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December 31, 2020 4 min read

If you’re reading this and is experiencing backache at this moment, reach towards your ankle as far as possible while seated on the floor and your legs out straight, sitting on a chair, or standing with slightly bent knee until you feel a stretch in your low back area… hold for 30 seconds before getting back to your starting position and feel the tension in your back as it fades…

Most, if not all, will most likely experience pain relief with just this simple and safe exercise. How’s this possible? Read on to know why.

Back pain is considered as the most disabling of all chronic pains known and has been the top cause of disability, resulting in the absence from work and for seeking medical treatment. Regardless of the source of back pain, tension can develop in the soft tissue structures that support the spine, especially the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These structures become tight and immobile in the long run which eventually causes back pain.

Back pain that lasts longer than 3 months is considered chronic and often very uncomfortable and debilitating. Chronic back pain persists even after an initial injury or underlying cause of acute low back pain has been treated. People affected by acute back pain may develop chronic back pain with the persistence of symptoms lasting in one year. Persistence of pain, though, doesn’t totally or generally mean a serious underlying condition or one that is simple and can be treated. In some cases, treatment can relieve chronic low back pain, but in other cases, it continues despite treatment.

BACK PAIN AND MUSCLE TENSION

Muscle tension refers to the condition in which muscles remain in a semi-contracted state for an extended period and do not relax. It can be due to overuse or is caused by the physiological effects of stress.

OVERUSE: THE WEAR AND TEAR

Repetitive movements or positions can cause muscle tension, as the muscles experience the “wear-and-tear” from being used over and over again. This does not allow time for the muscles to repair, and can restrict blood flow. Exercise is one cause of muscle tension, as you may work a specific group of muscles in a way that the muscles are repetitively strained. Over time, this will lead to muscle tension, chronic pain, and even injury. Muscle tension due to overuse results in joint restrictions and limitation of motions in the back. Poor posture and sitting down for long periods can also result in muscle tension and back pain.

STRESS: THE FIGHT AND FLIGHT

Many of us experience a great deal of stress in our daily lives. We can’t live a day without feeling stressed at any point in time, from worrying about what to wear going to work to how to deal with a strict boss at the office. We just can’t go over with our lives without it until it builds up, resulting in physical and mental stiffness. When stressed, our muscles tense up in preparation for action-the “fight-and-flight” response. The American Psychological Association (APA) considers muscle tension as the body’s reflex reaction to stress—the body’s way of guarding against any threat to it, such as injury and pain. This tension can continue to build up when we’re experiencing chronic stress, which could lead to discomfort and pain. Mental stress can narrow blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the soft tissues, including muscles, tendons, and nerves. This results in a reduction in oxygen and a buildup of waste products in the muscles, resulting in muscle tension, spasm, and eventually back pain.

WHY STRETCHING WORKS ON BACK PAIN

  • Relaxes muscle tension
  • Increases blood flow

Muscle tension is typically treated using nonsurgical options to relax the muscles including exercise, manual therapy, and heat therapy, as well as vibration therapy. Movement is a critical part of the development of muscle tension. If a muscle is placed in a shortened position for an extended period, such as with prolonged sitting, it becomes incredibly tightened and fatigue, squeezing the blood out. When no movement follows, the tension in the muscle remains because of the reduced blood flow and the muscle can’t relax. Stretching, likewise, can help alleviate back pains. If you’re dealing with back pain, stretching can relax the associated muscle tension by elongating the tight muscles and improving blood flow to the area. By regularly stretching your back, you’ll strengthen your back, lowering your risks for injuries and chronic back pain. Stretching can also be an effective strategy for preventing and alleviating stress.

Benefits of Stretching Include:

  • Reduces tension in the muscles supporting the spine
  • Improves range of motion and overall flexibility
  • Reduces the risk of injuries and disability caused by back pain

Guidelines for Effective Back Stretching:

  • Stretch slowly and never bounce or jerk while stretching.
  • Hold stretches for 15 to 30 seconds to adequately lengthen muscles and improve range of motion.
  • Repeat the stretch between 3 and 5 sets for maximum elongation.
  • Don’t forget to breathe and never hold your breath while stretching.
  • Avoid over-stretching. Never stretch to the point of pain. Stretching should be pain-free.
  • For best results, use a Recovapro massage gun to loosen up the tight muscles so that stretching will be smooth and easy.

 


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