Six Stretches to Avoid Back Pain

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

Dr. Douglas Chang, M.D., Ph. D., is the Chief Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Professor at the University of California San Diego Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He specializes in the non-surgical treatment of back pain, concussions and other football-related injuries.

Chang offers football players six post-practice stretches to help them avoid back pain.

  • Band-resisted clam shell exercise: Place the resistance band around your knees. Lay down with your knees pointed forward and bent at a 90-degree angle. Lift your top knee upwards 8-12 inches, foot stays in place against the bottom foot.
  • Rectus femoris stretches. Starting on both knees, step forward onto your left foot, aligning your left knee over your left ankle. Bend your right leg and reach back with your right arm. Take hold of the top of your right foot and gently pull the foot toward your buttocks.
  • Calf stretches. Stand away from a wall and put your fight foot behind you and be sure your toes are facing forward. Lean forward at the ankle while bending the right knee and keeping your heel on the ground. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Isometric bird dog holds. This exercise involves resting hands and knees on the ground, positioned so that your back is flat. Raise one arm and the opposite leg, and hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Isometric plank positions. The plank is done by resting your forearms and toes on the ground in a prone position and holding the rest of your body off the ground. Hold for one minute.
  • Downward dog pose. From a push-up position, tuck the toes under, press into the hands and begin to lift the hips up towards the ceiling. Press the hips up, and lift up through the tailbone to keep the spine straight and long.

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