Get control of and be mindful of your breathing. Through every stretch you will want to breathe. It sounds silly, but it will help to ease discomfort and ease into and out of each stretch more effectively. Try to hold each stretch for at least 10 seconds, ideally 30 seconds or more. The longer you can hold the stretch the greater the benefit.
Let’s go over a few stretches that can help manage and alleviate lower back. Keeping the following helpful tips in mind can make sure you get the most out of your stretches:
1. Try to remain in whatever pose you choose for at least 10 seconds; although a minimum of 30 seconds is ideal to allow joints and muscles to adequately stretch
2. Stretching should not be painful. You may feel slight discomfort, but it should feel like a gentle pulling sensation
3. Don’t force your body into a pose that’s too difficultStretches should be done on a firm, flat surface
4. Wear comfortable shoes that will stop you from sliding on the floor
5. Move into the stretch slowly and hold without bouncing.
Before starting any kind of stretching or training regimen, you should consider consulting a Licensed Massage Therapist, Licensed Physical Therapist or Certified Athletic Trainer to help you understand your back pain and determine which exercises would be most beneficial for you. Any of these individuals can create an individualized program specifically geared toward your goals. Your program may include stretching, strengthening, stabilization, manual therapies, modalities, and education. They can provide important information on the source of symptoms and educate you on the nature of your back pain to maximize your results.
Stretch 1. Knee to Chest
Lie on the ground with toes pointed to the ceiling, bend the right knee slowly and pull your leg toward your chest gently. Stay in this position for at least 20 seconds, then slowly release and straighten the leg to return to the starting position. Repeat 3 times for both legs.
Knee to chest is an effective way to address lower back pain not only because it stretches the lower back and gluteal muscles, but also because it can help to increase overall flexibility and improve range of motion in the joints. Be cautious with this stretch if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Stretch 2. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose, also known as prayer stretch, helps the lower back muscles along the spine. Start on the floor on your hands and knees with hands positioned under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Then, reach out directly in front of you, extend the arms, and place palms face down. Slowly sit your hips back toward the heels while dropping your head and chest to extend arms further. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. Child’s Pose isn’t just for yogis. If the stretch feels too intense, try placing a pillow under your stomach to prop you up to lessen the stretch of the lower back muscles. You can also place a pillow or rolled up towel under the knees to provide additional cushion. Several other yoga poses can help stretch lower back muscles, such as cat/cow stretch, seated forward fold, downward and upward facing dog.
Stretch 3. Lying Knee Twist
Begin lying down on your back with the legs extended straight out. Then, bend the right knee up and cross it over to the left side of the body. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds to feel the stretch through both the lower back and buttocks and repeat three times on each side.
The stretch helps improve flexibility but can also strengthen muscles along the spine and in the abdomen.
Exercise, fitness and stretching help to keep the back healthy because the discs are able to exchange fluids. Fluid exchange facilitates nutritional intake for the discs, and discs suffering from a lack of fluids can become degenerated and malnourished. Fluid exchange also helps to reduce any potential swelling in nearby tissues.
Additionally, exercising the back helps decrease stiffness by keeping the connective tissue fibers of ligaments and tendons flexible. Improved mobility helps to prevent the connective tissue fibers from being injured when under stress. This ultimately helps to prevent future injury and back pain. Stretching and stabilization helps to build up the muscles around the back, which contributes to alleviating pain.
Remember: you should never engage in exercise or stretching that causes shooting pains or extreme discomfort. If this occurs you need to make sure you’re positioning yourself correctly and then consult a licensed professional for further evaluation.