Back pain affects nearly 64% of all adults in America. If you are one of the 65 million people that experience regular bouts of pain, you are likely searching for solutions.
While surgery and other invasive means are one option, there are less drastic options that can often provide long-term relief from pain and discomfort. Did you know that chronically tight muscles and ligaments can cause long-term chronic back, neck and shoulder pain? Inflexible joints and ligaments put added strain on muscles and joint movement, increasing the chance of injury and pain. Increasing flexibility through exercise and stretching is an important component of the overall treatment plan for our back pain patients.
Increase flexibility, reduce back pain
Flexibility means moving a joint through its full range of motion. Ensuring your joints are flexible can help to reduce the risk of injuries. A flexible joint will also help to improve your muscle balance, function, improve your posture and play a role in reducing the incidents of back pain. Unfortunately, flexibility deteriorates with age so you need to make a priority to continuously work on your flexibility as you age.
Best way to increase flexibility? Stretch
As you age, your body naturally begins to lose elasticity and flexibility. With shorter, tighter muscles, any stretching or extra movement will alert the muscle’s sensors that the system is not working correctly. The body responds with pain messages, which will repeat until the system is ‘rebooted’ through pain relief methods.
Stretching allows your muscles to improve their range of motion while reducing the tension on the muscles in the lower back. It provides you with improved mobility and greatly reduces the risk of additional injury as a result of a fall or accident.
How to stretch to increase flexibility
The specific exercise that you perform is not as important as the duration and frequency of the exercise. Your muscles need the activity that comes with regular exercise and stretching. By establishing a pattern of activity, your body becomes accustomed to moving and stretching and doesn’t need to send a signal alarm at any new motion that may occur.
Regular stretching exercises can help improve your mobility. The biggest factor is consistency. By participating in a regular exercise program, you are helping your muscles operate effectively.
Make sure you are using the right type of stretching for your activity and warm up before you participate in any exercise. This helps to prepare your muscles for use. Your joints will benefit from the stretching exercises, improving your range of motion, helping them perform better, decreasing the risk of injury and accelerate your performance. With increased blood flow, your muscles will have the necessary nutrients to work at peak performance.
If you are experiencing pain during exercise, consult with your doctor to help develop a plan of appropriate activity and ensure that your body is able to handle the exertion.
After injury – improve your flexibility
If you’re returning to an exercise routine after an injury, you may be tempted to jump in where you left off once you feel “over” the injury. Slow down, we’d say. Exercise should be helpful, not painful. Introduce new activities gradually and allow your body time to work back up to the level it was at before the injury. Jumping back in where you stopped may cause additional injury and pain and have you out recovering for longer!
Strong back muscles are essential for proper back function. When the muscles in your lower back are tight or weak, this can cause pain. Muscles that are well-stretched have less likelihood of being injured, unlike the muscles that restrict activity.
Stretching isn’t a cure-all for pain relief or injury prevention. However, it can be an effective means of improving flexibility.
Do you need help developing a plan for regaining flexibility? Contact our office today for an appointment.