Today we’re talking about the three most effective stretches to relieve low back pain.
Before you run out to buy a spandex outfit or search Spotify for a jazzercise playlist, I’ll tell you right off the bat that this stretching routine can be done pretty much so anytime and anywhere which makes it office friendly for those long days when there’s no time to grab a yoga mat and head to the local gym or studio.
Because really, we’re all short on time, and self-care that can be done anywhere is easier to work into your daily wellness ritual.
Back pain has many different causes, but both acute and chronic low back pain can usually benefit from certain kinds of gentle movement.
Whether your pain stems from an old injury or a recent sprain, you can still improve your range of motion and feel more comfortable by incorporating stretches into your daily routine. Just five minutes a day can go a long way towards becoming pain-free.
Will Stretching Actually Make A Difference For You?
You may have heard that daily stretching can help keep you both heal and avoid injury, but just why is stretching so important?
Here’s the reader’s digest version: long and loose muscles are happy and healthy, and chronically shortened, tight muscles are painful and tense. Stretching elongates and loosens the muscles, momentarily taking them out from under the loads they typically bear, which allows them the rest they need to stay healthy.
Sound good? Great! Now let’s go over a manageable 5-minute stretching routine to reduce your back pain.
Setting The Stage For Stretching Success
Before you jump into these stretches, make sure you’ve set the stage for them to work their magic.
Warm up the back and core before this routine by doing some gentle walking, standing in place while reaching side to side, and getting any blanket, cushion, or pad you’ll use for your knees during the stretches.
Laying down a towel, yoga mat, or just ensuring you’re on a carpeted surface may make these stretches more comfortable. Or you can try my personal favorite, stretching on the warm grass outside!
Stretch #1: Child’s Pose
Why it helps
How to do it
Coming down onto the ground or your mat, you’ll first get onto your hands and knees. Then, move your weight back until your hips are stacked above your ankles but your hands remain where they started. Stretch your hands out and lower your chest towards the floor. Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel the stretch throughout your low back. If you want to isolate one side of the low back, you can slowly walk your hands to the right side by about 12 inches, and lean your hips back over your heels again while holding your hands in place. This will isolate the left side of the low back in a deeper stretch. You can then walk the hands to the opposite side and lean back while holding them in place, which will isolate the other side.
Stretch #2: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Why it helps
All the big movements you do each day while walking, sitting, driving, or standing involve the hip flexors, and when overly tense these muscles can cause serious back pain. This stretch is an excellent way to engage multiple hip flexors including the psoas, the muscle that connects the low back with the legs and aids in gross movements like hip flexion and extension.
How to do it
Begin by kneeling in a half-lunge position, with one leg out in front of you with foot flat on the floor, and the rear knee resting on the ground or a rolled up blanket or mat. Place your hand on the hip of the kneeling leg, and contract your abs and glutes to be sure you’re not swaying your low back and pushing your stomach forward. Now you’ll very slowly lean forward, keeping your torso upright and straight, being careful not to “push” the hip of the kneeling leg forward and accidentally sway the low back. You’ll instead focus your energy on moving the body forward in a fluid motion from the top of your head all the way down to where your knee is in contact with the ground. You only need to move forward by a few inches to feel the stretch. You should feel the stretch in the front part of your kneeling hip. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side.
Stretch #3: Supine Figure Four
Why it helps
The piriformis, an external rotator of the hip located in the upper gluteal area, is a crucial supporter of your lower back. The piriformis contributes to a lot of back pain, and this stretch is a simple way to lengthen it and maintain its flexibility.
How to do it
Lay on your back with your knees bent and both feet on the floor. Take your involved leg and cross it over the other leg at the knee. Interlock your fingers behind your uninvolved leg at the back of the thigh, and pull the uninvolved leg toward your torso. Hold this position for 30 seconds. Be sure to maintain balance in the body by repeating this stretch on both sides.
Making Your New Stretching Routine A Consistent Habit
That wasn’t too bad, was it? I told you we weren’t going to get all Jane Fonda on you!
Start incorporating this 5-minute stretching routine into your day by choosing another habit to tie it to, such as brushing your teeth or taking off your shoes after getting home from work.
Once you’re successfully doing it once per day, get more results by upping the frequency to multiple times per day.
Pairing a regular full body massage with your daily stretching routine is a great way to keep your lower back pain-free.
You’ll be amazed at how loose and flexible your low back will feel after doing this stretching routine on a regular basis.