Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Woman sitting on exercise ball

What Are Some Recommended Stretches for Relieving Lower Back Pain?
Lower back pain often happens after sprains and strains occur in the complex lumbar region. These muscles, discs and ligaments surrounding the lower part of your spine take on a lot of stress as time goes by. The key to lessening back pain is to integrate both flexibility stretches that bring immediate relief, with muscle-building stretches that work to prevent backaches in the future.

“Get the Kinks Out” Yoga Stretch
A basic “restful pose” followed by a “cat arch” are gentle ways to loosen the knots in your back. Start by getting to your hands and knees on a mat or thick rug.

Move 1: Ease down from the hands-and-knees on the floor position, to one in which your bottom lowers to rest on your feet; your torso lowers, stretching forward; and your arms extend forward, as if in a dive. Stay in this position for a count of 20, if you can. After slowly sitting up and resting, repeat the move two or three more times.

Move 2: Return to your hands-and-knees position on the mat, in a squared-off position — hands braced on the floor parallel to your shoulders, and knees positioned just below your hips.

Arch you back like a cat as you breathe out, tightening your stomach as you do so. Hold the pose for at least five seconds, then breathe in while rounding your back, again for five seconds. Repeat this sequence for a total of 10 cycles through the arched back, then rounded back, cycle.

“Build the Back” Crossover Stretch
To lengthen a key muscle in your lower back affecting the lumbar region and legs (the piriformis muscle), start by sitting down on a bed or other comfortable surface, with your right leg bent so that your foot rests up against your bottom — so that you are “cross-legged” on side.

Next, cross your left leg up and over the bent right leg, and bend it so that your left knee is facing the ceiling, with your left foot resting against your right thigh. Rest your hand on the floor for stability, and twist your torso in that direction, while stretching your spine. Hold this pose for up to 20 seconds, then reverse the position and repeat the twitch-stretch move in the opposite direction. Repeat the sequence two or three more times.

“Stretch the Core” Physioball Moves
Sitting on a large exercise ball is ideal for the times when your back is hurting too much to lie down on a mat. A physioball is no more difficult to get on or off than a chair, yet provides some great spine stretching, core-building exercise.

Move 1: Sit on the ball with your hands on your hips. “Suck in” your abdominal muscles, and hold this position for about five seconds. Repeat at least 10 times.

Move 2: Remain seated with your hands on your hips. Again, “suck in” your abdominal muscles as in Move 1, but this time raise one knee as if you were “marching” while sitting, and hold your leg in that position for about five seconds. Lower your leg and repeat with your opposite knee. Alternate this move at least 10 times.

If you can, do these stretches just before bed, in order to work out soreness from the day and promote healthy sleep. An application of an ice pack several minutes before stretching may further enhance flexibility and ease pain.

Of course, lower back pain can stem from undiagnosed illnesses and forgotten injury. It’s best to check with a healthcare professional in case additional treatment is needed.