7 Effective Stretches to Relieve Tight Hamstrings and Prevent Running Injuries
Imagine several years ago you were involved in a serious car accident, during which time your back was injured, resulting in the need for some medical intervention. Recently, and due to the lingering effects of the wreck, your family doctor suggested that you may have some osteoarthritis in your spine. To top it all off, your office job requires a lot of sitting during the day, which frequently leads to episodes of lower back pain flare-ups. Those onsets usually present with soreness, tightness, and occasionally down right sharp pains targeting your susceptible lower back muscles.
And, like most adults in today’s world, you’ve got a very busy outside of work calendar too, filled with your kids’ activities, volunteer work, and managing a home. You’d like to do more for your lower back pain, but simply don’t have the extra time available right now for chiropractic visits, health club classes or costly physical therapy appointments. Something has to give and your lower back pain episodes seem to be getting more frequent, and the discomfort progressively worse, as the days go by.
Keep your chin up, because hope is on the way. In fact, there are a number of lower back pain-reducing methods that can be done conveniently within the confines of your own home. In addition, most are inexpensive, simple to do, and won’t take up much of your precious time. Now let’s take a peek at 10 of those lower back pain “home remedies” now.
1.) Fill Your Fridge with “Back Healthy” Foods
Most all of us don’t eat the way that we should, while our bodies were designed to function better when fed more nutritious and vitamin-rich foods. And, your back’s tissues are certainly no exception. Studies have found that there is a direct correlation between the intake of essential vitamins and a healthy, happier lower back. Having said that, here are some of the most important vitamins for your back according to pain focused nutritionists:
- Vitamin C: Our bodies use Vitamin C to help cells form into collagen, and then the latter is used to create new tissues, including in our lower back. In other words, Vitamin C promotes healing for damaged tissues by stimulating tissue regeneration. Vitamin C is found in high amounts within foods such as oranges, apples and pineapples; along with veggies like peppers and sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin K: This vitamin promotes our bones to absorb calcium and thereby get stronger. And, for someone diagnosed with osteoarthritis, for example, that’s a good thing. In fact, Vitamin K and calcium serve as a “dynamic duo” when it comes to good overall bone health. Green leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach and broccoli, are prime sources of this vitamin.
- Vitamin B12: Healthier nerves and more vigorous blood cells are the result of adequate levels of Vitamin B12 in our systems. Red blood cells, of course, transport oxygen to injured bodily tissues, and that subsequently promotes faster tissue repair rates. Vitamin B12 is most commonly found in beef, seafood, and dairy products like milk, eggs and cheese.
Overall, keep your dinner plate filled with the foods mentioned above, and your lower back pain will wish it was on a vitamin-free diet!
2.) Sleep Better While Enjoying a Better Back
As human beings, we require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to recharge our bodies and minds. Oftentimes, the nagging discomfort of lower back pain works as a sleep deterrent, as we can’t get comfortable on our beds. The Mayo Clinic online has some sleeping tips for those who suffer from low back pain, especially when there exist underlying factors causing a chronic condition, say from a past traumatic event like a car accident. Those include:
- Find a good mattress: If your current mattress is over 10 years old, and it noticeably sags in the middle, toss it out and get a fresh one. There are a number of firmness levels nowadays for mattresses, and materials available too. For most lower back pain patients, experts recommend a medium firmness mattress product.
- Strengthen your body’s core muscles: Your core muscle groups can be found within your trunk and abdomen, and they serve to support your spine in its natural position. When they are weak, your spine gets out of alignment, which can even occur while lying down on a bed. Investigate exercises and stretches that build core muscle strength.
- Position yourself properly: How your body is postured on top of the mattress means a lot when you have lower back pain. Experts suggest never to sleep on your stomach, as that puts added stress on already sensitive low back tissues. Instead, lay on your back or side, and use a pillow in between your knees to relieve pressure.
When all is said and done, getting a full night’s rest at home hinges on creating a comfortable sleeping “arrangement” for your back. Do this, and your back will sleep better too!
3.) Stretching isn’t Just for Your Household’s Budget
Stretching, in general, is always good for our bodies, as it loosens tight muscles, encourages blood and oxygen flow to tissues, and increases our flexibility. While you are at home, there are a myriad of stretching exercises that can easily be done, ones that are simple and that will fit into any person’s busy schedule. Especially after participating in household chores, like cleaning or gardening, take a few minutes afterward to loosen up your arms, legs, back, and neck.
Yoga and pilates are a couple of more focused methods of stretching out your body’s tired and sore lower back muscles, and there a number of DVD formatted learning programs available that will guide you through their techniques while stretching out your body. Those two healthy and low-impact exercise approaches not only stretch out your muscles effectively but also strengthen your core in the process, while relieving stress. In the end, your household budget isn’t the only thing that needs to be stretched!
4.) Ease Back Pain Out the Door by Strengthening Your Core
It was mentioned above about the importance of building up the strength in your body’s “core” muscles, those surrounding and supporting our spines, and how it pertains to reducing lower back pain issues. There exist several ways to exercise and strengthen core muscles at home, such as the aforementioned yoga and pilates, along with light free weight training and other workout modalities.
Enhanced muscle fitness workouts stimulate the release of natural painkillers like serotonin and endorphins, encourage deeper breathing which ultimately gets more oxygen and blood flow to damaged tissues, and the exercising helps you relieve stress. All of those positives lead to a healthier back, one not as likely to manifest with low back pain in the future. A stronger core will help support your spine all day long and not just when you are at home, including at your desk job. Allow core conditioning to come into your house as you slowly ease lower back pain out the back door.
5.) Be Careful Who (or What) You Welcome into Your Home
Probably the easiest variables we can adjust at home with respect to lower back pain are some of the lifestyle choices that we make. And, getting into better habits, while tossing some of the older, harmful ones out with your garbage, is something else we can do while at home. WebMD has identified a few key lifestyle decisions that may exacerbate lower back pain symptoms and onsets. In the end, it’s up to you whether or not these are important. WebMD’s researchers identified these factors as ones that may worsen lower back pain onsets and symptomatic intensity, especially when an underlying back condition exists:
- Smoking tobacco products
- Not getting enough sleep
- Having a poor diet
- Being overweight
- Not exercising regularly
- Using bad posture, even while sleeping
In summary, implementing positive changes involving one or more of these lifestyle choices will precipitate a healthier back, and one that will be more resistant to lower back pain onsets and its accompanying severity. Overall, when these lifestyle factors knock on your home’s door, don’t let them in!
6.) Back Away from Tasks at Home that Harm Your Back
There are always chores to do around our homes, or at least it seems that way. Many of them, however, may be detrimental to chronic lower back pain, and ones to avoid altogether or only perform in moderation. For example, avoid lifting heavy objects, repetitive twisting motions, or bending at the waist for long periods of time if you are prone to lower back pain issues. This might mean less yard work or gardening on a summer’s day, or getting the kids to be more responsible in putting away their toys so that you don’t have to.
Sitting or standing for several hours while at home can also worsen lower back pain issues. Don’t sit all scrunched up in front of your laptop or PC for prolonged periods of time tasking away, or hunched over playing on one of your Smart devices. Even while watching TV, be cognizant of bad posture, which encompasses slouching over, with your chin down and shoulders rounded. Bottom line: Avoid household chores or other activities that may lead to tight or stressed back muscles, and your home life will improve along with your back!
7.) Find a Massage Therapist that Makes House Calls
Back manipulations by a trained professional are one of the most relaxing and back healing things that you can do when low back pain strikes. There are quite a few talented massage therapists around that will actually come to your house to work their magic. A good massage works wonders for your entire body, but especially for tight, sore and stressed back muscle tissues. Massages also stretch out muscle fibers, promote oxygen and blood flow, lower stress and help with your flexibility.
Prior to, as well as during, the enjoyment of experiencing a professional massage, there are a few recommendations that will make it a more back-benefitting process. Those are:
- Condition yourself to relax mentally and physically, while taking deep, cleansing breaths before, during and after the massage itself.
- Wear baggy, loose-fitting clothing to create a feeling of being more free and relaxed.
- Stretch out your arms, legs, neck and back before and after the massage experience.
Using these professional therapist-endorsed tactics will lead to a more effective massage outcome, one that will assuredly also make your back muscles feel refreshed too. At the end of the day, locating and utilizing a massage therapist that makes house calls will be the right call!
8.) Practice Meditation While the Kids are at Practice
Okay, the kids are gone at one of their many school-related practices, and the house is empty and quiet. Now it’s time to take advantage of the moment, and indulge your body in some meditation. When done properly, meditative techniques quiet your mind and ease tight muscles using repetitive deep breathing exercises. This ultimately reduces stress from your muscles to your mind, all of which translate to your back in an effort to alleviate lower back pain.
In the world of meditative practices, there are two main types. The first is classified as “mindfulness” meditation and is the most common. Mindfulness techniques involve controlled and relaxed breathing while focusing on the sounds and sensations around you. Conversely, the second and less common method of meditation is referred to as Transcendental. In that form of meditation, the user audibly chants a word or phrase over and over again. This “mantra” becomes the center of the practitioner’s concentration while channeling away stress and worry.
By lowering your stress levels using meditation, your back muscles will feel less stressed too!
This next method will only be a doable one if you have a pool at your house, and we’re not talking about the kiddie variety. So, if your home happens to feature an adult-sized swimming pool, Aqua Therapy is a great way to safely exercise your body in the privacy of your own yard and in a way that is conducive to lower back pain relief. There are so many benefits to using water as an exercise medium to address low back pain issues, and those are:
- Supports your weight which reduces stress upon your injured back tissues
- Water naturally relaxes a person mentally and physically and therefore reduces stress
- The increased resistance that water affords helps you build up your muscles gently, and specifically core muscles
As you can see, water is a great way to exercise while protecting damaged lower back tissues and strengthening core muscle groups, a process that ultimately gives added support to our spines. When push comes to shove, using water as a weapon against lower back pain is an effective means to wash your troubles away.
9.) Invite Good Posture into Your Home
The final guest to this house party list of lower back pain reducing resources is using proper posture at any and all times you’re home. So, whether you are cleaning house, seated for dinner, watching television, checking out your latest Facebook updates, or just chilling on the couch reading a book, use good posture! Poor posture works in a negative fashion, and induces the polar opposite effects of the back health improving home remedies that have thus far been addressed in this article. And, we don’t want that to happen, right?
Good posture looks like this: Your head should be upright with your chin out, shoulders back and chest out, with your spine aligned in its natural upright position. When you do this, stress is reduced to your back and neck muscles, greater amounts of oxygen reach your tissues and encourage healing and cellular repair, and natural painkillers are dumped into your body’s circulation. As a result, you will feel better, look heathier, sleep soundly and have more self-confidence. Your family will notice the change, and so will you when you look in the bathroom mirror. Invite good posture into your home, and you will most definitely want it to stay!
10.) The Lumo Lift Posture Coach Makes a Great House Guest
In an effort to make your home life a more enjoyable one, the team of posture experts at Lumo Bodytech have come up with an amazing technological device called the Lumo Lift Posture Coach. It uses a simple and discrete, lapel pin sized sensor to pick up your body’s postural data, and then transmit the information conveniently to a downloadable app for any iOS or Android Smart device, including your phone.
When you have a few minutes each day, you can review the data to see what you are doing right, or what improvements are necessary, with respect to your household posture. Oh, and while you are busy with your various home-based activities, if your posture is not good the Posture Coach will remind you with a gentle vibration! The Lumo Lift Posture Coach can be worn not only at home while you are awake or away from your house at work or anywhere else. It’s just another way that the folks at Lumo Bodytech are trying to make the world a more back pain free one, a single household at a time!