Low back pain (also called lumbago) is the most common type of discomfort associated with spinal trauma. Known as the lumbar region, it usually affects the first five vertebrae (L1-L5), an area of the spine that supports most of the upper body’s weight. (1)
Pain in the lower back is often a result of injuries such as sprains, sudden movements, overuse, poor lifting technique, etc. But it can also be caused by age, obesity, and certain diseases or medical conditions such as a ruptured or herniated disc, sciatica, arthritis, kidney infections, or infections of the spine. (2)
There are two types of low back pain – acute back pain – lasting a few days to a few weeks, or chronic back pain – lasting longer than three months.
Stretches For Back Pain
Stretching can help in both preventing and relieving back pain. Research has shown that a mix of strength and aerobic exercises, along with stretching two to three times a week can help prevent and alleviate low back pain. (3)
Here are 5 of the best stretches to ease lower back pain:
- Child’s pose: Primarily a Yoga position, the Child’s Pose helps lengthen and stretch the spine. Start on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lower your torso between your knees while extending your arms in front of your torso, palms facing down. Relax your shoulders toward the ground and hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds or even longer if comfortable.
- Figure 4 stretch: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground in front of you. Rest your right ankle on your left knee. This creates a number “4” with your legs. Clasp your hands around the back of your left thigh and gently pull it toward you, keeping your head and shoulders on the floor. Hold for 30 seconds before repeating on the opposite leg.
- Knees to chest stretch: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Clasp your hands across your shins and gently pull both knees toward your chest. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat if desired.
- Bridge pose: Lie on your back, bend your knees, and set both feet on the floor, making sure your feet are hip-width apart. Slowly lift your hips without overextending or causing pain in your spine, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if necessary.
- Pelvic tilt: Builds strength in your abdominal muscles, which can help alleviate pain in your lower back. It also has a beneficial effect on your glutes and hamstrings. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place both feet on the floor as you have been doing. Engage your stomach muscles as you flatten your back against the floor, holding the position for up to 10 seconds. Repeat up to 3 sets for up to 5 repetitions.
Before engaging in any stretching regimen, always warm/loosen-up, or take a hot shower. This can help prevent additional injury or strain. (4) Further stretches for low back pain can be found in this easy to follow, educational video.