Best Stretches in the Morning to Help Prevent and Relieve Back Pain
Stretching your back in the morning can have lasting effects for more than just back pain relief throughout the day!
Stretching as soon as you wake up can have many benefits throughout your day!
We recommend stretching regularly throughout the day, but stretching in the morning is one of the most important times to stretch and one we highly recommend making a top priority of your day. Stretching in the morning over other times has several benefits.
Starting your day with a few simple stretches is a great way to wake up your body and mind after a night of rest.
Stretching in the morning can alleviate muscle soreness, improve postural alignment, help you become more aware of your body, and enhance mental clarity. Learn more about the benefits of morning stretching and get started today!
Stretching can help you increase your flexibility, which in turn may help improve your range of motion, decrease pain, and reduce the risk of injury caused by tight muscles. Morning stretching is a great way to prepare for the upcoming day or any later physical activity. With regular stretching, you’ll see a significant improvement in your overall flexibility.
Stretching can also improve your posture. A lot of our day can be in a forward flexed position…. doing the opposite can help to reverse that. Working on your core muscles and stretches that target the back, chest, and shoulder muscles can help you to maintain correct posture throughout the day. Maintaining good posture can improve circulation and ease any tension that has built up in the muscles of the arms, legs, neck, and shoulders.
Reduced Stress and Muscle Tension throughout the day
Waking up with a stretching routine can reduce stress and tension in your muscles before you start your day. Full-body exercises can help ease any tension, releasing endorphins that will give you more energy and put you in a better frame of mind for the activities that lay ahead. In addition, focusing on positions and movements that lengthen each muscle group allows the release of tightness throughout the body, which could otherwise cause pain later in the day.
Better blood flow and circulation to your muscles, bones, and joints
Stretching in the morning helps to increase blood flow and circulation throughout your body. Full-body stretching can get the blood flowing to your muscles, bones, and joints – giving you more energy and a greater range of motion. In addition, low-intensity stretches have been found to improve circulation without putting a strain on your body while slowly warming up all the muscle groups in preparation for your daily activities.
Improved Breathing Capacity and Oxygen Supply
Stretching helps relax your muscles, making it easier for your lungs and diaphragm to breathe air. Deep stretching can also open up your breathing pathways, allowing you to absorb more oxygen while expelling more carbon dioxide. Doing this will improve your focus, alertness, and clearer thinking throughout the day, which are incredibly important during these uncertain times.
There are several stretches for Back Pain Relief or to Keep Your Back Healthy that we find are particularly helpful.
If you are just beginning a stretching routine or are prone to back pain, we recommend doing some gentle stretching such as the knee to chest, prone press-ups, or cat/camel as long as you don’t currently have an injury like a disc herniation. If you are currently experiencing back pain, consult your chiropractor or other qualified healthcare provider before starting a stretching routine.
Beginner Back Stretches
Knee To Chest
How it Helps: Stretches the lower back muscles and your lumbar spine in addition to your hip and gluteal muscles.
Instructions: Start by laying down on a comfortable yet firm surface. This could be done in bed before you even get up. Pull your left knee towards your left shoulder. Pull your right knee toward your right shoulder. Pull your left knee across your body toward your right shoulder. Pull your right knee across your body toward your left shoulder. Cross one leg onto the other, resting your right ankle on the opposite knee. Pull your left knee back toward your body. You will feel the stretch in your right gluteal. Cross the other leg over your right, resting your ankle on your right knee. Again, pull your right knee back to stretch your left gluteal. Pull both knees back towards your body. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds.
Prone Press Ups
How it Helps: Stretches both your lumbar spine and lower back muscles as well as your internal abdominal muscles.
Instructions: Start laying face down and place your hands under your shoulders and then gently press up until you feel a gentle stretch, your shoulders and upper back may lift off the ground. Hold for 10 seconds.
Cat / Camel aka Cat / Cow
How it Helps: Improves movement or range of motion in your spine stabilizing muscles while also strengthening them. Do not perform this stretch if your are currently experiencing back pain or have an injury.
Instructions: There are two actions in this stretch. Start in a kneeling position. Bring your head up and press your spine downward, slightly arching inward from the flat back position. Next, bring your head back down and round your back upward. Tip: Emphasize raising the area between your shoulder blades.
Intermediate Back Stretches
For Intermediate stretchers or those who are more active, we recommend adding seated figure 4, l/s Rotation, and Brueggars stretches throughout the week as you can tolerate them. If you have difficulty or experience pain with any of these stretches, you must stop and get an evaluation from your chiropractor or other qualified healthcare provider.
Seated Figure 4
How it Helps: Increases hip flexibility and stretches your gluteal muscles.
Instructions: Sit with good posture (back straight towards the edge of your seat and a slight downgrade to your thighs). Cross one leg over the other, resting your ankle on your knee. There are three actions to this stretch:
1) Straight forward
2) Lean to the right
3) Lean to the left.
In each of these positions, you need to bend at the waist (lowering your torso toward your legs). With each direction, you should feel a stretch in the different parts of the gluteal area. Tip: Pull your knee toward you when leaning to the extended knee side to enhance the stretch. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds.
Low Back Rotator Stretch
How it Helps: Stretches your spine stabilizing muscles, improving your range of motion and reducing the risk of sprain / strain injuries.
Instructions: Begin by laying on your back. Gently glide your feet towards you so your knees are bent as is comfortable. Gently tilt your knees towards your left side until you feel a pleasant stretch. Bring them back to center. Then gently tilt your knees towards your right side until you feel a stretch. Then slowly relax to center.
How it Helps: One of the easiest and most convenient stretches to do on our list is the Bruegger with Chin Tuck. It works against the forward flexion of the shoulder muscles by activating the extensor-based muscle groups, thereby temporarily “turning off” the flexion-based muscles (neck, shoulders, chest).
Instructions: Sit straight, looking forward, on the edge of a chair with your legs apart at a 45-degree angle. Roll your shoulders back and twist your arms out, with your palms facing upwards.
Advanced Back Stretches
For advanced stretchers or those who are active, seated flexion, child’s pose, hamstring, and upper back stretches are often overlooked but essential, quick and easy stretches to incorporate into your morning routine as you tolerate them.
How it Helps: By stretching your low back, quadriceps and hips.
Instructions: Begin by kneeling with your knees slightly apart. Slowly fold forward while gliding your folded arms in front of you resting your forehead on your arms and enjoying a gentle stretch. Tip: You can accompany this stretch which is also a yoga pose with some relaxation breathing for even more benefit.
How it Helps: Improves posture and range of motion, both of which help to reduce stress on your lower back which in turn helps lower your risk of low back pain.
Instructions: Depending on your comfort level hamstring stretches can be done laying down or standing up and there are several variations. Since we are doing these in the morning, we’ll start laying down. Gently raise one leg up at a time until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstring.
Upper Back Stretch | Latissimus Dorsi Stretch
How it Helps: In combination with stretching the direct problem areas (shoulders and chest), you must also stretch the entire upper body. The latissimus dorsi-focused stretch is the next in-line stretch, helping alleviate tension level by level down the back.
Instructions: Stand facing a table. Take one big step away, with arms straight above head. Place feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull belly in supine and slowly flex forward until wrists are resting on the table. Shift hips back until they are no longer over heels. Rest into the stretch until the back is parallel to the floor. Shift body weight to each side to allow for a deeper stretch on each side. Hold each stretch for 20 seconds, performing twice a day.
If You Have Back Pain Get it Evaluated to Find a Treatment That Works For You
If you have some particular issues like low back pain and live in the Chicago area, call us for a free consultation before attempting these stretches. The right treatment starts with an accurate diagnosis.
Pain more significant than 4/10 in intensity OR longer than a week is not typical and not good; your back pain should be evaluated – for more information, see our recommendations on Back Pain You Shouldn’t Ignore.
Does Stretching Before Work Prevent Injury?
Stretching is one part of many strategies that work to keep your body healthy and reduce the risk of injury – others like proper ergonomics, posture, strengthening weakened muscles, staying active, getting screened for functional deficits, taking care of minor symptoms before they become more significant problems, and maintaining emotional well-being all contribute to preventing injury.
How long should you stretch to see actual results?
Stretching is an integral part of any fitness routine, and it’s essential to do it correctly if you want the most benefit. But how long should you stretch each day? That depends on several factors, such as the type of stretching, your goals, and the intensity of your workout.
Start with Dynamic Stretching
For a warm-up before your workout, dynamic stretching is best. This stretching helps to loosen up muscles and joints without the risk of overextending them. Try doing dynamic stretches for between 5 and 10 minutes. Keep the movements slow and controlled, focusing on each stretch’s full range of motion. Examples of dynamic stretches include arm circles, leg swings, and torso twists. For more ideas, check out our blog post on dynamic stretches.
Follow Up With Static Stretching
After dynamic stretching and your workout, static stretching is ideal for helping to increase flexibility and reduce the risk of joint and muscle injuries. Spend 10 to 30 seconds on each stretch, repeating each one 2-3 times. When performing static stretches, it’s important not to push too hard, as overstretching can lead to injury. Examples of static stretches include Seated Toe Touch or Standing Quad Stretch.
Consider Incorporating Resistance Band Stretches
Resistance band training is a great way to increase strength while working on flexibility simultaneously. Try incorporating resistance bands into your stretching routine to add more tension and an increased challenge to your target muscles. This can not only help improve the range of motion but will also help focus on critical areas that need improvement. Aim for 30 seconds to 1 minute per exercise and repeat each one 2-3 times. Resistance bands are available for purchase at our front desk. Check out some of our resistance band stretching videos. Schedule a session with our personal trainer if you need help and live in the Chicago area.
Add Other Stretches for Variety
When stretching, it’s important to incorporate a variety of stretching techniques. This will help add some variety and versatility to your daily routine. Adding in other practices like yoga, dynamic stretching, and foam rolling can help you target different muscles and provide an overall fuller range of motion. These activities can add a lot of value and help you improve your mobility in the long run. If you get stuck, talk to our Personal trainer for ideas. or check out our blog on other ways to incorporate stretching into your everyday routine.
Get Help If You Feel Back Pain
As always, stretch to feel a good stretch, not to the point of pain or discomfort. If you feel pain or pain is preventing you from fitness goals such as stretching, call your healthcare provider and discuss this with them. Pain lasting longer than a week is not normal or good and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. If you live in the Chicago area and need to speak to us, we offer free consultations to discuss these problems. Schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractic physicians today to find out how you can get out of pain and get back to what you love.
Dr. DeFabio is a highly regarded chiropractor in Chicago who focuses on helping his patients achieve optimal health and wellness. He takes a holistic approach to care, treating symptoms and addressing underlying issues to promote long-term healing. Dr. DeFabio is passionate about empowering his patients to take control of their health and live their best lives. You can find him surfing, skateboarding, and volunteering at the Lakeview Food Pantry when he’s not in the office.