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When it comes to caring for your back, don't be a dummy
Stretching carefully can alleviate pain
Only about 10 percent of people with chronic back pain are good candidates for surgery.
So what can the rest of us do to ease back pain and help it go away on its own or, better yet, avoid back pain altogether?
Larry Furry, a physical therapist in Huntington Beach, says stretching the hamstring muscles is the most important step.
"People don't realize how much bending they do at the waist," Furry said.
Doug Andersen, a chiropractor in Brea, advises to be very careful about stretching when you're hurting.
"Stretching an injured back that is not used to stretching is like starting a jogging program the day after you sprain your ankle," Andersen said.
The stretches and exercises illustrated in the slideshow photos can get you started toward prevention, as can improved posture.
Keep in mind that the exercises should not cause pain. If they do, you might have a more serious problem in your vertebrae or discs and should seek a doctor's care.