5 Stretches To Relieve Lower Back Pain
Simple yoga stretches you can do anywhere to relieve lower back pain.
Lower back pain (lumbar pain) can be difficult to recover from, especially if you need to sit down at a desk or move around a lot for work each day. Add in other daily activities like running after your kids, tying your shoe laces or lifting something heavy, and your lower back pain is likely to become even more of a hindrance to your mobility. If you’ve tweaked your back before, you’ll be well acquainted with how painful that first week can be when you just need to rest and let your muscles relax. Remember, however, that you’re not alone with 90 percent of adults facing lower back pain at some point in their lives.
Once your muscles have settled, it’s important to get back into some gentle stretching and exercise to mobilise all of the muscles that support your lower back. Here are 5 stretches to relieve your lower back pain. These stretches can help to strengthen and lengthen all the important muscles that stabilise your lower back.
Supine Cat-Cow (Spinal Flexion/Extension on back)
Start by lying on your back on your yoga mat. Bend your knees so your feet are hip-width apart and your knees are directly above your ankles. Next, on an inhale, move your tail bone down towards the floor into cow pose. Make sure you allow your back to arch, so you can stretch the front of your body. On an exhale, move into a cat pose flattening your lower back onto the floor. Repeat these movements in time with your breathing 5 to 10 times.
Table Top with Alternating Knee to Elbow
Start in a table top position with your shoulders above your wrists and your hips above your knees. Make sure your spine is neutral enough to maintain the natural curve of your spine. As you inhale, reach forward with your right arm and extend the left leg behind you. On an exhale, move your right elbow to touch your left knee. Inhale again and reach for your right arm in front and extend your left leg behind you. Once you have completed 5 extensions on one side, change to the other side.
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Stand with your feet together. In an inhale, extend your arms into a T-shape position as you step your feet wide, so your ankles are in line with your wrists. Next, turn your right leg out on an exhale and angle your back foot and hip slightly forward towards your front leg. If you inhale, reach your right arm forward and shift your body to create as much length as possible between your back, hip and front hand. Next, exhale and move your body towards the floor, lowering your right hand outside your right foot or outer shin. In this pose, your left arm should be in line with your left shoulder as you reach your left arm up to the sky. Remain in this pose for 10 full breaths before you change to the other side.
Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
Start by lying on your stomach. Relax your arms by your sides with your palms facing your hips. As you inhale, lift your body off the floor by lifting your arms and legs off the floor. Take care not to use your glutes too much for this pose by focusing on gently lifting the belly from the floor and drawing your tail bone down towards your knees. Stay in the lifted position for 10 full breaths. Repeat 3 times.
Thread the Needle
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your legs hip-width apart. Cross one ankle over the opposite thigh creating a figure 4 with your legs. For a deeper stretch, reach your arm through the opening and hold onto the shin of the leg on the floor. Slowly draw your leg towards your chest and feel the stretch in your glutes. Hold this stretch for 25 breaths and then change sides.
The lower back stretches above are easy to incorporate into your day, taking just 5 to 10 minutes to work through each time. With a range of health benefits and pain relief these stretches can provide, investing some time each day to complete these stretches will reap enormous benefits for your lower back and overall health.
Helpful resources on lower back pain:
Akeda K, et al. (2015). Risk factors for lumbar inter vertebral disc height narrowing: A population-based longitudinal study in the elderly. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4640385/
Bramberg EB, et al. (2017). Effects of yoga, strength training and advice on back pain: A randomized controlled trial.
Cramer H, et al. (2013). A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for lower back pain.
Gordon R, et al. (2016). A systematic review of the effects of exercise and physical activity on non-specific chronic low back pain.
Patel VB, et al. (2015). Intervention therapies for chronic low back pain: A focused review (efficacy and outcomes).
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