So here we are, at the end of lockdown - the promised utopia. With the "new normal" just around the corner, we chatted to Dr. Mike Banna about how we should approach this new world in order to keep ourselves happy and healthy...
Are you struggling from back pain?
We've got five awesome exercises to help loosen tight backs and improve back flexibility, to make sure you can keep checking in at the gym and smash your workouts.
Don't let a tight back and muscular aches impact your sessions; setting aside 5 or 10 minutes after each workout is a great way to implement these back stretches and improve your back mobility in general.
Stretching your back and increasing the flexibility of your posterior chain will improve the elasticity of your muscles, reducing the chance of injury and aches.
The 5 Best Back Stretches You Need To Try:
Scroll down to find out how to do each back mobility exercise
- Downward Dog to Cobra
- Supine Spine Twist
- Jefferson Curl
- Kneeling Thoracic Twists
Common Causes Of Back Pain:
- Poor Seated Posture
- Sitting For Long Periods Of Time
- Tight Hamstrings and/or Glutes
- Insufficient cooldown and mobility exercises
5 Back Stretches To Help Improve Back Flexibility
1. Downward Dog To Cobra Stretch
Taken straight from your Sunday morning yoga session, the Downward Dog into Cobra Stretch is an excellent stretch for the back. Placing the spine - and back - in a controlled level of flexion, which helps to extend and stretch your lower back and hamstrings (tight hamstrings also contribute to back pain).
How to do the Cobra to Downward Dog Stretch:
- Lying flat on a mat, place your hands just in front of your hips
- Straighten your arms, keeping your hips in contact with the ground
- Look up and arch your back
Moving to the Downward Dog:
- Keep your hands in the same position
- Lift your hips off the ground, as high as possible while keeping your legs straight
- Move on to your toes, pushing your palms into the ground
- Move your head in-between your arms, looking back at your feet
2. Supine Spine Twists
Simple but effective. The Supine Spine Twist exercise is a great back stretch, lengthening the back muscles and increasing mobility in the area.
Oh, and this back flexibility exercise feels SO good, you'll love it.
How To Do Supine Spine Twist:
- Lie down on a mat, facing to ceiling
- Place your arms directly to the side to help stabilise your body
- Bring your knees up, creating a right angle with your legs
- Slowly lower both legs to one side, keeping your back flat on the ground and head facing upwards
- Relax the legs to the side, before slowly lifting back to the middle and repeating on the other side
Improve your shoulder mobility with the five best shoulder mobility exercises.
3. Jefferson Curl
Not far off the classic two-legged hamstring stretch, This one adds a little weight to help lengthen and stretch out both your back and hamstrings, two key areas that contribute to lower back pain and discomfort.
If you don't have a kettlebell or dumbbell, you can do the Jefferson Curl backstretch with resistance bands or similarly weighted household items.
Don't forget, start with a lighter weight before progressing on to heavier kit!
How To Do The Jefferson Curl:
- Bend your knees and keep a straight back when picking up your weight
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the weight with both hands
- Relax your arms, and curl your back over as if you were trying to touch your toes
- Keep your legs and arms straight during the entire stretch
- Relax at the bottom of the movement, and exhale, embracing the stretch
- Hold for a few seconds before slowly returning to the top, and repeating
4. Kneeling Thoracic Twists
Thoracic back mobility exercises are great for relieving the mid-back from tightness and aches. The Kneeling Thoracic Twist does just that, improving back mobility and reducing tension in the middle of your back.
The Kneeling Thoracic Twists are also a great back stretch to do at work if you find yourself sat at the desk for long periods.
How To Do Kneeling Thoracic Twists:
- Start by kneeling down on one knee
- Place both palms flat on the ground in line with your front foot
- Rotate your torso, lifting your arm up and over your front leg
- Twist until your shoulder, elbow and hand are inline pointing towards the ceiling.
- Keep your neck and head neutral throughout the movement, following the torso naturally
- Slowly return to the start
Perform this back mobility exercise on both sides.
5. Cat-Cow Pose
Another stretch taken from the classic yoga textbook, and for a good reason. The Cat-Cow Pose helps stimulate and activate the spine and surrounding muscles, stretching the back, neck and shoulders.
Flowing between the two poses helps promote back flexibility, releasing tension in the aforementioned areas. A great back mobility exercises for before and after your training!
How To Do The Cat-Cow Pose:
- Start kneeling down with your knees below your hips, and hands below your shoulders
- Form the 'tabletop' position, with a flat, straight back and neutral neck position
- Lower into the cow pose, exhaling and pushing your stomach down, arching your back while keeping your shoulders and hips in the same position
- Move back through the 'tabletop' position, inhaling and pushing the spine up, arching into the Cat Pose.
- Maintain a steady flow throughout the Cat-Cow pose
Which of these five back flexibility exercises will you be trying first? Let us know in the comments below.
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