When most people experience a sore or pulled back muscle they think the best thing to do is to stretch it out.
Stop right there!
Stretching makes the muscle longer and weaker and more susceptible to tears.
I know, because this is what I thought you should do for pulled muscles for a long time and it never seemed to help.
It hurts so good to stretch a sore muscle when you should be working it, contracting and relaxing it so it has a chance to heal in its proper state.
Don’t get me wrong!
There is a time to stretch and a time to warm the pulled muscle.
If you have a pulled back muscle on one side, which is what I generally see with my clients I have them bend toward or pull into the affected side.
For instance, if your lower right back muscle is pulled, then it’s best to lean or bend into that side to contract the muscles or shorten them and then come back to a neutral body position.
Kneeling Side Stretch for the Lower or Mid-Back Pulled Muscles:
1. Get on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Tighten your tummy muscles just a little like you are squeezing a gem in your navel.
Imagine you are positioned like a dog on all fours.
2. Pretend you are wagging your tail toward the affected side, in other words poke your hip or tailbone out to that side of your body.
3. Turn and look towards your tail so you are making the space between your hip and ribs smaller.
4. Hold for a few seconds then release your spine back to neutral or the starting position.
5. Repeat the exercise for 5-8 repetitions and 2-3 times throughout the day or days until the pulled muscle in your back starts to heal and feel better.
Scapular Retraction for an Upper Back Pulled Muscle:
1. Standing straight possibly up against a wall as shown, or lying flat. Extend your arms out from your chest if lying or up over head and then pulling them down as shown, if standing.
2. Pull your shoulder blades down your back and towards each other or the spine keeping your arms long lying and bending and pulling the elbows down if standing.
3. Hold for a few seconds and then release your arms back to the starting position letting the shoulder blades come apart again and the muscles in the upper back relax.
4. Repeat this exercise for 5-10 repetitions 2-3 times during the day or days until the muscle heals or relaxes.
Remember these exercises, and that your pulled muscle will heal much faster if you don’t start stretching and pulling on it without warming it first by contracting the muscle.