This is Dr. David Middaugh, Physical Therapist with El Paso Manual Physical Therapy.
I get asked all the time:
“If I have back problems what stretches should I do and what stretches should I not do.”
It’s hard to give you exactly what to do without knowing what’s going on, but let me give you three stretches that are really important to be avoiding right because it can cause some serious problems down the line.
#1 – Cobra Stretches
Cobra stretches a.k.a. back extensions.
They look like this, you’re going to lay down on your stomach, don’t do this by the way just showing you what not to do, and then you press up like that.
That can seriously aggravate your back problem.
People do it all kinds of different ways, they go up and hang out there or they do repetitions or they go up and down.
Unless you know what’s going on in your back it is one to avoid.
It can be one to do if you’ve got a specific type of back problem, but if we’re just playing it safe because we don’t know what’s going on yet, I would avoid that cobra stretch.
#2 – Twisting
Twisting in your spine. Whether it’s in sitting or standing or laying down….
Anything where you twist all the way left or right in our spine.
It’s especially bad if you’re doing it fast or with weight.
Some people will use a weighted ball – that is not a good thing to be doing right especially if you’ve got a disc issue in your back it can really aggravate a disc problem.
#3 – Toe Touches
Toe touches. This can be done all kinds of different ways.
One of the most common ways is when people put their legs down straight like this and reach for their feet and hang out there.
You might feel some stretching in the backs of your legs, into your hamstrings and calfs as well.
If you’ve got a nerve problem along with this back problem like sciatica or something like that, definitely avoid toe touches!
It might feel good in the moment but it can cause some problems down the line and we want to make sure we know what’s going on before we give you a specific type of stretch or exercise to do.
So guys if you’re doing any of these stretches, the cobra stretch where you’re going back, any sort of twisting stretch or toe touches stretches, please stop doing those right now because it could be making your back problem worse.
Now keep in mind that all these stretches might feel good to do in the moment like right now, but what I’m talking about is it can cause some serious problems later on down the line.
If you have any questions give us a call or comment here and we love to answer them.