back to your right hip. Keep your right leg straight and bend forward more and reach down your right leg until you feel a stretch.
- Standing Hamstring Stretch – While standing, bend forward towards your waist with your arms hanging down and with your legs straight. Try to touch your toes until you feel a stretch.
- Chair Hamstring Stretch – Sit in a chair and place your legs straight out in front of you on another chair. Reach towards your toes, one leg at at time, until you feel a stretch.
Stretching on a Regular Basis Offers Greatest Benefit
As we've pointed out before, stretching will do you the most good if you make it a part of your routine. You don't have to workout every time you stretch. Stretching can be the goal in itself. If you do a few minutes of stretching every day, particularly on days when you are otherwise inactive, you'll almost certainly suffer fewer aches and pains and should also find that you're sleeping better at night and waking with less stiffness.
RX Fitness Can Help You Get Started
RX Fitness Equipment carries a full array of accessories; mats, resistance bands, medicine balls, jump ropes ... everything you're looking for to make your exercise routine as productive as possible. We also work with hundreds of instructors and personal trainers if you would like a referral. And don't forget to check out Tim's best-selling book, Fitness Equipment – A Shopper's Guide, on Amazon and other online book sellers as well as in our store.
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