The 5 Best Stretches For Low Back Pain
Do you have lower back pain? Chances are, if you’re reading this, that you’re answer is most likely a YES. With the on-the-go, fast paced, high stress lifestyle that most of us live, it’s no wonder that 8 out of 10 people will be affected by back pain at some point in their life.
So how can you keep your lower back pain at bay, or even prevent it from showing up in the first place?! You guessed it right! STRETCHING!!!! We’ve outlined 5 simple stretches that, if performed daily, will help reduce and prevent lower back pain from rearing it’s ugly head!
1. Seated Cross Stretch
This is our FAVORITE stretch and will likely become your favorite too! Why? Because you can do it ANYWHERE! At your desk, at lunch or watching TV at home, you name it! Plus it’s SUPER EASY and stretches the lower back and glute muscles simultaneously.
Simply sit on the edge of a supportive chair (not your recliner or couch please) and cross one leg over the other. Keeping your back STRAIGHT, lean forward attempting to bring your chest toward the crossed-over leg. Be sure to maintain looking forward and DO NOT ROUND YOUR MIDDLE BACK, as this will do more harm than good! Hold for 10-30 seconds and relax. Perform 5 times on each leg. This can be performed 3+ times daily.
2. Child’s Pose
Grab a yoga mat and keep it besides your television at home. Why? Because every night when you sit down to watch your favorite sitcom, you’ll be reminded to stretch while watching! Start by doing child’s pose during the commercial breaks. This posture stretches the shoulders and the entire back, glutes and hips.
Start by coming onto your hands and knees on a yoga mat. Touch both your big toes together and then spread your knees as wide as your mat. Sit back, drawing your hips toward your heels and your straighten your arms out in front of you. Close you’re eyes and BREATHE for 5-10 breaths. Repeat 5-10 times. Not only will child’s pose help you stretch your entire body, it will also help you reduce stress and anxiety. WINNING!
3. Cobra & Upward Facing Dog
Because we’re always flexing forward with our bodies during the day on a computer, cell phone, desk, etc., it’s SO vital to focus on going into the opposite direction of extension as well. In comes the cobra pose and the upward facing dog (pictured below). If you have lower back pain, YOU MUST START with cobra, NOT upward facing dog. These postures stretch out the front of the body, including the hip flexors, which are a big contributor to lower back pain. They also put the lower back into extension, which releases the lower back and hips. BONUS: These stretches strengthen the entire back, which improves your posture as well!
Cobra: Start by lying on your stomach with your hands placed underneath your shoulders. On an inhale, push up but keep your hips on the floor and your elbows bent about 50%. Hold this for 5 breaths and then lower your body back down to the mat. Repeat 3-10 times, depending on your ability. DO NOT OVERDUE THIS ONE!
Upward Facing Dog: (photo above) Perform this posture after you’re able to perform cobra PAIN FREE! Start by lying on your stomach with your hands placed underneath your shoulders. On an inhale extend your arms all the way, lifting your hips and knees off the floor. Hold for 5 breaths, and then lower your body back down to the mat. Repeat 3-10 times, depending on your ability. DO NOT OVERDUE THIS ONE EITHER!
Glute bridges are another fantastic exercise to strengthen the glute muscles and stretch the lower back with extension. Start by lying on your back with your hands placed firmly on the floor. Ensure your head is on the floor and remains straight the entire time (do NOT turn your head from side to side). Bend your knees and bring your feet no closer to your bottom than a fingertips reach. On an inhale, lift your hips up toward the ceiling, ensuring that your knees remain hip-width distance apart and do not splay outward. Hold for 5 breaths and lower down. Repeat 3-10 times, depending on your ability.
5. Knees To Chest
The BEST way to complete all of these stretches for your lower back is with a simple knee to chest squeeze. If you have neck issues, it’s best to leave your neck on the floor (not pictured here). Start by lying on your back, draw your knees into your chest and wrap your arms around them, pulling your knees in closer toward your chest. If wrapping your arms around your knees is challenging, grab a towel to help out. You can hold onto the towel in each hand and utilize that to help wrap around your knees and draw them toward your chest. Try rocking slowly back and forth to give your lower back a slight massage. If you really want to go for the gold, pull in just one leg at a time while leaving the other leg extended on the floor! Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat 3-10 times, as desired. This stretch is also amazing in the morning when you first wake up or just before going to sleep.
So, there you have it! 5 simple and easy stretches that can be performed daily, in just 10 minutes or less. These stretches will help keep your back looser and stronger, reducing lower back pain or preventing it from starting in the first place! Here’s to better spinal health!
PLEASE TAKE NOTE: back pain is NO JOKE and should be carefully managed by your physician. Do not start any stretch or exercise routine before consulting your physician first. Listen to your body, if your back pain isn’t going away, there may be a bigger problem. Call your family physician chiropractor or physical therapist to get to the bottom of what is going on!
Dr. Nichole A. Walz