Unfortunately, one of the positions we abuse most in these times of restricted mobility is the worst for the back. Yes, of course I mean sitting.
It is undoubtedly the position that causes the most persistent back problems and pain in the long term, and that is why, after months of the pandemic, going out less and less, more and more people are suffering from pressing muscle pain and problems.
Doing nothing will only make the situation worse. That’s why it’s imperative that, if you recognize yourself in these words, you start working today to regain muscle tone and strength in your ligaments. This is the only way to get rid of the pain.
How to do it? Undoubtedly, by walking and moving as much as you can every day. Even if you are confined, you can do exercise routines that will help you at home – and housework is a good way to stay in shape too!
Here is a specific stretch, simple but very effective, that will allow you to release all the tensions you have accumulated and will improve the mobility of your back muscles. But don’t forget what is always said: if you are not used to exercising, start gradually. It is important to activate the muscles little by little in order to avoid injuries.
A liberating stretch
It consists of something as simple as, in a four-legged position, with the knees resting on the ground, rounding and hollowing out the back as much as possible, accompanying it with the breath (always exhaling while changing position).
Now there are other two variants, even simpler -and not less effective- that you can put into practice without the need of leaning on your knees.
The first thing you should do is to sit on a cushion with your legs crossed. Later:
- Put your hands behind you and lean them on the ground behind the trunk, as if they were helping you not to fall, but not pressing your fingers.
- Elbows should be lightly bent and shoulders thrown back, with your head also lightly backward (but not too much tension on your neck).
- With each breath you will take the chest forward, pushing even more the shoulders backward, without stopping to widen.
- In this posture, inhale and exhale up to 10 times.
For the second part of the stretch, from the same position, make the opposite journey, arching your back forward as much as possible, and noticing how your vertebrae move one by one. In this case:
- The knees, still crossed, descend a little.
- You should also place your hands on them, with your fingers turned toward you and keeping your elbows somewhat bent.
- As you exhale, the whole body and arms are raised, while the back is arching even more.
- When inhaling, instead, the back relaxes a little and the arms and shoulders go down.
- Repeat again with 10 breaths.
Ideally, you should do both variations of this stretch once a day. But, if you feel you need it and it benefits you, I encourage you to repeat it as many times as you like.
Of course, you shouldn’t forget other useful techniques such as yoga, tai chi, chikung, rolfing and even the use of a Swiss ball, which can help you release tension, stretch the area better and avoid bad postures.
This aspect is fundamental: more than treating contractures and stiffnesses when they occur, the important thing is to avoid them from the first moment.
That’s why we must not forget a few tips to avoid frequent injuries when sitting longer than normal.
Watch out for bad posture
Of course, the basic guidelines are not to spend too much time sitting without moving (we recommend moving at least 2 minutes every half hour) and to carefully analyze the way you usually sit, to know if it should be corrected.
To sum up, an incorrect posture is that in which the spine is not in a physiological position (that is, straight and stretched), but curves, either forward or backward.
To help you correct it if necessary, it also proposes two simple but effective exercises:
In the first exercise you should lean on any straight support (for example, a door frame or the corner of a piece of furniture) and place your hand slightly below your shoulder. Then, keeping your belly firm and your spine aligned, stretch your arm at 90 degrees. Place the opposite hand on your head and stretch your neck to the opposite side, holding the position for 30 seconds on each side.
This chain stretch will allow you to gradually reduce the tension around the neck, shoulders, chest and neck. In addition, the increased flexibility will reduce the risk of muscle tension.
Secondly, it simply advises squats, which is an excellent position to work on the mobility of the hips and ankles, as well as to relieve low back pain.
Starting from the standing position, you should bend down as much as you can and hold on to a solid support (a table leg, a piece of furniture…) that helps you keep the posture with your arms stretched out. Once squatting, stretch to put your back straight and keep your heels firmly on the floor.
Finally, push your knees outward to encourage the hips to open properly and bring your shoulders back. Stay like this for 30 seconds (you can try to increase the time by 5-10 seconds each day). With practice, you will gain in mobility and be able to stay in this position without support.
You may know more than one person whose back is suffering the wear and tear of months of confinement and limitation. So, if you think these exercises might be helpful to you, forward this article to them.