Are you dealing with aches of your lower back? Or you are suffering from lower back pain?
When this happens, most people’s initial reaction is to stay in bed. But that might be the biggest mistake you make. Staying in bed will not solve your problem. You might feel initial relief, but the pain might come back very quickly.
Instead, a much better solution to the problem is to do some lower back stretches, exercises for your core, or aerobic exercises https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934575/. These are all ways to ease the pain in the lower back and reduce the risk of another pain attack.
The good thing about stretching is that you can do it while you are in pain. And it provides the best and fastest relief. Fitness experts always say that stretching is the most important part of any workout plan, and when it comes to relief for lower back pain, stretching is the way to go.
Low back pain is the most common and expensive cause of work-related disability in the United States. Statistics show that lower back pain is the third most expensive disorder in terms of health care dollars spent, and it affects 80% of Americans at some point in their life https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10653079.
What causes lower back pain?
Low back pain can be caused by serious conditions, and mild conditions. In terms of serious conditions, the first things that come to mind are fibromyalgia, arthritis, and spondylolisthesis. In most cases, the pain comes from a mechanical cause, meaning from an injury or disruption in the joints, discs, and soft tissues.
With that in mind, mechanical causes for low back pain are:
- Disc herniation
- Muscular imbalance
- Lack of core strength
- Poor lifestyle habits
Prolonged sitting, incorrect working posture, performing repetitive tasks, a sedentary lifestyle, these are all poor lifestyle habits that cause low back pain. And for most people, the lifestyle habits are the cause of the pain.
All of these habits reduce your spinal mobility, which results in atrophy in the muscles vital for spinal support.
Another important aspect is the fascia, which is the connective tissue that wraps around our muscles, bones, and organs. The fascia plays a key role in maintaining postural alignment and ease of movement.
When it becomes stiff and rigid due to poor lifestyle habits, it can restrict movement and cause pain.
Best stretches for low back pain
The most common yoga posture for relieving pain in the entire body, works for your back as well. The pose will stretch all of the muscles of the low back, which are contracted when you are in pain.
- Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Place your hands under the shoulders, while the knees go under the hips
- Reach out directly in front of you, and extend your arms and place your palms flat on the floor
- Slowly sit your hips back toward the heels, and drop your head and chest downward as your arms extend even further
- If the stretch is too much for you, place a pillow under your belly to prop yourself up a bit and lessen the stretch
Cat cow stretch
This is another common yoga stretch for low back pain. The dynamic movement will help you move the muscles in two directions, and it is best done after the child’s pose. This way, you will lengthen the contracted muscles.
- Start with hands and knees on the floor. Your body is positioned in the same way as the starting position of child’s pose, which means hands under shoulders and knees under hips
- Keep your spine parallel to the ground in the initial position
- Round your back, and stretch your middle-back between shoulder blades. You should look like a cat stretching its back
- Hold the position for five seconds, relax, and then let your stomach fall downward as you gently arch the low back and hold for five more seconds. Repeat the movement for one minute
Low back twist
You can use this movement to stretch your lower back, glutes, and all other muscles that are causing pain in the low back. When your muscles are tightened, the twist will help you ease them up.
- Start by lying on your back with knees bent, and feet positioned flat on the floor
- Extend your arms out to the side to form a “T” position
- Keep the shoulders on the ground, and start gently rolling both knees to one side
- Stay to the side for 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to the initial position. Repeat on the other side
- If the stretch is too much, you can place a pillow under your knees when you twist
Your entire pelvic area might feel immovable when you suffer from low back pain. The pelvic tilt is a stretch that will help you bring some movement to the pelvic area, but in a gentle way.
- Start by lying on the floor, with knees bent and feet positioned flat on the floor
- Relax your lower back and keep it in a neutral position
- Turn your core muscles “on”, and then flatten your low back against the floor by slightly tilting the pelvis upward
- Repeat the movement 12 to 15 times
This is another gentle movement that will help you ease the pain in the low back, glutes, and pelvic area.
- Start by lying on your back on the floor with both knees bent
- Open your right knee to the side, and place a firm ball underneath the outer right hip, just in the fleshy side section of your backside
- Allow your body weight to gently melt into the ball
- If you can, try to extend your right leg, the one that is on the ball, and make small rocking motions across the ball
Knee to chest
This is one of the simplest and most common stretches. We’ve all done this at gym classes ever since we were little kids. Same as other lower back stretches, it helps you lengthen he contracted low back muscles.
- Start by lying on your back, knees bent, and feet positioned flat on the floor
- Bring your hands to rest behind your knees or right below the kneecaps
- Slowly bring the knees toward your chest by using your hands to gently pull the knees
- Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to the starting position
We had a child’s pose, cat, cow, and now we turn our body as cobras do.
- Start by lying on your stomach, with your knees squeezing together and your hands on either side of the chest
- Keep your feet on the floor, and start pressing your hands on the floor
- Gently lift your chest and head, and hold at the top for one full breath, pulling your navel to your spine
- Gently lower your chest and head, and then repeat 5 to 10 times
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Lunges are great exercises for lower back, but now we are doing a stretch that is very similar to the lunge.
- Start in a lunge position, with the right foot forward and the left knee on the floor
- Squeeze your left glute, and then gently press the pelvis forward
- Hold for 30 seconds, and then switch sides
Thread the needle
The following exercise will gently mobilize your back spine through rotation and unlock tight muscles in the upper back. It will improve your overall spine health, which will result in less pain in the low back.
- Start on your hands and knees, and your back flat. Fingers are pointing towards each other
- Lift your right arm straight out to the side, and then bend the left elbow
- Thread the right arm underneath the left side, with your aim being to rotate the upper trunk while keeping the hips still
- Hold for 5 breaths, and then switch sides
Bonus Tips for Success
- Try to hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds, but preferably 30 seconds or longer
- The longer you hold the stretch, the more you will experience pain-relieving benefits
- Do not rush through the moves. Turn on music and use the stretching time as a chance to relax
- Do not forget to breathe, as it will help with any feeling of discomfort
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