The Three Worst Stretches for Back Pain

This may shock you but these 3 stretches that you are doing for your back pain are doing more harm than good. Yes, even if a clinician gave them to you.  They may feel good at the time when you do them, but over the long run are they are damaging the discs in your lower spine.

  1. Pulling your knees to your chest. This is the worst of the worst. This stretch may feel good for 15-20 minutes by activating the stretch reflex in the lower back muscles, but pain can return often worse afterward due to the forceful flexion in the lower discs of the spine.
  2. Bending down to touch the toes with a rounded spine to “stretch the hamstrings”. Inevitably, this movement places major compression to the lower spine that will cause damage over time.
  3. Dropping your knees to either side and twisting the joints of the lower back. This position keeps discs and joints in the lower back sensitive and will prevent the lower back from fully healing.

 Avoiding these stretches is not simply my opinion, but research findings from the foremost authority in spine biomechanics Dr. Stuart McGill at the University of Waterloo.

 Dr. McGill admits that there is not a one size fits all approach to alleviating all back pain, but he contends that by following these 7 steps you can resolve 80% of lower back problems:

 Eliminate the cause of the pain and find pain free postures (lying, sitting, standing).

  1. Develop posture and movement patterns that enable you to function pain-free.
  2. Essential exercises for everyone to stabilize the torso, core, and spine (bird dog, curl up, side plank).
  3. Develop a walking plan.
  4. Mobilize the hips.
  5. Build your fitness plan around functional movement (push, pull, carry, etc.).
  6. Make healthy spine choices when engaging in any activity.

I am in agreement with all these 7 steps. However, I would add an 8th that would be to find a movement expert such as a corrective chiropractor to coach you through these 7 steps and help eliminate any major joint fixations with gentle chiropractic care. I contend that by adding the right type of chiropractic exam, a better plan can be formulated and even better results can be achieved.

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