Over 80 percent of the population will experience some form of back pain in their adulthood. There are a myriad of reasons that may account for this such as poor posture, herniated disks, and osteoarthritis to name a few.
Tight hamstrings, hip flexors, gluteus, and weak abdominal muscles often contribute to lower back pain.
I’ve tried a variety of programs to relieve muscle pain and tension (and to improve flexibility) such as Bob Cooley’s resistance stretching, yoga and SMR (Self-Myofascial Release).
But I always come back to the gentle stretches, described below, when I need to take a tender approach to my lower back aches.
I like this set of stretches because they are performed in a supine (on the back) position which allows you to move from one stretch to another with ease.
For each exercise, hold for 30 seconds and gently release. Repeat 3 times for each leg and up to three times a day if your muscles are feeling really tight.
When these muscles are tight, you are more likely to experience back pain.
Supine Hip Flexor Stretch – The major muscles stretched are the hip flexors – iliopsoas (iliacus and psoas major) and rectus femoris.
Lying on your back, move knee as close to chest as possible while interlocking your fingers under thigh. Keep opposite leg on floor and gently press knee down.
Supine Hamstring Stretch – The major muscles stretched are the hamstrings.
Lying on your back, bend one knee while raising the other leg up towards the ceiling. Keep the raised knee as straight as possible without locking the knee. Use a strap or band to assist with stretch if the hamstrings are really tight.
When you are feeling pain-free, advance the stretch by keeping one leg straight on floor as your raise the opposite leg towards ceiling.
One leg Crossover/Lying Glute Stretch/Figure Four Stretch – The major muscles stretched are the gluteus midius and gluteus minimus.
Lying on your back, with knee bent bring ankle over thigh. This allows your hip to turn out or externally rotate and flex. Reach between the space between the thighs, interlock fingers and gently pull the legs toward torso.
When you are feeling pain-free, advance the stretch by reaching your hands to the opposite leg just below the knee and bring leg towards torso.
Spinal Twist/Croosover – The major muscles stretched are the obliques but several others are stretched as well (glutes, chest, shoulders and spine).
Lying on your back, pull knee towards torso. Place foot on top of opposite thigh. Place hand on knee and slowly turn torso and lower knee to floor. Extend opposite arm to the side at shoulder level. Press shoulder toward the floor.
Need more advice on low back stretches? Please leave a comment…