Release the tension! 10 stretches to relieve pain


Release the tension! 10 stretches to relieve pain is about chronic pain, yoga and stretching.

Chronic pain is unexplained pain that lasts for several months. Around 20% of adults have experienced some form of chronic pain. Lower back is one of the most common problem areas with 1 in 10 people affected.

Chronic pain can be caused by factors including; bad exercise, poor posture, referral pain, repetitive strain injuries, sports, stress and tight muscles. It can also be caused by serious illnesses. I believe some of these caused, or attributed, to my lower back problem.

1 in 10 are affected by lower back pain

I experienced lower back pain for around a year. I was uncomfortable, stressed and losing mobility. After pursuing a diagnosis for several months I was finally told that I had inflammatory disease in my hip and lower back. I was prescribed a strong anti-inflammatory drug that could have severe side effects. The professionals said I might need to take this medication for the rest of my life.

Before starting the medication I researched some alternative options. I tried a yoga practice for lower back pain and found it eased things. Committing to the short practices for some months reduced the pain until it was barely noticeable. I never used the medication.

I was prescribed a strong anti-inflammatory drug

It seemed the stretching from the yoga released a ton of tension, knots and trapped energy. I’ve continued to use yoga, and learned other stretches to open up the muscles in the neck, back, shoulders, hips, legs and sacrum. I find short stretch routines are less time consuming, but as beneficial, as basic yoga.

Stretch it out!

Stretching can help correct your posture and align your body. It strengthens your core, releases endorphins and can aid with anxiety and mental illnesses. Regular stretching also helps to maintain and improve your range of motion, as well as lengthening muscles and preventing tightness. It’s an essential fitness practice and act of self care. If you’re thinking to get started at the gym, you should look at learning some basic stretches.

Stretching improves flexibility

To practice stretching effectively you’ll need a yoga mat and some space. You might prefer to stretch in the morning or at night. Both have their benefits as stretching can invigorate or relax.

You can start small and gradually build up. It’s good to experiment and find the stretches that offer the most relief for your body. There’s a world of information on YouTube and social media that can help.

When stretching; try to focus, take deep breaths and hold each position for a few seconds, or a count of ten. You should experience some discomfort as tension is released, but later will feel the benefits.

This list of 10 stretches to relieve pain is a combination of some simple stretches and basic yoga positions. They’re a starting point for creating a routine, or exploring beginners yoga. They can help to release tightness throughout common problem areas.

1. Triceps stretch

Gentle triceps stretch, alternate arms

A triceps stretch will open parts of the neck, shoulders, back, traps and triceps. Exercise the move correctly and you will feel a gentle stretch in your triceps. 

2. Shoulder shrug

Gently round the shoulders with a full-range shrug

Shoulder shrugs help to release tension in the traps, shoulders and upper arms. You can use them with weights to build muscle, or without weights for a gentle stretch.

3. Standing waist twist

Twist the waist from side to side, feet fixed

A standing waist twist will give you a good stretch in your hips and abdominals. They can help with mobility and your core balance.

4. Hip thrust

Gently thrust the hips up and then return down

Gentle and slow hip thrusts can strengthen your lower back, abs, hips, gluteus, sacrum, neck and chest. Yoga positions like the bridge or banded butterfly provide similar benefits.

5. Door frame chest opener

Grip the frame and slightly lean forward to open the chest

To make this exercise you’ll need to use a structure like a door frame or wall. It will open up the chest, shoulders and arms as well as the side of the body. Alternate arms and adjust position for full release.

6. Standing toe stretch

Standing, reach down and touch the toes or ground

The classic standing toe stretch helps strengthen your core and release tension in the backs of the legs, lower back, upper torso and feet. It can be challenging to begin with but is very beneficial. 

7. Squat stretch

Hold the squat for 30 seconds

A squat stretch is a great hip opener and stretches your groin and gluteus. Essentially it’s holding a squat in position for up to 30 seconds. This builds strength and flexibility in the feet and ankles and helps stability.

8. Lunging hip flexor

Lunging hip flexor, alternate legs

Lunges work all of your lower-body muscles including hips, quads and gluteus. In yoga, the warrior poses will stimulate similar areas. Lunges open up the hips, where people commonly hold tension and negative energy.

9. Downward-facing dog

Downward-facing dog

Downward-facing dog is a foundational yoga pose. With this move you’ll start to build strength in the shoulders and arms. The move stretches the spine and legs and also improves blood circulation.

10. Upward-facing dog

Upward-facing dog

Upward-facing dog is a counter stretch to downward dog. It creates expansion through your chest and builds strength in the arms and legs.

Yoga and stretching definitely helped with my pain and inflammation. Discovering yoga therapy saved me from a life of prescription medication. I endorse researching alternative avenues of therapy because they can help. Of course, yoga and stretching will not work for everyone with chronic pain. You should always take medical advice before embarking on new physical activities.

I recommend the Vini Yoga Therapy for low back, sacrum and hips. For more info visit:

Are you inspired to try these stretches to relieve pain? Feel free to share this post and spread the word.

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All text Copyright, J. Thomson, 2022

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