Lower back pain is extremely common, which makes implementing daily lower back stretches a great habit for almost anyone. In fact, lower back pain is characterized as the most common musculoskeletal problem globally. Ranging from mild to severe, and acute to chronic, the lifetime prevalence of lower back pain is estimated at 60% -70% across industrialized countries. One effective treatment that also acts as a prevention protocol to combat lower back pain is lower back stretching.
While there are certainly several alternative treatments, management, and preventative approaches to lower back pain, lower back stretches happen to be the most convenient, non-invasive, and effective, comparatively speaking.
By adding some, if not all of the stretches below, individuals currently living with lower back pain can possibly begin to feel some level of relief.
When Experiencing Lower Back Pain, Do These Lower Back Stretches
1 - Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is a standard introductory yoga pose that also happens to be one of the great stretches for lower back pain. Not only is it gentle in its approach but it can be performed universally by practically anybody due to its simplicity.
Begin by getting on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Next, reach your hands as far as you can out in front of you on the ground whilst dropping your hips towards your heels. Finally, simply drop your neck and chest and execute one final extension for an even greater stretch to complete the stretch.
Upon holding the stretch for 20-30 seconds, you should begin to feel some release in your lower back. Feel free to return to Child’s Pose as many times as you want for nice lower back relief.
2 - The Cat-Cow Pose
Another great introductory yoga pose that is also one of the best stretches for lower back pain is called the Cat-Cow Pose. It requires a similar starting position as Child’s Pose, however, instead of stretching through your arm extension, you’ll be stretching directly through the manipulation of your lumbar spine.
On all fours, begin by rounding your back to the sky. Upon relaxing that position, arch the back and hold. Repeat until you begin to feel relief.
3 - Knee-to-Chest Stretch
While it can be challenging for some people to target lower back relief, the Knee-To-Chest stretch may help. To begin, lay on the back with knees bent and feet flat. Next, bring the knees towards the chest holding them steady by wrapping your arms around them. Once the hands have grabbed the knee(s), pull them close to the chest and hold for 20-30 seconds, feeling the stretch through the lower back.
It’s really that simple. Note that the Knee-To-Chest stretch can be done one leg at a time, or with both legs at once. Whether choosing to stretch one leg or two at a time, this is one of the best stretches for lower back pain.
4 - The Cobra Stretch (a.k.a The Sphinx)
Directly targeting the lower back via a reclining arch stretch, The Cobra, otherwise known as The Sphinx, is a fantastic lower backstretch. It also happens to stretch core musculature and chest fibers, while increasing the flexibility of the spine. Several lower back stretches offer variable benefits outside of pain relief itself. The Cobra stretch happens to be one of them.
Here’s how to perform The Cobra: lay face down on the floor with palms flat on the ground and legs extended behind. Next, bend the elbows while lifting the chest off the ground. Continue to stretch through the chest and shoulders while arching the lower back.
5 - The Spinal Twist
The Spinal Twist is a unique stretch. While it’s widely accepted as a great stretch for lower back pain, it can also place the body in a vulnerable position that can result in injury if not executed properly. It is important to use this stretch carefully and only add to a stretching regimen if there’s confidence in execution, if mobility is a concern consider skipping this one.
The Spinal Twist is highly effective, but again it’s simply a delicate stretch that must be approached cautiously in order to get the most out of it. One benefit of this stretch is that it can be performed both lying down or sitting up. So, get comfortable, get in position, and enjoy the stretch.
6 - The Supine Pigeon Pose (Supine Figure 4 Stretch)
This classic but more complex yoga pose might be difficult for some to execute. Depending on age, flexibility, mobility, and strength, the Supine Pigeon Pose may not be suitable. With that said, there are variations and adaptions that may make it easier to perform.
The Pigeon Pose has gained authority for its ability to target several areas of the body, from the lower back and glutes through to the hips and mid-back. For those struggling with lower back pain who are able to complete the stretch, it might just be that needed touch for relief.
7 - Upright Pigeon Pose (Figure 4 Stretch)
Targeting similar pain points as the Supine Pigeon Pose, the Upright Pigeon Pose requires a similar contortion, however, rather than lying on the ground, sit upright with one knee bent in front. The reason pigeon poses are so effective at targeting lower back pain is that they directly aim to release tight hip flexors; tight hip flexors are a primary risk factor for lower back pain.
There’s a strong correlation between doing more yoga poses and decreasing back pain. In fact, one study has shown that performing regular yoga practices for 8 weeks can reduce chronic lower back pain by nearly 10%.
8 - Dead Hang
While it may sound like a rather simple practice, a Dead Hang is an extremely effective and challenging stretch that promotes decompression of the spine and lower back, releasing built-up tension. Variations of a Dead Hang in a clinical physiotherapeutic setting have been used for years to aid in lower back pain syndrome. In addition, Dead Hangs also help to increase core stability, shoulder mobility, grip strength, and back strength.
The best part is that it is simple to execute. Simply find a pull-up bar, grab the bar with each hand, and allow the body to hang for 45 seconds to one minute. By releasing all the tension throughout the posterior chain, it might almost immediately begin to relieve tension as the spine decompresses.
9 - Core Sit-Ups
While a core exercise might have been unexpected to be on the list of best lower back stretches, research has shown that a weak abdominal wall is directly related to lumbar instability, ultimately leading to chronic lower back pain (CLBP). Prioritizing core stabilization and strength exercises have been shown to reduce CLBP by over 75%.
By engaging core muscles on a regular basis with basic core exercises like sit-ups or crunches, it can directly reduce lower back pain while simultaneously improving spinal stability and core strength.
10 - The Plank
Although not a technical stretch, the final effort to support and prevent back pain is The Plank. Proving just how important core strength and stability are to the prevention of lower back pain. The Plank is another extremely effective and easy-to-execute exercise that individuals across many fitness levels can execute when struggling with lower back pain.
Drop to all fours, extend the legs back and carry the weight of the body onto the forearms. Hold for 10 - 60 seconds and repeat four times. . By contracting the abdominal muscles and stabilizing the lumbar spine, Planks strengthen our back muscles and help us maintain good posture.
To increase the challenge of a Plank set, aim for a longer duration (i.e. time under tension) or increase the amount of Planks in a set. When exploring how to increase stamina, maximizing plank duration is a great effort to add to any workout.
External Factors that Impact Lower Back Pain
While these lower back stretches can be incredibly helpful, it’s important to also consider external contributors to lower back health like nutrition, and supplementation, especially that which can increase nitric oxide levels in the body.
What does nitric oxide do for lower back pain?
Nitric oxide improves circulation and inflammation after an intense workout, relieving any built-up tension or inflammation in the lower back and surrounding areas. It’s also another method to increase stamina. Studies show nitric oxide has the ability to improve endurance while accelerating recovery rates, and increasing oxygen uptake, among other benefits. When aiming to learn more about what nitric oxide does for back support and overall health, be sure to visit other research from our blog articles.
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