Is your lower back pain keeping you from working, sleeping, and exercising? Lower back stretches can relieve aches and strengthen your back muscles.
If you have or had lower back pain, you’re not alone. In fact, more than 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. One of the best ways to relieve back pain and strengthen lower back muscles is with simple stretching. A study in Internal Medicine found exercise alone is effective in preventing lower back pain. Before you do any lower back stretches, talk to your doctor.
It’s important not to overdo it; if you don’t feel comfortable, stop exercising and consult your doctor. The following lower back stretches are designed to be gentle.
1. Seated hamstring stretch. What’s good about this one is it’s gentle, making it a great place to start. You can do this at home or in your office. All you need is a chair. Sit on the edge of the chair with your feet out in front of you. Stretch your right leg out in front of you with your heel on the floor and your toes pointed back at you. You can feel a gentle stretch in your calf muscle. Make sure you are sitting up straight. Slowly tilt your pelvis forward. Hold for 10 seconds. Now switch to your left leg and do the same thing. Alternate your legs and do between five and 10 stretches per leg. This stretch reduces lower back pain.
2. Try a gentle twist. Twisting while you sit stimulates your digestion and circulation, tones your abdominals, and strengthens your lower back muscles. Sit near the edge of a chair and have your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle. Take a deep breath and press your backside down into the chair. Make sure you’re sitting up straight. Lengthen your spine by imaging a string running from your tailbone up through your spine, neck, and the top of your head; this imaginary string is holding you up. Now lift your arms up over your head.
Lower your arms and exhale. As you do, gently turn to your right. Place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. You can rest your right hand on the chair or wherever it feels comfortable.
As you twist, you can feel a gentle stretch in your spine. Exhale, hold the twist, and count for 10 seconds. As you exhale, you can twist a bit further.
Take another deep breath and release the twist so you are in a sitting position. Now, try this by alternating to the other side. Do each side 2 to 3 times.
3. Simple back bend while seated. Many of us tend to slump in our chairs, which overtime can cause back pain. This stretching for lower back pain exercise starts by sitting on a chair with our feet flat on the ground. Place your hands on your lower back; have your fingers pointing downward and your thumbs wrapped around your hips.
Take a deep breath, and as you breathe, press your hands into your hips and lower back. Tilt your head back so you’re looking up at the ceiling. Exhale.
Slowly inhale and, while you inhale, push your lower back and hips forward. Hold for a count of 10 while slowly inhaling and exhaling.
Then gently push your lower back and hips to their original seated position. Repeat 5 times.
4. Curl-ups. This is a toned-down version of a sit-up. The curl-up strengthens core muscles. You start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your arms across your chest. Breathe in and as you exhale, gently lift your shoulders — just your shoulders — off the floor. Repeat 10 times and exhale each time you lift. Inhale as you gently move back down.
5. Leg lifts. Lie on your back. Bring your right knee to your chest while your left leg is on the floor and your toes are pointing toward the ceiling. Straighten your right leg and slowly lower it to the floor. Repeat 10 times with both legs. Inhale when you move your knee towards your chest and exhale as you return your leg to the floor.
Always be sure to warm up before you start any of these lower back stretches, and stop if you feel any pain.
March 27, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN