Lower back discomfort may affect many aspects of your life, from sleeping to exercising to walking. When you’re suffering from the pains and, frequently, crippling discomfort of lower back pain, all you want to do is lay in bed. However, studies suggest that doing a mix of strength and aerobic workouts, as well as stretching, two to three times per week may help prevent and alleviate lower-back discomfort. (This is where our list of lower back pain stretches comes in!)
While stretching may not cure all back pain, people with lower back discomfort may have stiff hips and legs, so strengthening and releasing these muscles might help you find relief. Gentle stretching is convenient when you’re in pain, and it frequently delivers the quickest relief, according to Jamie Costello, fitness director at the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you get the most out of your stretching.
The following are some things to think about before you begin
- Stretch your lower back cautiously, particularly if you have an existing injury or other health issues, and if you’re in discomfort, visit your doctor before starting a new sort of activity.
- Hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds, ideally 30 seconds or more. The longer you hold these stretches, the more pain relief you will get.
- As an alternative to hurrying through the routines, Costello recommends listening to relaxing music and taking advantage of the stretching time to rest and rejuvenate.
- Don’t forget to take deep breaths! It may sound silly, but focusing on your breathing can help you cope with any discomfort.
Pose of a Child
This basic yoga posture gently stretches the low back muscles, which are likely constricted if you’re in discomfort.
Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your hands exactly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Lie down on the floor and extend your arms out in front of you, palms down. Slowly lower your hips into your heels, lowering your head and chest while your arms stretch deeper and reach towards the wall in front of you. If this stretch is too much for you, position a cushion beneath your belly to hold yourself up and reduce the stress on your low-back muscles. Hold this stance for 20 to 30 seconds, or for as long as you can.
The Cat/Cow Stretch
This dynamic technique, which builds on Child’s Pose, stimulates the low-back muscles in two directions to assist extend constricted muscles and ease discomfort.
A cat/cow stretch is performed as follows: Begin on your hands and knees in tabletop posture, with your hands exactly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. In this posture, your spine should be parallel to the ground. Then, curve your back, extending your mid-back between your shoulder blades in the same way as a cat does. Hold for five seconds, then relax and let your stomach sink while gently arching your low back and holding for another five seconds. Repeat these exercises for at least 30 seconds.
This stretch not only stretches your lower back but also your glutes, which may tense when you have low back discomfort, creating even more agony.
A supine twist is performed as follows: To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Make a “T” with your arms out to the side. Maintain your shoulders on the ground while gradually rolling your knees to one side. Keep your knees in this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then return to the middle and repeat on the other side. If the strain is too much for you, lay a cushion or a stack of blankets under your knees as you spin to each side.
This position, like the others on this list, lengthens constricted low back muscles.
How to Perform a Knee-to-Chest Stretch: To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Bring your hands behind your knees or just behind your kneecaps to relax. Bring both knees to your chest slowly, using your hands to gently draw your knees in. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then return to the beginning position by moving your hips side to side and up and down to assist massage your low back.
The Pelvic Tilt
When you have lower-back discomfort, you may feel as though your whole pelvic region is immobile. This stretch might help you gradually reintroduce mobility to this region.
To begin a pelvic tilt, lie on a yoga mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Try to maintain your low back in a neutral posture by relaxing it (which means you should feel a slight curve in your low back if you place the top of your hand under your back). Activate your core muscles, then gently tilt your pelvis forward to flatten your low back against the floor. Rep 12 to 15 times more.
This traditional yoga stance opens the hips as well as massages the lower back. “This posture extends your outer glutes as well as your piriformis, which may both contribute to a stiff lower back,” explains Hilary Wright, Y7 teacher, and director of continuing education.
What is a supine figure? four stretches: Lie on your back on a yoga mat, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise your right leg, flex it, and cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Stay here if this is sufficient, or pull your left knee in and hold behind your left leg to enhance the intensity. Hold for 10 to 15 breaths before switching sides.
Hand-to-Big-Toe Stretch While Lying Down
Stiff hamstrings and adductors, often known as your inner thighs, may lead to a tight lower back, according to Wright. This position stretches the muscles by loosening them.
A reclining hand-to-big-toe stretch is performed as follows: Lie on your back and raise your right leg to your face. Depending on how tight your hamstrings are, place your hands behind your thigh or calf. Maintain an active opposite leg and a grounded opposite hip. Your head and shoulders should remain firmly planted on the ground. Hold for 10 seconds. Allow your right leg to fall out to the right while maintaining your opposing hip planted. Only drop the right leg out to the side as far as you can without elevating the opposing hip.
According to Wright, this posture expands your outer glutes, which may cause low back discomfort if they are tight.
Cow-face posture is performed by bringing your left heel toward your right glute while keeping your left knee straight in front of you from a sitting position. Bring your right leg on top of your left, stacking your knees so they face straight forward. It is OK if they do not stack squarely on top of one another. Your feet should be on each side of you, with your toes pointed back. Sit tall to keep your spine long, or add a tiny forward bend to improve intensity.
The Bridge Pose
“Extending through the sit bones helps stimulate the gluteus maximize bottom portion, which helps support your low back while releasing discomfort and tension,” Wright explains.
Bridge posture is performed by lying on your back, bending your knees, and placing both feet on the yoga mat. Check that your feet are hip-width apart and that your heels are near to your glutes. Lift your hips by pressing onto your feet. Soften around your sacrum and stretch your sit bones toward your knees from here. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
Plank for the forearms
According to Wright, this plank version works your core, which will help relieve strain on your low back by strengthening the muscles around it.
A forearm plank is performed as follows: Drop your forearms onto the mat immediately behind your shoulders from the peak of a push-up posture. Depending on how your shoulders feel, you may interlace your hands or bring your forearms parallel to one another. Kick with your heels and engage your core. Hold for at least 30 seconds, gradually increasing to one minute.
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