Stretch and Strengthen for Back Pain Relief

Monday September 16, 2013

Written  By: Mike Harrer, MA, CPT

Many Americans have turned to painkillers and surgery in an attempt to cure back pain, but at what cost? Despite the increase in utilization, overall outcomes have not improved. Additionally, the narcotics are potentially addictive and can cause further problems.

The American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society recommend Tylenol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Opioids should only be recommended for those with severe pain who don’t get relief from over the counter medicines.

From a fitness perspective, our hope is to first treat the pain through stretching and strengthening of the core. Many of us encounter back pain at some point in our lives, whether from sitting at a desk for long hours, or even gardening. Performing core exercises such as a cable rotation or a plank will greatly increase the functional stability of our core which will improve posture and reduce stress on the lower back.

Stretching is an additional tool which can help provide relief over time. As a fitness professionals, we work with numerous clients who have tight hamstrings, glutes, and muscles of the hip which often lead to back pain. A guided stretch plan performed 3-5 days per week can help reduce the problems associated with this lack of mobility. Below are two great stretches that you can perform on your own; additionally, trying a yoga class or attending a stretch clinic are great options.