You've been working all week, and now it's time to snug into your favorite sexy jeans and slide on a shirt with some pizazz to get ready for date night. A simple dinner and a movie can be less comfortable than it should be, though, if your back is stiff and sore from stress and exercise. Consider adding in another date night, one where you wear yoga pants and a tank top and do some partner-assisted stretching to help relieve your stiff, sore back.
Benefits of Assisted Stretching
Stretching with a partner allows you to get a slightly deeper stretch, the equivalent of performing a move -- arm circles, for example -- unweighted, versus doing arm circles with a light weight in your hand. When you have a partner add some "oomph" to your stretch, you don't have to use a muscle contraction for the stretch, so you can relax into it and enjoy a deeper range of motion.
Stretching for Back Pain
Dr. Peter Ullrich of Spine-Health advises that a restricted range of motion around the muscles and connective tissues around the spinal column can exacerbate back pain. Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can help you prevent back pain and injury and help you recover from soreness, but it may take quite a while to see results, Ullrich says. Keeping your back strong and flexible with regular partner-assisted stretching means you can get out of your yoga pants and into your sexy jeans more often.
Buddy-Assisted Back Stretch
A partner can improve almost any stretch, but one that requires another person to help is the buddy-assisted back stretch. Hike up your yoga pants so they don't scootch down during the move, and stand back to back with your partner. Interlock your arms at your sides, and have your partner bend forward at the waist, pulling you up over their hips and onto her back so that your back arches. Hold this one for 20 seconds, then release.
To perform the quadratus lumborum lower-back stretch, lie on your back and bring your knee to your chest, leaving the opposite leg straight on the floor. Your partner grasps your knee and foot, applying pressure to bring the leg across your body and holds for eight to 12 seconds. To perform the spread-legged lower-back stretch, sit on the floor with your legs spread wide. Hinge at the waist, round your back to bend your torso toward the ground, and have your partner apply gentle pressure to your back to push your torso closer to the ground.
Warm Up First
Before beginning any stretching activity, thoroughly warm your muscles to avoid tearing tissue. Performing a warmup increases your heart rate and blood flow, and literally raises the body temperature and lubricates the joints. Any activity that raises your heart rate can be used as a warmup, from dancing around the living room to doing an easy five-minute jog. As with any physical activity, listen to your body -- stretching should never feel more than slightly uncomfortable, and if it does, stop immediately.
Ari Reid has a bachelor's degree in biology (behavior) and a master's in wildlife ecology. When Reid is not training to run marathons, she is operating a non-profit animal rescue organization. Reid has been writing web content for science, health and fitness blogs since 2008.