Stretching your back is important when seeking sciatica pain relief and this can be done mechanically with a back stretcher or manually with the help of a physiotherapist. Otherwise, there are a few simple stretches you can do without assistance that will stretch your back as well but just not as effectively as with the aid of a machine or a physiotherapist. Mechanical back stretchers come in all shapes and put you in many different positions, some comfortable and others awkward. It is important to discuss your situation and figure out the cause of your back pain with a medical professional before doing self-treatment with any of these devices at home.CONTENTS
Sciatica Pain Relief
Finding relief from pain in your lower back and symptoms down your leg requires the aid of a professional like a physiotherapist that understands musculoskeletal injuries, how they happen, and how to address the issue with proper rehabilitation. You will be instructed to do certain stretches and strengthening exercises like extension in prone, core stabilization, and back strengthening.
Using a back stretcher for sciatica pain relief is also used by some physiotherapists and chiropractors in their offices and they are referred to as lumbar traction tables. Strapping you into a harness with two separate belts, the machine is turned onto a setting that intermittently pulls and relaxes your lower back.
More commonly, your physiotherapist will use manual traction to stretch out your back with the use of their hands. Placing one hand on your hips and one on your torso, gently, they stretch apart the spine with rhythmic pulling and relaxing.
How a Back Stretcher Gives Back Pain Relief
If you suffer from chronic back pain then you might be eager to try a back stretcher that will stretch out your tight knotted muscles and reverse the effects of gravity. The goal of a good back stretcher is to pull apart each vertebra in your back for the purpose of relieving pressure on various structures of the spine such as:
- intervertebral discs,
- joints in the spine,
- pinched nerve roots, and
- tight spinal muscles
Taking the pressure off these structures will give pain relief because pinched nerve roots are released and all the spinal structures are more free to breathe. This stretching action allows the discs and joints to reabsorb more fluids, nutrients, and oxygen that are essential for their healing and proper function.
Back muscles, those at the surface and those deep associated with the spine, are stretched out during lumbar traction to release tension. If you find you have lower back pain after standing or sitting for long hours at work, coming home to a back stretcher will give you the instant relief you want without medication. It is helpful for knotted back muscles, spinal degeneration, bulging discs, and lower back arthritis. The forces of gravity are always against our spine and coupled with poor posture and long hours of sitting or standing hunched over spells disaster for the delicate structures of our spine. Stretching your back is the best way to allow it to regain itself and relieve pressure and pain.
Stretching your lower back out properly can be done with clinical grade lumbar traction devices. If you settle for anything lower than that, you may be setting yourself up for frustration and failure. Talk to a professional physiotherapist about your options in trying a good quality back stretcher as they might have a lumbar traction device in their office for you to try. Otherwise, we will show you some good brands that can be used at home and what to avoid.
What Back Stretcher will be Effective for my Sciatica and Back Pain?
There are different forms of back stretchers on the market and it can be overwhelming especially when you are taking time off work to recover from your injury and don’t want to spend a lot of money. It is important to think of it as a long-term investment for the continued health of your spine and prevention of pain reoccurring, so shop wisely and ask your therapist.
You may have come across the DRX 9000 advertised by chiropractors. It is a machine like a traction table that pulls your lower back to target bulging discs in the lumbar spine. The disadvantage to this machine and the treatment plan offered by these chiropractors is that it is much too expensive. You will be looking at paying about $125 per visit and will have to go for at least three weeks. Stretching your back out should not be this expensive.
On the other end of the price scale, there is the inversion table. This will turn your whole body upside down with the intention of stretching out your spine with the pull of gravity. Here your ankles are strapped in and you gradually shift your weight to slowly lower your head down and bring your feet up. You do feel your back stretch out in this position but because you are hanging upside down, your muscles are also working against the stretch. For that reason, it is better to be lying down flat in a relaxed position to fully get a deep spinal stretch of the structures of your spine. This leads us back to lumbar traction devices.
Lumbar traction has been used for years by physiotherapists in their practice and recently it has been becoming available to the patient to take home with them. In the clinic, the device is attached to a table and it is electronically powered and controlled by a computer to intermittently apply a pull to your spine then release. Your therapist will punch in the amount of pressure they want the machine to give you with each stretch and you lie there for about twenty minutes of treatment. The take-home equivalent to this is not a big table, but a small unit that folds out and is pumped up manually with a hand held pump. Two brands on the market that work this way include the Saunders Lumbar Traction unit and the ComforTrac Lumbar Traction. These work with a pressure gauge that can help the patient accurately follow his physiotherapist’s recommended amount of pressure. So if you are wondering if you can use a back stretcher at home, you most certainly can, and it will set you back $400 to$700.
Back traction devices don’t stop there. A number of different options on the market are at your disposal and here is a good article I came across that talks about 5 different back traction devices you can use at home. Perhaps you will find one that will suit your personal needs.
Benefits of using a Back Stretcher
Different conditions or ailments can be healed non-invasively with a back stretcher. Degenerative disc disorders can benefit as this is typically from poor posture habits that put abnormal amounts of pressure on an area of the spine and wear it out over time. Soft protective tissues like joints can wear out if too much pressure is placed on it and this can lead to arthritis. Stretching out the back will relieve this pressure and allow it to heal. Other important soft tissues in the spine that can wear out and cause a problem for you are the intervertebral discs. These are supposed to act as shock absorbers for the spine but can be weakened and worn out over time with poor posture and a sedentary lifestyle. Sometimes this can lead to the disc being squished out to form a hernia that touches a nerve exiting the spine. This is how most cases of sciatica pain down the leg happens and is part of the spinal degeneration process. If you want to give your intervertebral discs and facet joints the room to breathe again then use a clinical grade back stretcher to target your problem area. With repeat treatment over a few days, you will begin to notice sciatica pain relief, reduced lower back pain, a reduction in stiffness, and an increase in your range of motion.
With that said, there are contraindications to using a back stretcher so it is important to know what is causing your back pain and any other conditions in your medical history that might not be suited to using a lumbar traction device. Some instances include osteoporosis, spinal fracture, new injury that hasn’t had a chance to heal, or spinal tumor. Always consult your medical professional before using traction.