Functional Stretching for Back Pain
With the warm weather comes a return to activity for many of us. Sports, Spring Cleaning, and work in the yard, are just some of the things we need to prepare our bodies to do after a winter hibernation. Stretching for back pain can help prepare muscles for activity, but there are so many ways to do it, how to decide what to do? Here are some tips to keep your muscles long and lithe:
- Functional Stretching – New research and practice in sports medicine is emphasizing functional stretching.
- How To Do It – Functional stretching for back pain is a fancy name for starting everything slow and building up. Take the motion you are going to ask your body to do and do it slowly at first building up to full speed and range of motion.
- Examples – Also known as “movement prep”, for instance if you are going to run, start by walking, and slowly lengthen your stride, feeling the stretch as you do. Keep increasing for a few minutes until you feel loose and ready to run.
- What not to do – Static stretching (holding a position) and contract relax type stretching have their places- primarily to help change posture or rehabilitate an injury, but not before you exercise.
- Get Your Spine Checked – If you have been pretty sedentary all winter, its not a bad idea to have me check the individual spinal joints to see if an adjustment will help you to be injury free all summer!
Advice from Dr French:
A good exercise to help relieve neck pain is the neck retraction. Don’t do this one in front of other people, since you will look funny doing it. Pull your head straight back, like you are making a double chin, or pulling your chin towards your neck without looking down. Hold it for five seconds or so and do about 10 repetitions. This strengthens the postural muscles of the neck and stretches out the muscles at the base of your skull where some headaches and neck pain come from.
Opiates Often Ineffective for Back Pain
The New York Times reported on a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found that opiates only mildly improved pain, and did not improve disability in low back pain patients. Opiates are medicines related to Morphine, like Vicodin and OxyContin. These drugs have been in the news a lot recently. In fact, the CDC released new prescribing guidelines aimed at reducing their use in long term pain. In addition to their potential for addiction, opiates have a large list of adverse effects, including overdose and death.
I have noticed anecdotally that opiates and other oral medications are often not helpful for back pain. I think that the best home care for spine and muscle pain is ice, applied every hour for 20 minutes.