Ah, camping. The great outdoors: who doesn’t love ‘em? It’s always nice to get out of town, breathe the fresh air, and appreciate nature. And, the best part is when the moon is high, the stars are bright, and you wiggle down into your sleeping bag and enjoy the comforts of the cold, hard ground . . . Everyone loves that, right? No? Okay, let's admit it - camping is fun, but sleeping while camping is often uncomfortable and it isn’t doing your back pain any favors.
Fortunately for you, there are six easy, back-relaxing stretches you can do before bed to both enjoy camping and wake up feeling as good as new—even if you're sleeping on the ground in the wilderness. Here they are:
The Lazy Twerk
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Put a pillow under your head for support if you need it. Gently tilt your pelvis back. You’re doing it right if you’re pressing the small of your back into the ground as you move. This is a simple stretch that will start to loosen your lower back muscles and prepare you for the next few stretches. Do this stretch 3 to 5 times to get blood flowing to your back.
The Bridge . . . To a place with no back pain
On your back with your knees bent, keep your hands palms down on each side and lift your butt into the air so that you make a straight line from your knees to your shoulder blades. Lift 5 times or more to strengthen your glutes and abdomen. Strengthening your core muscles can help ease back pain.
The Dead Flamingo
On your back with your knees straight, bend one knee either just below your knee (or underneath your knee if you have knee pain), and pull it up to your chest. Only pull so that you feel a nice stretch. (Never pull if it causes pain.) For an easier stretch bend your resting leg. If this stretch isn’t enough for you, try pulling a straightened leg to your chest or try lifting both bent legs up at the same time. We call this the dead flamingo because that’s what you’ll look like while doing it.
The “Bring it Around Town”
You’ve seen that show about the little yellow sponge right? Maybe the “bring it around town” will help you be as flexible as he is. This is a simple stretch that will help loosen the muscles around the lower spine. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Keeping your shoulder blades and feet on the floor, exhale as you let both knees drop down to one side, and hold them there for 10 seconds. Then tilt your legs to the other side and hold. Try this 5 to 10 times.
The “Be the Rock”
This pose is also known as the child’s pose in yoga, but we like this title because you’re camping and becoming one with nature might help you feel less pain. But, stretching the muscles around your pelvis and on your lower back will also help with your back pain. You can do this by stretching in the fetal position. Get on your hands and knees. Bend your knees to put your butt to the heels of your feet and reach your hands forward. If your lower back is tight, you will feel a stretch in the muscles that need it the most. While you’re in this pose, stay relaxed and instead of stretching your hands forward, bring your hands around to your feet. This will provide a little extra stretch. There are a lot of beneficial exercises and stretches in yoga that can help your back.
The Twisted Keister
This one is my favorite. Lie on your back with one knee straight and one knee bent. Lift your bend knee up, and with your opposite hand, pull your leg across your body. Once you feel a good stretch, start counting to 10. Try to keep your shoulder blades on the ground for a deeper stretch. This may make your lower back pop, and it stretches your keister. That’s why it’s so great.
Finally, if you're struggling with common symptoms of back pain, bring the Chirp Wheel+ on your camping trip and use it to loosen the muscles around your spine to help your back stay feeling good all weekend.