More and more people in the U.S. are experiencing lower back pain. Studies have revealed that roughly 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in life. Ultimately, lower back pain is one of the leading causes of disability in America. While this may not sound too optimistic, most cases of lower back pain are due to mechanical issues. This means that it is possible to reduce or eliminate the pain via back stretches and exercises.
The lower back supports the weight of the upper body, while also providing mobility. It is quite remarkable, but this complex structure of nerves, ligaments, joints, and interconnecting bones also makes the back susceptible to pain. Because of the overlapping nerve supply to discs, muscles, and ligaments, the brain can get confused on what is causing lower back pain. For instance, a torn muscle can feel liked a slipped disc, both of which create inflammatory responses and muscle spasms.
Stretching is one of the easiest, and most realistic, things you can do to provide relief and increase your mobility. While some injuries may require chiropractic therapy, tight muscles can be self-remedied. We are meant to move and lower back pain can stem from lack of movement. A little movement goes a long way, so use the following exercises and stretches to help your back.
This common yoga position helps to stretch the lower back. Begin on your hands and knees on a cushioned floor, or on a yoga mat is fine. To start, knees should be under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Extend your hands forward and place them on the floor. Slowly sit your hips back towards your heels. If you can go all the way down, great! If the pain is too severe, place a pillow under your belly to prop yourself up. Remain here for about one minute.
Lay flat on your stomach with your legs straight and arms extended. Slowly lift your legs and chest to create a banana shape with your body. Keep extending your arms squeeze your butt to establish tension and strength along the back. Remain in this position for 30 seconds. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat two or three times.
From the apex of the arch position, slowly kick with your arms and legs. By doing this, you add dynamic movement to help increase mobility. Complete 50 repetitions.
This stretch helps to elongate contracted lower back muscles. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Using your hands, slowly pull your knees toward your chest, making sure to keep your back flat on the floor. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and then return to the starting position. Alternatively, you can extend one leg all the way out and bring the opposite knee to your chest and hold the position before alternating legs.
Lower Back Twist
Not only does this stretch help to stretch your lower back, this pose also helps to stretch your gluteus muscles, which can tighten as a result of low back pain. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your arms out to the sides to make a “T” position. Keeping your shoulders on the ground, slowly roll your knees to one side and remain there for 30 seconds. Return to the starting position before repeating on the other side.