Many people suffer from lower back pain. I’ve had to deal with it myself. It is a consequence of being not only sedentary but also extremely active. Understanding how to alleviate the problem without spending vast amounts of money each year trying to solve it can do wonders to your overall life quality, not to mention your bank balance.
A growing body of research indicates that adding simple muscular stretches into your daily life can reduce pain significantly. This is particularly true if the problem is muscular or to do with posture. Nine times out of ten this is the case.
Bad habits over many years can ingrain chronic pain and it can take a great deal of time and effort for it to be eliminated.
Whether you suffer from spasms, stiffness or aches, here are five easy stretches to reduce your lower back pain.
Hips and buttocks (piriformis opener) stretch — The piriformis runs through the muscle of the buttocks and, if overly tight, can cause lower back pain and even leg pain. To do this stretch, lie on your back while crossing one leg over the other. Gently pull the knee in the direction of your chest until a stretch is felt through the buttocks. This particular stretch occasionally helps reduce some cases of sciatica pain.
Seated spinal twist stretch — Begin this stretch by sitting as tall as you can with both legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and cross your leg over the left thigh and twist to the left. Placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee, twist and look over your right shoulder. Keep your right hand firmly on the floor behind you for posture support. Remember to switch sides and repeat.
Laying knee to chest stretch – Lie on your back with knees bent and both heels on the floor; imagine you are in a bridging position. From here, place both hands behind one knee and bring it towards the chest. What this stretch does is lengthen the buttock muscles as well as helping decompress the lower back by adding some length to its musculature.
Standing spinal extension and flexion stretch — From a standing position reach as high as you can towards the ceiling. Inhaling deeply, begin a spinal curl towards the ground. On your descent empty the gut and exhale the air as you let yourself fold over and hang loose towards the floor. The aim here is to lengthen the body and again decompress the lower back.
Hip opener stretch — From a standing position take a step backwards with one leg and kneel down on your back knee. What you are looking to achieve is a shift of weight to the back hip. This is where you should feel the stretch. When hip flexors get tight through long bouts of sitting down they will often stop the muscles of the buttocks from functioning properly. The buttock muscles play a pivotal role in supporting the lower back muscles and so having them functioning well will contribute to a less inflamed lower back with reduced pain. Make sure you are constantly stretching your hip flexors, particularly if you have a desk job. (The hip flexors are the muscles that primarily assist the hip in flexing the hip joint.)
Before performing these stretches lie on your back and perform 20 diaphragm breaths. Diaphragm breathing has been shown to relax the body and activate our psoas muscle. The psoas muscle controls our ability to sequence hip flexion correctly — this is important if we want our muscles, such as our buttocks, to aid the support of our back. Perform these stretches for three or four rounds of 10-12 seconds, taking three deep breaths each time. Make this a consistent part of your day and your lower back pain should, with any luck, reduce considerably.