Neck and Back Stretches for Beginners

There's a vast array of stretching routines that target your back and neck, most of them easy and effective. These basic techniques are perfect for those who are new to stretching.

Basic Back Stretch

The basic back stretch is one of the most effective stretches you can do to benefit your lumbar region. Follow these directions: Stand upright, contract your abdominal muscles while bending forward at your hips, and lower your hands to the floor. Relax the head downwards and push using the fingertips; feel the stretch in the back as you do this. Maintain this position for 30 seconds (if it's too hard at the start, work up gradually to this length of time).

Wide Back and Shoulder Stretch

This stretch should directly follow the basic back stretch. With your hands remaining on the floor, set your feet wide apart and position your arms inside your legs. Take your hands off the floor and grasp your ankles by wrapping your arms around the back of your calves. Gently pull with your hands, which will open up your shoulders and stretch your upper back. Maintain this pose for about 30 seconds.

The Shoulder Roll

A shoulder roll is one of the easiest stretches you can do. Either sitting or standing upright, rotate your shoulders upwards, backwards, down then forward. Start with small circles and work up to a larger movement. Do 10 circles in the backwards direction, then reverse direction and do 10 repetitions going forward.

Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so take precautions in order to avoid having to deal with neck and back pain in the first place. Maintaining good posture is essential. Take care when lifting heavy objects. Bend down first, and avoid using your back to bear the load as you're lifting; use your legs instead.

Your sleeping habits also play a part in preventing back and neck discomfort. A properly supportive pillow and mattress are important, and keep the temperature set right so that you don't have a restless sleep. By doing a few easy stretches before you go to sleep at night, you'll relax your muscles and have a sound sleep.