By Kornelis Poelstra on 2020-06-22

Ways to Decompress The Spine at Home

Back pain impacts millions of adults across the United States every year, and is a leading cause of time off work and lost wages. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), more than 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their life.

Although professional diagnosis and treatment is always the best first step, visiting the doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor sometimes only provides relief for days or even weeks. But what about time between visits? Or when frequent visits and treatment becomes too expensive?

One treatment that has shown promise with reducing back pain is spinal decompression. Despite its efficacy, this treatment modality has largely been out of reach for those at home. Traditional spinal decompression involves the use of a clinical spinal decompression table, a medical table that is often outside the budget of most patients, and one that requires specialized training to operate.

Can you do Spinal Decompression at Home?

Those suffering from back pain are constantly seeking new ways to reduce pain, get relief and improve quality of life. Although spinal decompression is often carried out in the doctor’s office, there are some techniques individuals can employ at home to safely and effectively decompression your spine.

IMPORTANT: There are several spinal and/or back conditions for which spinal decompression techniques should NOT be used and could be dangerous. Please speak with your healthcare professional or doctor before attempting decompression techniques at home.

What Conditions May Benefit from Spinal Decompression?

Generally, those spinal conditions which increase pressure on the spine or spinal discs may be good candidates for decompression.

The following represent conditions for which spinal decompression may help:

  • Degenerative disc disease 
  • Bulging discs
  • Disc herniations
  • Sciatica

Spinal Decompression Stretches and Exercises you Can Do at Home

1. Overhead Stretches

This simple exercise needs no specialized equipment and can be used by almost anyone.

Steps:

  1. Make sure you’re standing on a flat, even surface.
  2. Position your feet shoulder-width apart
  3. With both arms, reach above your head
  4. Interlace your fingers, hand in hand
  5. While in this position, keep your elbows straight and reach towards the ceiling 
  6. Hold this position for 10-30 seconds (or as long as comfortable)

2. Bar Hang-ups

Required Equipment: Chin-up or pull-up bar, or any safe and secure anchor point that you can hang from.

Steps:

  1. Reach up and grab the bar or secure ledge with both hands
  2. Make sure you have a good grip, then allow your body to hang 
  3. Once you’re comfortable and know you can support your weight, allow your body and muscles to relax, increasing the weight supported by your grip only and providing a deep stretch
  4. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  5. When done, release your grip on the bar and return your feet to the ground
  6. Repeat 2-3x per day

3. Prayer Stretch 

Steps:

  1. Clear a space on the floor large enough to lay on
  2. Get down on all fours
  3. While on your knees, position so that your glutes (butt) touches your feet
  4. Bend at the hip and reach forward
  5. Stretch as far as comfortable without hurting yourself 
  6. Hold for 10-30 seconds
  7. Return to your knees and repeat after 30-60 seconds
  8. Do this 2-3 times per day

4. Cat and Camel Exercise

Steps:

  1. Clear a space on the floor
  2. Get down on all fours 
  3. Position the palms of your hands so that they are below your shoulders, while keeping your knees in alignment with your hips
  4. While in this position (on all fours), arch your back downward while pushing your torso towards the ground. This is called the cat pose.
  5. Return to normal position and push your torso towards the ceiling, creating a hump-like posture. This is known as the camel position.
  6. Alternate between these two positions, holding each pose for 2-5 seconds before switching
  7. Complete 15-20 repetitions
  8. Do this 3-4x per day

Closing Thoughts 

Spinal decompression is a simple, yet often highly effective method to alleviate pain and discomfort in your back. However, always discuss any at-home exercise or treatment with your physician to evaluate safety and efficacy. By following the tips in this guide, you may be able to reduce back pain, regain mobility and alleviate symptoms associated with spinal cord compression. For more, be sure to follow orthopedic surgeon news at The Robotic Spine Institute of Silicon Valley located at 340 Dardanelli Ln, Suite 10, Los Gatos, CA 95032.

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