Our spines are at the mercy of every action we make, from walking and sitting to tripping and falling. No matter what movements we make, there’s most likely a muscle attached to something that is attached to the spine!

As we get older, gravity also takes a toll on these bones, compressing down on them. This often manifests as “old age” back pain, neck pain, and posture problems. But it doesn’t have to be caused by getting older. There are many reasons for a person to have compression on their spine.

The good news is that it’s not irreversible. Spinal decompression techniques actually work to open back up the space between the spinal bones that compression, in the form of gravity’s regular impacts, has worked to close.

Decompression techniques are best done with a physical therapist or chiropractor, but there are some you can do yourself at home.

Why Spinal Decompression Works

Spinal decompression is a safe, effective way to alleviate back and neck discomfort. It works because it gently and gradually separates the vertebral bones as they are supposed to be naturally. This separation takes pressure off of the discs of the spine, which reduces the pain you’re feeling.

When your bones have space between them, there is also more room for the nerves to exit the spine as they are supposed to, rather than keeping them tensed up and constantly in a state of discomfort.

As the spine moves opposite the way of gravity, those spinal curves that occur to many people over time straighten out. When your spine is in alignment the way it’s supposed to be, the muscles that attach to it are also in their correct position. They’re not as tense and you won’t have the muscle pain you were likely feeling.

You may even notice better circulation with regular spinal decompression techniques. This is due to the smoother transitioning of the facet joints attached. Improved blood flow gives your body the opportunity to heal any irritated or damages muscles and joints that were causing you discomfort.

Who Can Benefit from Spinal Decompression Exercises?

If your back pain isn’t severe and you are able to attempt simple exercises, you can and should work on your spinal compression problems at home. It’s best to do them in conjunction with a specialist, though, to get the maximum benefit.

For people who suffer from low back pain because of their poor posture, or those who have radiating pain down their leg, numbness, or tingling, spinal decompression exercises at home can help.

However, if you have osteoporosis, fractures of the spine, joint hypomobility, degenerative joint disease, or spinal nerve root impingement, you should consult with your physician before attempting any exercises at home. Additionally, if you have previously had a spinal fusion surgery or have an artificial disc placement in your back, always ask before beginning any new exercise.

If you are pregnant, talk to your physician prior to engaging in any at-home exercises.

Spinal Decompression Exercises at Home

As you begin to attempt any of these exercises, remember that not all of them will work for everyone. If you notice an increase in pain or cause radiation or numbness down your legs or arm, stop the exercise right away. If the pain doesn’t go away, call your chiropractor or physical therapist.

  1. The Ceiling Stretch – Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your hands together and lift your arms up over your head in a full stretch. Your elbows should be straight as you reach up toward the ceiling. Hold the position for 20 – 30 seconds and repeat five times.
  2. The Countertop Stretch – At any stable surface that is about the height of your waist, grasp the surface firmly. As you hold on to the countertop or other sturdy area, lean back gradually until your elbows are straight. Hold the position for 20 – 30 seconds as you inhale and exhale deep breaths. Slowly stand, then repeat three times.
  3. The Yoga Stretch – This simple exercise starts you out on your hands and knees. Sit backward onto your heels, then reach forward, stretching your arms out in front of you as far as they’ll comfortably go. Hold the position for ten seconds. Repeat the steps as you lean to the left, then hold. Repeat again and lean to the right, then hold. Complete each direction’s stretch three times.
  4. The Pull-Up Stretch – Find an overhead bar that is sturdy but low enough for you to reach on your toes or with a step stool. Grasp the bar firmly and then slowly let your body weight hang from it as much as is comfortable. Try to hold the position for 20 – 30 seconds, then repeat two to three times.
  5. The Cat Stretch – On your hands and knees, get into a comfortable position in which your knees are under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders. Arch your back slowly as you move your head towards the floor until your forehead touches the ground, if possible. Gradually return your head and back to their original positions, then relax your back as you look up at the ceiling. Repeat these steps ten times.

Work with a Physical Therapist for the Best Benefits

While these exercises can be done beneficially at home, it’s best to do them in conjunction with a physical therapist or chiropractor. If you live in the Chicago area, PhyxMe Physical Therapy and Chiropractic is the go-to place for all of your spinal and muscle treatment.

Call to schedule your appointment and see how we can work with you to get rid of your spinal pain and reduce the effects of gravity on your body!