Pain and flexibility. In Physical Therapy, they are so closely intertwined, as flexibility is almost always one of the main culprits as to "why" you have pain, and also one of the primary solutions as to how to get rid of your pain. When a back pain patient starts up a course of Physical Therapy in the Jersey City or Elizabeth clinic, we always incorporate an extensive stretching regimen, and there's a very simple reason why:
Stretching Reduces Pain And Prevents Injury
It really doesn't get much simpler than that, does it? Properly stretching one’s low back not only before or after activity but on an everyday basis will significantly decrease both current pain and the potential for injury in the future. Also, stretching the lower back in conjunction with stretching the legs can help to reduce the strain on the lower back and promote better posture.
Many individuals that I treat always seem to push aside stretching for many reasons, with the most prominent reason dealing with a "lack of time". However, contrary to what you might think, properly stretching the lower back region does not require a lot of time. In fact, adequately stretching can take as little as 10-15 minutes. What is important to note is that proper stretching requires good technique rather time. All stretching should be done with proper form so that the stretch can be felt in the proper area, without feeling any pain or stretch in other regions of the body. In addition, each stretch should be held for no less than 30 seconds without “bouncing.” “Bouncing”, for many of us, is holding and releasing the intensity of the stretch for seconds at a time. This does not effectively increase the flexibility of the area involved. By holding and sustaining the intensity for a minimum of 30 seconds, you can ensure that you are increasing the flexibility of the area involved.
But wait, there's one more thing. Another important thing to note is that proper stretching requires a proper warmup, as well.
Why Should I Warm Up?
Stretching should not be done without proper warm up because attempting to stretch muscles and joints that are “cold” can tend to pull on areas that are taut and rigid, thus causing pain or injury, even more so with the spring approaching. In general, most individuals that are not regularly active and so not regularly stretchand joints are in a shortened position. If the muscles in the low back and leg region are shortened and inflexible, it can cause us to damage the structures while doing our normal activities, such as stretching. Warming up the body increases muscle blood flow and increases the temperature within the muscles. Increased heat within the muscles helps to increase the effectiveness of the stretching and decrease the likelihood of injury by stretching a cold body. Effective warmups do not have to involve strenuous activity and complicated movements. Walking in place for 5 minutes while swinging your hands from side to side can suffice as a warm up period.
Dr. James Pumarada is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 18+ years of experience. He is a Sports Therapy Certified therapist, focusing on treating and training runners of all levels, and is a certified Vestibular therapist, specializing in the treatment of all dizziness, vertigo, and imbalance issues.