Pump the brakes on back pain! Firefighter Tim says, "At some point or another it seems we all suffer from some sort of back pain, stiffness or soreness. Anyone who has suffered from back pain knows how much this can affect everyday life in all your activities. Here are some different stretches and exercises that may help you prevent or relieve back pain."
Foam Rolling your I.T. band: Start by lying on your side, support your body weight with your legs and arms, and lie with a foam roller or ball under the upper, outside portion of your thigh - Use your legs and arms to roll the length of your IT band along the ball, traveling right down to just above your knee joint. As you get closer to your knee, you may feel more tenderness, so be prepared to use your arms and legs to relieve so pressure on your IT band. Roll back to the upper portion of your IT band, and continue back and forth in this fashion for a few passes.
Cat and Camel: Get onto your hands and knees, with your knees spaced hip-width apart and your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Tighten your abdominal muscles and arch your spine upward toward the ceiling. Hold the position for at least 10 seconds, then slowly relax your back. Allow your stomach to fall toward the floor, bring your shoulders together and stretch your back downwards into a swayback position. Hold for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position.
Arm Leg Raise: Position your hands and knees on the floor, ensuring your palms are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips; place a cushion beneath your knees for comfort if needed. Draw in your TA first before raising an opposite arm and opposite leg. Both the arm and leg should be straight and your head should not be extended looking up to protect your neck. Hold at the top for approximately 5 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.
Bottom heel stretch: Start on all fours on your yoga mat. Your knees should placed below the hips and the arms under the shoulders with the elbows locked. Make sure you stick your neck outside and long without overarching your lower back. Take your bottom backwards slowly towards your heels.
Cobra stretch: Lie on a mat on the floor face down. Place your palms on the floor directly under your shoulders, almost as if you were going to do a pushup. Straighten your arms out while trying to keep your hips in contact with the ground. You should feel a stretch throughout your abdominal muscles and a slight tensing sensation in your lower back.
Side Plank: Lie on your right side, in a straight line from head to feet, resting on your forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder. With your abdominals gently contracted, lift your hips off the floor, maintaining the line. Keep your hips square and your neck in line with your spine. Hold 20 to 40 seconds and lower. Repeat two to three times, alternating sides.
Knees to Chest: Gently raise one bent knee up enough so you can grasp your lower leg with both hands. (Interlace your fingers just under the knee.) If you're doing the two-legged version, bring one leg up and then the other. It takes a lot of abdominal strength to protect your back when you bring both legs up at once.) Also, if you are doing the two-legged version, interlace your fingers or clasp your wrists between the lower legs, just below the knees.
Knee swivel/Rolls: Lie on your back, keep your knees together and raise them slightly. Keep your arms out to side and then let you back and hips rotate your knees from side to side.
Pectoral Stretch: Place your forearm against the corner of the wall with your opposite side open to the room. Gently press into your right forearm as you lean your side into the open space of the doorway. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds, then switch sides.
Be sure and follow Firefighter Tim on Twitter: @firemantimcfd