Almost 80 percent of Americans battle back pain at some point in their lives, and if you spend most of your day sitting, you’re at risk. One thing that can help: stretching. “It lengthens and strengthens muscles, reducing pressure on [spine] disks and joints to ease and prevent pain,” says Kristian Berg, DN, an anatomy expert and author of Prescriptive Stretching. In fact, research has shown that back-pain patients who stretch as part of their treatment fare better than those who rely solely on anti-inflammatory medication. Berg suggests doing these three stretches once a day to prevent or relieve discomfort. Hold each one for 10 seconds, then tense the muscles being stretched for 5 seconds before releasing into another 10-second stretch. (This technique of squeezing the muscles helps give you a deeper stretch.)
Stretches the hip flexor muscles, which run from the lower back to the front of the thigh bone. Sit on the edge of a table, bench or bed. Lie down on your back and grasp your knees; your entire lower back should be in contact with the surface. Grab left knee with both hands and extend right leg so it hangs freely. Hold for 10 seconds, then tense the muscles being stretched. Repeat, then switch legs. Do two sets on each side.
Targets a lower back muscle that runs from the top of your hip bone to the bottom rib. Lie on the floor on your right side, supporting yourself with your forearm. Bend your left leg and move it up toward your stomach as far as you can without moving your bottom leg. Plant your left foot on the floor. Slowly raise your upper body so that your right arm is straight. Stop when you feel a slight stretch in the right side of your waist. Do two sets on each side.
Stretches a muscle under the glutes and hip joint. Stand facing a table or surface that’s about as high as the top of your thighs. Raise your right knee and lift your ankle so the entire outside of your leg is resting on the table. Your leg should form an L shape and be in line with your hip. Arch your lower back and lean your upper body forward. Do two sets with each leg.