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Does Stretching Help With All Types of Aches and Injuries?

Should You Stretch or Rest a Sore Back?

Oh no – there’s that annoying twinge in your back again! This ache makes it more difficult for you to do simple tasks, such as walking normally and bending over to tie your shoe. It’s been going on for a while, and you start wondering if you should lie in bed all day or look up the best stretches for back discomfort. 

The above scenario goes through most people’s heads. We often worry so much about back flareups or worsening symptoms that we take the safe route and go on bed rest. But is this really helping? 

What You Should Know About Backaches 

Backaches are extremely common. In fact, approximately 31 million American adults deal with discomfort in their lower backs. A person can also experience different kinds of aches; two of the most common ones are acute and chronic. 

Acute aches are short-term and last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Most backaches are acute and only need self-care to treat. Chronic aches last 12 weeks or longer and often occur due to an underlying medical cause. Some treatments and therapies can successfully relieve chronic aches, and rare cases require surgery. 

Common Reasons for a Sore Back 

People can experience tightness, soreness, and discomfort for various reasons. Sometimes, it can be genetics – other times, it can be from our poor habits. Whatever the case may be, it can feel unpleasant. Below are some of the common reasons why your back may be aching: 

Injury or Trauma

Injuries are one of the most common reasons people experience chronic backaches. High-impact events, such as trip-and-falls and car accidents, can speed up the aging process and trigger flareups. Most injuries result in other areas of the body compensating to help you move, which can lead to other aches. 

Below are some of the common back injuries a person can experience: 

  • Muscle strains 
  • Pinched nerve 
  • Muscle sprains 
  • Bruised muscles 
  • Muscle tears 
  • Fractured vertebrae 


Being stressed can have a physical impact on your body. This is because your breathing patterns change and you tense up, causing strain and tension in your back. Being constantly stressed can cause the muscles in your back to weaken and result in chronic discomfort. The best way to avoid backaches due to stress is to develop stress-management techniques. 

Excess Weight

Carrying excess weight can affect the back, pelvis, and knees. The pelvis gets pulled forward the heavier you are, putting more strain on your lower back. The spine can also tilt and become uneven, which can lead to other significant problems. If you already have certain musculoskeletal conditions, obesity can worsen those symptoms. 

Being more active and eating healthier can help bring some of that weight down and reduce the discomfort in your back. Speaking to a specialist and having them develop a custom diet and exercise plan can help you reach your goals quicker and easier. 

Poor Posture

Sitting, standing, or performing any activity with improper posture can strain the soft tissues surrounding the spine. The repeated stress can break down your spine’s structural components over time, leading to chronic aches. If your back is sore, try paying more attention to your body mechanics. 

For example, avoid slouching while you sit or hunching over your keyboard while you type. Use proper body mechanics if you need to lift something to prevent chronic backaches. Most importantly, don’t stand or sit for long periods without moving. 

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a very common condition that causes neck and lower back discomfort. It happens when the discs between the vertebrae become damaged or lose their cushioning. Some of the other common symptoms of degenerative disc disease are a loss of flexibility in the spine and muscle spasms. 

Several other degenerative diseases and disorders can cause backaches, including: 

  • Spinal muscular atrophy 
  • Parkinson’s disease 
  • Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) 


Our bodies change as we age, which can lead to more aches in the back. You naturally start to lose muscle strength and disc space in the spine when you get older. Poor habits can also speed up the natural aging process, making you more vulnerable to discomfort at a younger age. Similarly, good habits can slow the process so you can age gracefully and feel better for longer. 


Many researchers have found a link between smoking cigarettes and discomfort in the back. One reason this may happen is because smoking can damage your arteries, including those in your spinal discs and joints. It also increases your risk of osteoporosis, which thins your bones and can lead to backaches. 

Nicotine from cigarettes can shrink the size of your blood vessels and impact how your body adapts to this. As a result, the ligaments and muscles within the spinal region are more likely to become damaged. Smoking can even impair your immune function, making it harder to heal from issues causing backaches. 

woman sitting in front of a computer with back pain

Overuse or Repetition

Nobody would ever think their everyday activities could lead to backaches, but it’s true! Some of our daily routines put stress on our bodies and can lead to chronic aches if we don’t take care of them. Athletes commonly have this issue since most sports require a lot of repetitive motions that can wear down the muscles. If your job or hobby requires repetitive movements, make sure to stretch more. 

A few other daily activities that can lead to overuse are: 

  • Lifting 
  • Bending 
  • Typing 
  • Driving or sitting for long periods 
  • Sleeping in an unnatural position 

Can Bed Rest Help or Hurt a Bad Back? 

It’s natural to want to rest for a long time if you have aches, especially in your back. While you should be taking it easy while you’re sore, doctors highly recommend against complete bed rest. In fact, it’s crucial to remain as active as possible to strengthen your muscles. 

The only exception is if your backache includes other severe symptoms, such as fever, weakness, weight loss, or loss of bowel and bladder control. 

Best Moves to Help with a Sore Back

Knowing the proper stretches and exercises is important to help you find relief if your back is hurting. The wrong activities could either be ineffective or worsen your symptoms. The best way to relieve backaches is to loosen and strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine. 

Below are some stretches that can help you get relief. These activities are designed to increase flexion in the spine, making it easier to move while eliminating tightness. 

Flexion Stretch

A flexion stretch targets the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and upper back. One of the common moves to achieve a flexion stretch is the chin-to-chest. You should feel a gentle pull in the back of the neck while doing this move. 

Our stretch practitioners may recommend a flexion stretch for people experiencing backaches due to poor posture. It helps relieve some of the tension in the back of your neck from drifting your shoulders forward while you sit or stand. 

Lateral Flexion

This move has the same concept as the traditional flexion stretch, but you’ll be moving from side to side rather than forward and backward. Bend your neck to the side and try to make your ear touch your shoulder; you should feel the stretch in the side of the neck. To ensure the effectiveness of the lateral flexion, keep your shoulders down and back. 

Tight muscles along the sides of our bodies can cause discomfort in the back and neck, and lateral bending stretches those muscles while reducing back tightness. Our team can help improve lateral flexion in your neck, lower back, sides, and hips. 

Back Flexion Stretch

Most people know this as the knees-to-chest move. The back flexion stretch will target the mid and lower back when performed correctly. A great benefit of this move is that it can relieve tension in the lower back and buttocks. For this reason, it’s excellent for people who sit all day. 

Another great thing about the back flexion stretch is that it promotes healthy aging by easing muscle imbalances and increasing mobility. It’s also great for calming the mind, which is another fantastic way to reduce discomfort! 

Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis muscle is located in the buttock region and can cause lower back discomfort when it’s tight. Its primary job is to help you move your hips, upper legs, and feet away from the body. A tight piriformis muscle can also cause sciatica since it covers the sciatic nerve. 

The piriformis muscle can be difficult to target, but using the proper form is key to reaching it. You must be sitting up straight to successfully stretch this muscle. Slouching while sitting is one of the primary reasons your piriformis becomes so tight. Keep this in mind next time you go to sit down! 

Spinal Twists

Twisting poses are excellent for restoring your spine’s natural range of motion. If you have a stiff back, spinal twists are a great way to stimulate circulation and help you move better. Our practitioners may recommend this stretch for anyone with a stiff back, particularly athletes. 

Over time, the muscles and tissues surrounding your spine become stiff and decrease your range of motion. Practicing spinal twists will keep those muscles mobile and reduce the discomfort you may experience. It can also help with several other things, including: 

  • Stress relief 
  • Digestive function 
  • Cellular detoxification 

Thoracic Extensions

You’ll need a prop to support your upper back to achieve a thoracic extension. This move is simple and targets the middle section of your back, or the thoracic spine. You use this area frequently to lift things, move your neck, and rotate your trunk. If your thoracic spine is stiff, your mobility becomes very limited. 

Thoracic extensions can do more than improve mobility in your upper and middle back. These types of stretches also teach core control and stability, which are also beneficial for helping you move better and more safely. 

Overhead Arm Reach

You’re probably already familiar with this stretch, as it’s commonly used during cooldowns. You also most likely automatically do this stretch the moment you wake up in the morning! It makes sense since it targets your lower back and core while helping to loosen stiff neck and shoulder muscles. 

The overhead arm reach is beneficial for eliminating backaches for various reasons, from lengthening the spine to releasing tension. This position also invigorates the nervous system and energizes you. This makes it much easier for you to move and decreases the chances of you injuring yourself during a physical activity. 

Hip Stretch

Since your hips support your lower back, it makes sense to release tension in those muscles. A sore back often accompanies tight hips, and stretching those muscles can help you maintain spinal flexibility. Many hip stretches are also beneficial for improving flexibility in the lower body, which is a huge advantage for runners. 

Keeping your hips nice and limber can decrease lower back discomfort and improve your stride length. It’s also beneficial for reducing swayback posture (lordosis), which is a large inward curve in the lower back. Symptoms of this common postural misalignment can sometimes affect a person’s ability to move. 

Things to Avoid with a Bad Back

Knowing the best things to do with a sore back is great, but you also want to keep in mind the activities you should avoid. Certain habits can cause flareups or even worsen your backaches. If you’re looking for relief from your aching back, make sure to avoid the following: 

  • Heavy lifting 
  • Pro-inflammatory foods 
  • Repetitive bending 
  • Contact sports 

Stretch practitioner stretching a man's arm

How Can Practitioner-Assisted Stretching Relieve Back Soreness? 

People with sore muscles in their backs can find relief by coming to Stretch Zone. Our experienced practitioners are trained in the Stretch Zone method, which helps re-establish a more ideal resting muscle tone. As a result, tightness and soreness are alleviated! Regularly visiting a Stretch Zone can also correct muscle imbalances and compensational shifts due to a bad back. 

Do You Need Help Finding the Best Stretches for your Back Ache? 

Is your tight back preventing you from moving the way you used to? Our team at Stretch Zone is dedicated to helping individuals discover the best ways to ease their discomfort, so they can feel younger again. Our method re-educates the muscles to move more functionally with less effort, regardless of your lifestyle. 

We’d love to help you regain your ability to continue doing what you enjoy without limitations. Find a Stretch Zone location near you and schedule your first free 30-minute stretch!