Lower Back Stretches - some basic tips
Lower Back Stretches are a great example of how you can manage your own health - both for injury prevention and pain relief.
Stretching is a very important part of our overall health. There are two main ways of stretching - “consciously” and “non-consciously”.
- “Conscious” stretching is where you address a particular muscle or part of your body and perform a specific stretching technique to stretch it.
- “Unconscious” stretching is where you stretch various body parts and muscles through movements involved in your everyday activities and functions.
Both conscious and non-conscious stretching is equally important to the overall equilibrium and health of our bodies and minds. I frequently see with my own clients that our lower backs are often forgotten about when it comes to conscious stretching. Most of us are aware that we have to stretch the muscles of our legs and arms if we are involved in exercise, but many of us don’t stretch our backs.
I am frequently asked how important is it to stretch my back?
The answer, my friend, is that it is very important to stretch your back regardless of whether you are involved in exercise performance or not. Let’s talk in more detail about both conscious and non-conscious Lower Back Stretches.
Lower back - Non-conscious stretching:
Do you ever wonder why young children never need to stretch? The reason for this is because they move in all directions every day. They stretch their arms legs and bodies in a wonderful combination of uninhibited movements which leaves them well stretched and feeling well!
Adults, on the other hand, do not!
Stretching of your lower back has become even more important in recent years as a result of excess sitting in most of our lifestyles. Many people sit all day at work. Then they drive long commutes in and out of work-again sitting. And at the end of their long day they sit on a soft sofa to recover! Or so they think!
When you sit for long periods of time your muscles tighten and mould to this posture. As a result you can end up feeling tight and achy! If you feel these symptoms start stretching your lower back before an injury results.
Conscious stretching is even more important - as a result of our lack of varied movement patterns in our lifestyles. But, before I talk to you about specific lower back stretches I encourage you to play like a child to help the overall health of your back!
Lower back stretches:
These are specific lower back stretches to loosen and release tension in your back. I am going to talk you through a few of the most frequently used stretches that I advise my clients on a daily basis.
- Back Extension stretches: Purpose: - This exercise is good for counteracting all the strain on your back from prolonged sitting and bending activities.
- Stand tall
- Support your lower back with both your hands and all your fingers.
- Arch your back backwards into the support of your hands.
- Hold for two seconds.
- Repeat 5 times. Note: Never move into pain and if it hurts contact a qualified therapist as it may not be suitable for your back.
- Back rotation stretches: Purpose: - This exercise is good for stretching the muscles and ligaments of your lower sides and back.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and feet and knees together.
- Let both knees fall to right as far as you can without pain and while keeping your feet on the floor.
- Slowly return your legs to the start position and repeat the exercise to the left.
- Do five to each side slowly.
Note: - Your lower back will most likely come off the floor - this is ok!
- Hamstring Stretch: Purpose: Not specifically Lower Back Stretches - but these stretches are important as tight hamstrings are a common cause of lower back pain.
- Lie on your back with your legs straight on the floor.
- Bend your right knee towards your chest
- Straighten your right leg as far as you can towards the ceiling-the aim being to have your hip, knee and ankle in a straight line.
- Once you feel the stretch on the back of your leg hold it for 30 seconds.
Repeat this stretch on your left leg. Do three on each side. Note: Never perform a hamstring stretch if it brings on back pain. If it does seek professional advice.
- Lower back flexion stretch: Purpose: - this stretch is good for stretching your lower back and hips.
- Lie on your back, knees bent up and feet flat on floor.
- Feet and knees together.
- Place each hand behind its corresponding knee.
- Gently pull knees into your chest.
- Hold for 3-5 seconds.
- Repeat five times. Note: - If it hurts don’t do it without professional guidance.
Remember that it is never advisable to do too much of anything! Sitting for long periods of time is not good for us. However, I appreciate many of you have to sit at your desks or computers for long periods in order to pay them bills!! If you have a sitting job please do extension exercises described above frequently throughout your day to avoid back pain. If they causes pain or discomfort or your existing back pain continues seek professional help.
Never exercise through back pain - other than that, keep up those Lower Back Stretches.
While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.
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