Back pain is very common, often the result of lifting something heavy, a sudden awkward movement, repetitively bending (like pulling out garden weeds), or just bad posture.

Whatever the cause, the pain should subside in a relatively short period of time. If it doesn’t improve, please see a healthcare professional, whether that’s your GP, physiotherapist, osteopath, or chiropractor.1

It’s tempting to think that complete rest will help improve the situation, so you might be surprised to learn that staying active is actually better than sitting still.

Exercises and stretches that help strengthen back, stomach, and leg muscles can all help.2

Stretches can help reduce the tension in back muscles.3 We’ve probably all experienced a feeling of stiffness or tension when we’ve injured our back, which just seems to make things worse. You’re almost too scared to move. Stretches can help.

Stretches can also help loosen things up and improve your range of motion and mobility.3

Start slowly – if you overdo it, you might make the pain or injury worse.

The following exercises have been extracted from the Mayo Clinic, a global not for profit organisation committed to clinical practice, education, and research. You can view a slide show of the exercises here. If you’re having problems following the written instructions below.

  1. Knee to chest stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Using both hands, pull up one knee and press it to your chest.

Tighten your abdominals and press your spine to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.

Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.

Return to the starting position and then repeat with both legs at the same time

Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.

  1. Lower back rotational stretch

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Keeping your shoulders firmly on the floor, roll your bent knees to one side.

Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.

Return to the starting position.

Repeat on the opposite side.

Repeat each stretch 2 to 3 times — preferably once in the morning and once at night.

  1. Lower back flexibility exercise

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Tighten your abdominal muscles so your stomach pulls away from your waistband.

Hold for five seconds and then relax.

Flatten your back, pulling your bellybutton toward the floor.

Hold for five seconds and then relax.

Repeat.

Start with five repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30

  1. Bridge exercise

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

Keeping your shoulders and head relaxed on the floor, tighten your abdominal and gluteal muscles.

Then raise your hips to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Try to hold the position long enough to complete three deep breaths.

Return to the starting position and repeat.

Start with five repetitions each day and gradually work up to 30.

  1. Cat stretch

Position yourself on your hands and knees.

Slowly arch your back, as if you’re pulling your abdomen up toward the ceiling (like when a cat stretches).

Then slowly let your back and abdomen sag toward the floor.

Return to the starting position.

Repeat 3 to 5 times twice a day.

  1. Seated lower back rotational stretch

Sit on an armless chair or a stool.

Cross your right leg over your left leg.

Bracing your left elbow against the outside of your right knee, twist and stretch to the side Hold for 10 seconds.

Repeat on the opposite side.

Repeat this stretch 3 to 5 times on each side twice a day.

  1. Shoulder blade squeeze

Sit on an armless chair or a stool.

While maintaining good posture, pull your shoulder blades together.

Hold for five seconds and then relax.

Repeat 3 to 5 times twice a day.

 

What else might help?

Heat pads are a very safe and convenient way to apply heat therapy. They slowly heat up and start working in about 10 minutes. They are also thin and discreet, and unlike bulky wheat bags, or hot water bottles, retain their heat for longer.4

Adhesive heat pads such as Hotteeze* are designed to be positioned on the outside of under garments where heat is required. The gentle adhesive will help keep them in position. You can check out the range of pads here.

*Always read & follow the instructions for use & health warnings. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Do not stick directly on skin.

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20369906
  2. https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/ss/slideshow-exercises
  3. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/exercise/stretching-back-pain-relief
  4. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/d01315a1