Nowadays, many people complain about back pain. Long sitting working hours, sitting in the wrong posture, lack of exercise, etc. are some of the most common reasons behind the back pain. Well, the same can be prevented by increasing the back flexibility.
So, what is back flexibility? Well, the body can bend and stretch at an angle without causing any harm to our ligaments, bones, and joints. An individual with a flexible body has strong joints and bones. Also, the skin of the person with a flexible body remains tight throughout the progressing age. Hence, flexibility helps an individual to age graciously.
Why is Back Flexibility Important?
Our body can take a certain amount of pressure without injuring any of our ligaments or joints. This ability to take pressure is directly related to the flexibility of our bones and joints. Our spinal cord is also known as ‘backbone’. Our back carries a lot of pressure when we sit or lift a weight.
However, lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle results in the back-related issues. But, with simple stretching exercises, we can not only reduce pain but also increase our back’s flexibility. A flexible back increases our ability to take the load without putting too much pressure on our ligaments and joints. Hence, keeping us fit and healthy.
Advantages of Having a Flexible Back
Besides keeping us physically fit, Increased flexibility has lots of benefits.
Sitting in the wrong posture for a prolonged period and muscle imbalances can hamper our body posture over time. Regular exercise, stretching helps in increasing muscle flexibility, which further results in improved posture. Exercise, especially weight training exercises, and stretching exercises, help in strengthening muscles and correcting any imbalances. Hence, improving posture. Also, with increased muscular flexibility, sitting and standing in certain ways become much easier.
Stretching the body before any physical activity has found to be very helpful. It prepares our muscles for the upcoming physical activity. Hence, improving the overall performance. For example, stretching before going for a run or jog increases our muscle’s flexibility and allows more mobility. Hence allow muscles to work more effectively.
Flexibility and muscle strengthening go hand in hand. Strengthening makes muscles strong so that they can easily support us and our body movement. For any muscle to work properly, it should have an ideal muscle length/tension relationship. Any discrepancy and it might result in muscle imbalance.
This would limit the movement at the joint and also limit the extent of muscle recruitment. Flexibility plays a vital role in overcoming this issue. Flexibility helps in improving the muscle length and tension relationship, which further results in enhancing the muscle imbalance and enhancing the strength abilities.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Stiff muscles have a higher risk of injury as compared to the flexible muscle. The same rule applies to tendons and ligaments. Lack of movement or physical activity makes muscles stiff. Tight and stiff muscles have a limited range of motion. If you try to pass this range of movement, it might result in strain, sprain, or even muscle rupture. Flexibility increases the range of movement hence reducing the risk of muscle and joint injury.
Decreases Lower Back pain
One of the most common reasons for lower back pain is tightening and stiffening of the back muscles. Increasing flexibility helps in preventing or reducing the back pain. Flexible pelvic muscles tend to put less strain on the back. In addition to this, flexibility eases the soreness and tension of back muscles, which further helps in reducing back pain.
Exercises to Get a More Flexible Back
One of the best ways to improve body flexibility is by exercise regularly. Exercise might be in the form of yoga, aerobics, or any other kind of stretching exercise. Below we have mention certain exercises that would help you in improving your body flexibility.
You can perform these exercises as per your convenience. Just make sure you do them regularly for around 10-20 minutes/4 times per week. It’s advisable to do some warm-up before starting with these exercises.
#1 Cat and Cow Back Stretches
Bend on your knees and hands. Now, slowly move your back in an alternate round and arch form. In this, all three parts of back i.e., lumbar, thoracic, and cervical, firstly extend and then bend together. Be gentle while doing this exercise.
It’s a kind of back-stretching exercise, so do it slowly. Avoid forcing too much. Once the cycle of alternate round and arch takes around 3-4 seconds. Repeat the exercise 5-6 times.
#2 Lower Back Rotation Stretch
This stretching exercise helps in easing the tension and soreness around the lower back. For this, you need to sit straight on a chair and place your feet flat on the floor. Now, turn your upper body to one side. If you need support, you may use the chair. This would further help you in holding to a deep muscle stretch.
Again, don’t push yourself too much. Rotate your body till you feel comfortable. While performing this exercise, you will feel a stretch from your cervical to thoracic part of the back. Well, you might experience a crack from your back, this is the sound of your joints opening up.
Hold your position for 6 breaths or 20 seconds and then resume your original position and repeat it on the other side. Be slow while returning to your original position.
#3 Squat Stretch
It’s a standing exercise. Stand with your legs apart. The distance between your legs should be more than the distance between your shoulder. Your toes should be pointed outward.
Begin to lower your body, bending on your knees while keeping your buttocks and abs tight. Make sure that your thighs should be parallel to the ground.
Once you attain this position, place your hands on your knees and try to lift your pelvis upwards. Breathe in and try to maintain your posture while putting pressure on your right knee via your right hand. Breathe out and move your right shoulder towards the left knee. Stay in this position and breathe deeply three times.
It might take around 20-30 seconds for each side. Now, stand straight and repeat the exercise on the other side.
#4 Seated forward bend
This is another exercise that helps in increasing back flexibility. Sit on the floor and stretch your legs, keeping them straight. Take a towel/yoga strap and hook it around the lower part of your feet. Breathe in and stretch your arm towards the ceiling.
Breathe out, and start bending slowly and try to bring your stomach to your thighs. Get hold of your towel while keeping your back straight. Breathe in, and while breathing out, try to bring down your upper body more towards your thighs. Try to hold the position. You can start by holding it for just 30 seconds and then keep on increasing the holding time gradually.
While stretching, make sure that you stretch till the time you feel a little pressure or tension on your back. With time, your ability to go down would keep on increasing, so be patient and perform the stretch regularly.
#5 Use an Arched Back Stretcher
To get into this pose, bring your tail bone to the base of the back stretcher and feet under the knees. Recline over the back stretcher and feel your chest and shoulders open up.
You can extend your legs forward. If it gets uncomfortable, go ahead and bend your knees to take the soles of your feet back onto your mat.
Stay here for 10-15 breaths and try to do this once every day or every other day.
Related: How to Use an Arched Back Stretcher
Numerous exercises would help you in increasing your flexibility. However, it might take some time to feel the change. So be patient and exercise regularly. In case you are already facing any kind of back-related issues. It is advisable to start exercise under a professional trainer such as a yoga instructor or certified personal trainer (CPT).