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Strained back muscles are a result of over-stretched or torn muscles. Often, people also confuse ligament strains, which are caused by over-stretched or torn ligaments, as strained back muscles. Both back muscles and ligaments, however, can be stretched the same way. Effective back stretches can alleviate the discomfort and increase your flexibility, which can in turn help prevent future strains.
Back Flexion Stretch
The back flexion stretch, or lying lower back stretch, focuses on the erector spinae, which runs along the length of your back. Lie on your back on a mat or floor. Raise your legs and bring both your knees to your chest. Put your hands on the backs of your thighs, close to your knees. Using your hands, pull your hands towards your chest. Simultaneously flex your neck, reaching your head towards your knees until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
The knee-to-chest stretch targets the muscles in your lower back and is easier than the back flexion stretch. Lie on your back on a mat or the floor. Bend both your legs and make sure your heels are on the floor. Raise one of your legs up and bring it towards your chest. Place both your hands behind your thigh, close to your knee. Using your hands, gently pull your knee towards your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Your hips and glute muscles help support your lower back. When these muscles are tight, they can force your back muscles to over-work and become strained. The standing hip stretch can help alleviate lower back pain, increase hip flexibility and prevent future back strains. Stand with your feet shoulder-width distance apart. Keeping your knees straight, bend forward at your waist and try to reach your hands to your toes. Reach until you feel gentle tension but do not bend your knees or strain to reach your toes. Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
While lower back pain is more common, you can also suffer from upper back sprains and tightness in the muscles of your neck and upper back. Relieve your muscles with the head press stretch. Sit with your middle and lower back against your chair and your chest held high. Keep your chin level with the floor and look straight ahead. Slowly move your head and neck straight back as far as possible while keeping your chin and forehead level. Do not tilt your head. Hold your head back for three to four seconds and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise five times.
Perform the single knee tuck stretch as part of an overall stretching program that targets all your major muscle groups. If you are new to stretching, begin with smaller stretches and gradually increase your stretching as you become more flexible. Don't bounce while stretching as this can cause small tears in the muscle. Keep each stretch steady and slow. Stretch to the point of tension and some discomfort but do not stretch to the point of pain. If you feel any sudden pain during the movement, stop the stretch immediately.