Did you know most back pain can be eliminated with stretching?
Rob walked into the 24 Hour Fitness at the UC Irvine location asking for help. He was in obvious pain. He worked as a programmer at Blizzard. His goals where to get ripped, put on muscle, you know the typical male request. I analyzed his body and asked him one question, “When was the last time you stretched?”
“Stretch? I’m here to get chiseled for the ladies,” he smiled.
“Do you suffer from chronic headaches, crippling low back pain, or shoulder issues?”
His smile vanished. “Yes, yes and yes. How’d you know?”
“Well, you kinda look like a turtle.”
Rob straightened up. “I’m a programmer, everyone looks like this at work. That’s just how it is.”
“No, it’s not. Let me explain. A person with perfect posture looks like a skeleton. But when we attach muscles, the problems begin to happen. If the muscles are in the right position like the skeleton, life’s dandy. Right position equals the right length, equals no pain.”
Rob straightened up like a pencil.
Poor Posture Forms Knots in Muscle Tissue
I jotted my head forward. “But when the body’s in a fixed position like sitting, the bones stay in a shortened position for a long time. Unfortunately, this position causes knots to form in the muscles. These knots in the muscles pull the bones into a shortened position. Those shoulders are forward, rounded, and closer to my chest. This position causes knots in the chest muscles. The knots cause the muscle to be shortened and the shortened muscle pulls the bones closer. The closer bones change the body and causes joint pain. Therefore, the pain you experience comes from your poor posture.”
Rob started slouching again, his body returned to the classic turtlehead position.
“The human head weighs 8-10 pounds,” I told Rob. “Every inch your head moves forward, an extra 10 pounds of weight is added. Your head can add up to 60 pounds of pressure.”
Rob straightened up again to his full 6-2′ height.
“You’re in your early thirties and you look like a turtle. Not a good look. But, it’s not just looking like ET that’s troubling. The shortness in the muscles causes chronic pain. Neck pain is the third most common type of pain for Americans. In addition, neck pain can be either acute (lasting less than three months.) Or the pain can be chronic (lasting longer than three months.) And it’s not just men, women are three times more likely to have this issue.”
- degenerative joints
- lowers breathing and lung capacity
- hurts mood
“Can I fix my head to get rid of the pain?”
“Luckily, there’s a simple solution for neck pain.” Rob followed me to the stretching area.
Neck Pain Stretching Instructions
- hold each neck stretch for a minimum of 25 seconds (30 seconds ideal)
- do all stretches on both sides
- perform at least 3 times per day
Most neck pain can be alleviated and eliminated with corrective stretching. But, the neck stretches need to be performed at least 3 times per day and held for 25 seconds. These stretches need to be part of your daily routine. They can be performed anywhere. You can do them while sitting at work, waiting for the elevator, waiting for a red light, any waiting. Add these stretches into your daily routine and say bye-bye to your turtlehead.
Rob nodded. “What about my low back? It’s killing me.”
Low Back Pain Can be Caused By Poor Posture
- Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
- 80% of people experience back pain in their lives.
- Half of all Americans experienced back pain last year.
- Tight hip flexors, a tight low back, and tight hamstrings can all cause pain in the back.
“You can also get rid of back pain with stretching?” I told Rob.
He looked at me like I was nuts.
How To Eliminate Pain with Stretching
“Stretching prevents and reverses the damage from our work environments. Therefore, a solid stretching routine helps you eliminate pain. Trust me, you want to get rid of pain. Pain directly impairs your ability to make good decisions. When you don’t feel good, bad things happen. Not only, will you remove the pain, but your posture will improve. Perfect posture makes you look taller, fitter and skinnier. Stretching keeps you looking young.”
When you don’t feel good, bad things happen.
I then walked Rob through a corrective stretching routine. Here’s the routine:
Stretching involves holding the muscle past its happy point for twenty-five seconds. Happy point is the last point where there’s no pain. Trust me, you’ll know when you’re past the happy point.
Once you reach the happy point, hold constant tension in the position. Take deep breadths and hold the stretch with the proper posture for at least 25 seconds. You can hold the stretch longer, but 25 is the minimum time to make a change.
Stretching before your workout gets your body ready for movement. This reduces injuries by loosening the tight muscles in your body. Stretching afterward also helps. The increased muscle temperature from the workout increases your flexibility. This means you can stretch farther after your workout. You can also stretch anytime you’re waiting. Maximize your time by stretching anytime it’s possible. You don’t need equipment to stretch. You only need discipline. Discipline is one of the MAD Plan’s pillar’s for making a fitness permanent in your life.
The number and timing of your stretches matters. Muscles respond to length and time. Your body must be held in this position for the change to happen. Be consistent daily, and watch the magic happen. The key to making the pain disappear is consistency.
Here are the pain relieving stretches. Pick the area you feel needs help first. Start with those corresponding stretches. You can also perform all the stretches daily. Doing all the stretches everyday will help your body the most. It’s a simple, but powerful practice.
Click here for your FREE Stretch Guide.
How Long to Remove Pain
Rob wanted to know what everyone wants to know. I told him it can take three to four weeks to see some results, but you’ll see a huge difference in 6 months. Be patient, be consistent and your body will change. You will feel better, and you won’t look like a turtle anymore.
“Will I be ripped?”
This helps, by giving you the right mechanics for your workout. We’ll need to focus on your diet to be ripped. But today, let’s just get rid of your chronic pain, okay?”
He smiled and said, “Okay.”
If you suffer from low back pain, neck pain, headaches or knee pain, you can solve a lot of those problems with consistent stretching. I hope you find this information helpful. If you have a friend or family member who suffers from pain, please share these stretches with them. Pain sucks and we can eliminate it with simple, consistent, and correct practices.
NASM Master Trainer
Best Selling Author, Get Me Skinny
- Alvarez, D. J., & Rockwell, P. G. (2002, February 15). Trigger points: Diagnosis and management. American Family Physician, 65(4), 653–661. Retrieved from https://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/0215/p653.html
- Bron, C., & Dommerholt, J. D. (2012, October). Etiology of myofascial trigger points. Current Pain and Headache Reports, 16(5), 439–444. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3440564/
- Coleman, C. (2017, April 18). Triggers points and physical therapy: Striking a nerve in a polarized profession. Retrieved from https://newgradphysicaltherapy.com/trigger-points-physical-therapy-striking/
- Knot in your neck? 4 ways to relieve trigger point pain. (2014, May 22). Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/knot-in-your-neck-4-ways-to-relieve-trigger-point-pain/
- Myofascial trigger point therapy — what is it? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://namtpt.wildapricot.org/MTPT_What_is_it
- Shah, J. P., Thaker, N., Heimur, J., Aredo, J. V., Sikdar, S., & Gerber, L. H. (2016, July 1). Myofascial trigger points then and now: A historical and scientific perspective. PM&R, 7(7), 746–761. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4508225/
- Clark, M.A., Lucett, S. C., & Sutton, B. G. (2012). NASM Essentionals of Personal Fitness Training (4th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.
- Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.
- Hoy D, March L, Brooks P, et al The global burden of low back pain: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases Published Online First: 24 March 2014. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-204428
- Vallfors B. Acute, Subacute and Chronic Low Back Pain: Clinical Symptoms, Absenteeism and Working Environment. Scan J Rehab Med Suppl 1985; 11: 1-98.
- The Hidden Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on Americans, United State Bone and Joint Initiative, 2018.
- Rubin Dl. Epidemiology and Risk Factors for Spine Pain. Neurol Clin. 2007; May;25(2):353-71.
- Sauver, JL et al. Why patients visit their doctors: Assessing the most prevalent conditions in a defined American population. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 88, Issue 1, 56–67.