If you're suffering from the pain of a bruised back muscle, stretching might be the last thing on your mind. But stretching bruised muscles increases blood flow to the area, which can increase healing time. Stretching will also help you avoid the muscle pain and tension that often happens when a bruised back sidelines your normal exercise routine.
As with any injury, talk to your doctor before you begin a new stretching or exercise routine.
If symptoms get worse or you experience severe pain while stretching, stop and call your doctor.
Warm up by walking, cycling at a slow pace or swimming before you stretch. A low-intensity warm-up can help your muscles become more flexible, and it's generally safer to stretch warm muscles. Avoid any warm-up activities that strain your back, such as jumping, lifting or bending.
Stretch your lower back by standing in front of a sturdy piece of furniture such as a heavy desk, couch or chair. Gripping the furniture for support, slowly bend your knees and squat down, while keeping your arms straight. When you are in a full squat, lean back until you feel a stretch, then hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
Stretch your middle and lower back muscles by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet lifted, pointing toward the ceiling. Grasp the backs of your thighs with your hands and pull your knees toward your shoulders until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
Place your feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise your hips off of the floor until you feel a stretch, then hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
Stretch your middle and upper back muscles by positioning yourself on all fours, face down. Slowly lower your back and stomach toward the floor, then arch your back upward. Repeat five to 10 times.
Stretch your upper back and shoulders by sitting up straight and facing straight ahead. Bend your elbows and move them behind you as if you were trying to make them touch. When you feel a stretch, hold for 15 to 20 seconds.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.