Back pain is incredibly common. According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, 16% of Australians complained of back problems in the year 2017-18; some four million people. Causes of back pain are numerous: lifting something the wrong way, whiplash, or simply bad posture.
While it may be true that some of the best ways to get rid of a troublesome back include visiting a chiropractor or a physiotherapist, there are in fact some moves you can carry out in the comfort of your own home to help cure painful symptoms or prevent yourself from experiencing any discomfort altogether.
Not all the moves work solely your back muscles, but, even as this writer can attest, your legs play just as important role. If they can’t support the workload your back carries out on a daily basis, you’re going to run into problems.
Enter: Dean Jamieson, owner of Lean Performance Gym in Taren Point, Sydney, who we recently interviewed to find out his best three stretches to keep back pain at bay.
The World’s Greatest Stretch
Dean’s number one move is the world’s greatest stretch, because it hits virtually every part of your body, and it’s surprisingly simple.
For this move, start in a push-up position, bring one foot up towards your shoulder, and then drop your arm (the same side as the foot you’ve moved up) onto your elbow and hold for around 10 seconds. Part two of the stretch is to then extend that same arm up above you while twisting your body and then swing it back around and under your body, before swinging back up again. Complete for 10 reps.
But you’re not done yet. Part three of the move. Push your bum up so both legs are as straight as they can be, but resting on the toes of your back foot, and the heel of your front foot. Hold the position for around 10 seconds before stepping up and out. You’ve then got to carry out the same movements on the other side of your body.
Overall, all three parts of the stretch work your T-spine, shoulders, groin, hamstrings, and calves.
The second stretch Dean recommends is called the deep squat and is pretty self-explanatory. With your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down as far as you can go, keeping your chest out and your back straight. To help with balance, keep your arms held inside your legs. Hold this position for 30 – 40 seconds.
Finally, rounding out Dean’s top three stretches is the couch stretch, which may make you think you need to be a contortionist, but is actually rather simple in practice. You can carry out this move against a wall, or using a bench if you perform it at the gym, or, as the name suggests, with your couch at home. Start by bending one leg as much as possible, so that your lower leg is hugging your upper thigh. Once you’re in a comfortable position, bring your body up, with an ideal position being as straight as possible – make sure not to overextend your back.
The close your knee gets to the wall – or underneath the bench – the better, but if you struggle, work on getting your upper body form correct instead. The move targets your glute muscles big time, along with your quads. Hold the position for 30 – 40 seconds before swapping to the other side.
Complete three sets of these stretches to not only minimise your chances of getting a bad back but to open up your joints, allowing you to move more freely.
A back-pain-free future awaits.