5 Ways to Stretch Away Back Pain

Simple back and neck exercises to ease aches

A young Caucasian woman tilts her head toward her left shoulder, demonstrating the easy stretches to prevent chronic neck and back pain.

Simple back and neck exercises to ease aches

There must be a lot of children stepping on cracks out there, because eight out of 10 Americans will experience chronic back pain at some point in their lives. Several factors contribute to back pain, like overuse, arthritis, weak muscles and simply getting older.


So what can we do? Start with noninvasive treatments. Scripps orthopedic surgeon Jamieson Glenn, MD, says long-term pain can be minimized by avoiding static positions and taking a few minutes per hour to stretch, in conjunction with a weekly core strengthening program and proper ergonomics.


“A recent 90-year-old patient told me ‘motion is the lotion for our joints,’” he says. “She was correct, but in today’s busy world and with our demanding schedules, daily care of our back and neck is neglected. We all need to take time out to care for our minds and bodies.” 


Here are five stretches he recommends to alleviate aches and pains. 

1. Spine twist

Sit sideways in a chair with your feet on the ground. With your hands on the back of the chair, exhale and gently twist your upper body toward them. Hold for 10 seconds per side.

2. Forward flex

With your feet flat on the floor, bend at the hips, bringing your chest toward your thighs. Let your head drop and your arms hang. Hold for 10 seconds.

3. Neck swivel

Bring your chin toward your chest and roll your right ear to your right shoulder, then look forward and turn your chin to your right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch sides.

4. Flexion/extension

Inhale, arch your back, and look up while pulling your shoulders down and back. Then exhale, round your spine, drop your head toward your chest, and pull your shoulders forward. Repeat 10 times.

5. Chest opener

Interlace your fingers behind you and place your arms on the top of your chair’s backrest. Drop your chin to your chest while pushing your shoulder blades together. Hold for eight to 10 breaths.

MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Trevor Hoffman is featured on the cover of the March issue of San Diego Health.

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.