Lower back pain is the most frequently reported cause of workplace-related disability, and one of the most common reasons for missed days of at the office. If you are among the 80% of Americans who suffer from dull, throbbing pain, or unpleasant sudden and sharp sensations, it’s worth exploring your options for mitigating these types of musculoskeletal discomfort. Avoiding any physical activity or resting may seem like the most appealing course of action, but one of the best ways to alleviate lower back pain is by stretching the body.
When it comes to stretching, time is of the essence –the longer you have to hold a pose, the more effectual it will be. Regular stretching will not only improve your range of motion and overall mobility, it can also reduce the risk of disability caused by back pain. In particular, core strengthening, aerobic exercise, and stretching exercises may be one of the most effective ways to ease lower back pain, as well as preventing the risk of future discomfort.
Here are five of the most common and effective stretches you can do for lower back pain.
This yoga and Pilates mainstay mimics a child’s movements in the womb, and is excellent for gently stretching the sore muscles of the lower (lumbar) back. Start with your hands and knees on the floor with your hands, shoulders, and knees under hip level. Reach outward in front of you, and slowly sit your hips back toward your heels to feel the full stretch.
Meow or Moo? How about both! For those looking to relieve lower back pain while realigning both spine and pelvis, take cues from your favorite feline or farm animal. It may sound simple, but begin on hands and knees and contract the abdominal muscles while simultaneously and slowly rounding your back. Hold and then return to starting position. By making a moment for the “cat-cow” stretch, you will greatly reduce lower back discomfort.
The spinal twist stretch is another wonderful addition to your physical therapy routine; however, be careful when beginning to do it. The amount that you twist should start out as a very small movement, but over time it will gradually produce myriad benefits. In addition to its ability to increase your range of motion, the spinal twist is also praised in yoga communities for its effectiveness at activating the muscles around the lumbar spine and abdominal core, as well as increasing stability, blood flow, and oxygenation to the affected area.
After suffering an injury or succumbing to the stressors of everyday life, the muscles of the lower back can become contracted, leading to a tight and uncomfortable feeling. There’s a reason the knee-to-chest stretch has become a staple of Pilates classes and PT routines everywhere; it works swimmingly for alleviating contracted lower back tendons. It’s completed
as its name implies; lie on your back and pull your knees toward you, holding behind your kneecaps for stability.
Hip Opener/Lower Back Stretch
Looking to multitask? The hip opener and lower back stretch is a popular stretch among pro athletes – and one that kills two birds with one stone. It simultaneously elongates the muscles of the core, groin, hips and lower back. Simply lay on your back and try to flatten your hips to the ground. Raise your arms in back of your head and feel the stretch all the way through.
You can incorporate the aforementioned exercises into your regular daily routines; however, seeking the guidance of a physical therapist can be immensely helpful on the path to quashing pain.
STAR Spine & Sport specializes in musculoskeletal medicine, and will work with you to diagnose what’s ailing you and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment tailored to your unique needs and active lifestyle. Our staff is made up of board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians, so you know you’ll be in good hands. For more information, or to schedule a consultation, call our office at 303-238-4277