Classical Stretch Back Pain Relief and Prevention

Miranda Esmonde-White
Year Released: 2010

Categories: Athletic Stretch

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The Main Menu of this DVD reads as follows:

Introduction to the Workouts
14 Min Upper Body Back Pain Relief Workout
14 Min Lower Body Back Pain Relief Workout
30 Min Back Pain Prevention Workout

In her 11-minute introduction, Classical Stretch founder Miranda Esmonde-White describes her own history of chronic back pain. She states that she developed this program based on some of the exercises which she learned from chiropractors and other health professionals, and she maintains that since she began this program, she no longer experiences back pain. She does encourage you to first seek evaluation from a physician if you are having back pain; however, she asserts that 80% of all back pain can be helped by exercise.

Miranda devotes the remainder of the introduction to talking about how back pain develops and how to use the workouts. She recommends using the short (14-minute) lower back practice as soon as an attack of back pain begins in order to work through the pain (later, she also reviews mini-stretches which you can do anywhere as well as how to appropriately use both ice and heat). Then, she recommends using the longer (30-minute) back prevention workout daily--or even twice per day--for as long as needed until the pain has completely gone away. After that, Miranda actually recommends that you continue by using one of her TV episodes daily for ongoing prevention, as these provide more balanced, overall strengthening.

I have broken down each of the three workouts in detail below.

Upper Back (actual time is 10.5 minutes)
Miranda notes that since upper back muscles don't spasm in the same way that lower back muscles do, this workout is more for stress relief. The first half of the workout consists of very gentle stretches. There are some shoulder rolls and a lot of bending/straightening of the arms as well as gentle pulling movements; Miranda gets slightly more intense with some contracting/releasing of the shoulder blades. For approximately the last 4.5 minutes, Miranda is seated in a chair. From here, she continues with the contracting/releasing and also uses the chair to facilitate some additional gentle stretches. The workout ends with a series of neck stretches.

Lower Back (actual time is 13.5 minutes)
For this workout, Miranda begins seated in the chair. She keeps her body almost constantly moving (which she states is very important when you have pain), performing gentle stretches such as pulling the knees in to the chest. Next, she comes to standing, placing one foot at a time on the chair for more gentle stretches, keeping both legs bent the whole time. With 8.5 minutes lift, Miranda transitions to the floor, where she begins lying face-up. She performs hip/hamstring stretches similar to what are seen in her other workouts, but much more gentle. She then flips over to her stomach for some chest and leg raises; she says that the leg lifts are the most important exercises in the entire program. She concludes this workout with several child's pose stretches.

Back Pain Prevention Workout (actual time is 29.5 minutes)
Miranda starts this workout standing for a short (about 2.5 minutes) gentle warm-up, basically just swaying and moving the body. She then does about 3 minutes of additional gentle stretches seated in the chair. Coming down to hands and knees, she performs a detailed series of cat stretches, moving forward and back as well as to either side. This is followed by a long sequence of hip/hamstring stretches; Miranda goes into these stretches a bit more deeply than she does in the short Lower Back workout. Next, she begins some ab contractions, adding in a pelvic curl and a bit of a twist (she does not perform full crunches). Miranda then comes to a lying face down position for some leg lifts (very similar to the short program) and then to seated on the floor for some additional stretches. With 8 minutes left in the workout, Miranda returns to a standing position. She again uses the chair, this time placing a foot on the seat of the chair for additional hip, hamstring, and psoas stretches. She concludes the workout with both hands placed on the back of the chair for final stretches.

As Kathy mentioned in her review, many of the exercises presented on this DVD are fairly similar to what Miranda offers in her two TV episodes for back pain (one for relief, one for prevention) which are part of the Season 4 collection. However, like Kathy, I appreciate the addition of an upper body segment here, and I could also see using these practices not just for back pain, but also to provide a good stretch any time my back might feel tight, including after a tough workout. It is too soon to say what kind of "results" this DVD might produce for me, and I am not experiencing active back pain right now, so I can't speak to that, but if I do experience low back pain again, I know that I will be glad to have this DVD on hand.

Instructor Comments:
I found Miranda's demeanor to be similar to how she is in the Season 4 back practices in that during the workouts, she frequently talks about her own back pain experience and also notes that you will have to work through some degree of pain (she states that doing nothing is the WORST thing that you can do for back pain). However, she has also become much more polished in her presentation since Season 4, and she appears very professional in this DVD, which is filmed against a gorgeous resort backdrop.

Beth C (aka toaster)


Menu/chaptering: The dvd menu has 4 selections: Introduction (12 minutes), Upper Back Pain Relief (says 14 minutes on the menu but runs 10 minutes), Lower Back Pain Relief (14 minutes) and Back Pain Prevention (30 minutes). The introduction and mini upper back pain workout are single chapters. The mini lower back pain workout has 2 chapters and the 30 minute workout has 3 chapters.

Equipment needed: Chair and a mat

Setting: Filmed at the Rosehall Resort in Jamaica. Miranda appears to be on a walkway with palm trees, plants and a pool in the background.

Note: I have been doing these workouts for a few months but I have never done them while experiencing active back pain so canít speak to how effective they are for pain relief. I use Classical Stretch workouts regularly, 4-6 times a week and own most of the Classical Stretch dvds.

Introduction: Miranda discusses her back pain history. She incorporated what she learned from her treatments into the CS program. She is able to use exercise to prevent her own back pain. She advises that you seek a medical diagnosis and states that most back pain can be treated with exercise but some requires medical intervention. She discusses the causes of back pain and how to treat spasms with exercise, ice and heat.

Upper Back Pan Relief (10 minutes): This workout starts with 6 minutes of standing stretches for the shoulders and upper back. You keep your arms relaxed during this section and move your arms, shoulders and upper body around in different directions. The last 4 minutes are stretches for the upper back and neck while seated on the chair. Miranda states that the purpose of this workout is to release stress and to take away pain.

Lower Back Pain Relief (14 minutes): Miranda states that this mini workout should be used when you feel back pain coming on or to relieve pain when you are having an attack. Its purpose is to use movement to stretch out the muscle spasm and bring blood and oxygen to the muscles. The workout starts with seated exercises to stretch out the low back, rounding and straightening the back, lifting the knee into the chest while moving, pulling out your flexed foot. Standing on one leg with the opposite foot on the seat of the chair,you drop the upper body down, then add arm reaches and sweeps. At the 5 minute mark, you move to the mat for floor work. While on your back, pull your knee in and stretch across your chest to stretch out your hip, then do some gentle hip and IT band stretches. Hamstring stretches 3x on each leg. Roll over on to your stomach for mini cobras and leg lifts to strengthen your lower back. End with childís pose and movements from side to side in childís pose.

Back Pain Prevention (30 minutes): Once you are able, you are supposed to do this every day while suffering from back pain until you are ready for the regular CS workouts. Its purpose is to rebalance your muscles and relieve pain. It is predominantly stretching (not as gentle as the mini workout) with a few minutes of gentle core strengthening exercises. Starts with gentle standing stretches to loosen up the back. Move to the chair for rounding and stretching the back using the chair for resistance. Lift the knee into the chest and move, cross the foot over the opposite knee and shift the hips around. At the 5 minute mark, move to the mat for 3 minutes of cat/cow and childís pose variations. Move to your back for 5 minutes of hip, hamstring, glute and IT band stretches. At the 13 minute mark, you work to strengthen your core with isometric contractions of your abs while on your back. Add pelvic tilts, lift the head, put foot on the opposite knee and rotate shoulder to work the obliques. At the 17 minute mark, you flip on to your stomach for cobra and leg lifts, then childís pose. At the 20 minute mark, you move to a seated position on the floor to stretch out the back, hips, sides and IT bands. At 23 minutes, you go back to the chair for standing stretches with one foot on the chair (hips, hamstrings, quads, psoas). With both feet on the floor, put your hands on the back of the chair and use it for resistance to stretch out your upper and lower back, sides, hips and hamstrings.

Comments: I was convinced that I didnít need this dvd because I own the older back pain/stress relief dvd and also have the Season 4 back pain workouts. I first got it on loan from a kind vf friend and much to my surprise it has become one of my most used CS dvds over the past few months. I have only done the 30 minute workout a few times but use the mini workouts a lot, particularly the upper body mini workout which I find very effective for relieving tension in my upper body. I like to use it as on add on after upper body strength workouts, for a quick stress relief workout or as a nice break from working on the computer. I use the mini back pain relief workout as an add on after intense lower body workouts or after a long stint in the car. Iím glad to have the 30 minute workout on hand in case I ever need it for back pain because I like the way it is sequenced but it is quite similar to the older back pain workout. One difference to me between the older and the newer workout is that the newer one provides more information on the mechanical causes of back pain and how exercise works as a remedy (both in the introduction and throughout the workouts). The mini back pain workout on the new dvd offers a quick gentle stretch workout for the back muscles for those in pain. Miranda has a fairly serious demeanor in this dvd and offers a lot of education and encouragement to those suffering from back pain. This is a new and improved version of the older workout and Iím glad to have it.

Instructor Comments:
Miranda sets a more serious tone for this workout than she does in other dvds. She seems very knowledgeable about the anatomy of the back and the causes of back pain and does a lot of explanation and teaching.