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Whether you overdid a workout, sat in front of a computer for too long or your physical activity level has decreased, your back can pay the price. Inactivity due to a sore back can cause stiffness, which may actually exacerbate the problem. However, if your back issue is mild, you may benefit from a regular stretching program. Standing back stretches are simple to perform and they can be executed wherever you happen to be -- at work, home or in the gym.
The muscles, tendons and ligaments in the lower back can easily become stiff if you sit for long periods. Performing stretches that specifically target the lower back, such as the side flexion, can help to safely loosen the area and prevent further discomfort. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Allow your arms to hang in a neutral position alongside your torso. Keeping your hips pointing forward, slowly lean to the right. As you bend, slide your right hand down the right side of your body. Bend as far down as you can without experiencing any pain. Slowly return to starting position and repeat on the left side. Stretch each side a total of 10 times.
Right Angle Pose
The right angle pose stretches your upper, middle and lower back all at the same time. Stand approximately 2 feet in front of a sturdy wall. Bend forward at your hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. Extend your arms over your head, at shoulder height, then press your hands into the wall. Adjust your distance to the wall so your body is in a right angle. Keep your feet directly below your hips. Straighten your elbows and knees while keeping the joints soft to avoid locking them out. Push into the wall to deepen the stretch. Hold for 30 to 45 seconds.
Along with stretching your back, standing backbends help to loosen the entire front of your body, including your thighs, hip flexors and abdominals. Stand tall with your feet facing forward and your big toes touching. Pull your stomach in toward your spine and slightly tilt your tailbone down. Press your shoulders away from your ears. Lift your arms over your head toward the ceiling and bring your palms together, or as close together as possible. Lift your chest and chin as you stretch your shoulders back until there is a slight arch in the upper back; your gaze should be up at your hands. Hold for 30 seconds and then release.
The trunk rotation stretch is beneficial for tension in the mid to lower back. Rotate gently and discontinue the stretch if you feel any pain in your back. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Maintain a tall posture and push your shoulder blades down your back. Engage your abdominals to protect your lower back. Turn your torso to the right, leading with your right shoulder; twist as far as you can without experiencing any pain. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then slowly rotate back to the starting position. Repeat on the left side.