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What stretch can I do to loosen up my lower back?

Loosening up the lower back can sometimes seem almost impossible. Sometimes though, to stretch the lower back, you have to stretch other muscles that you wouldn’t think are necessarily associate with it, such as the hip flexors. The hip flexors perform their namesake, but it’s where they originate or attach that matters. The psoas originates from the lumbar spine, and attaches onto the thigh. When you sit for extended periods of time, this muscle will shorten and remain this way. Chronic shortening of this muscle can cause low back pain because of its attachment with the spine. To stretch this muscle stand in a staggered stance. The foot of the side you want to stretch should be behind and rotated slightly inward. Keeping your hands on your hips. push your pelvis forward and  feel for a stretch at the top of your thigh. Hold this for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.

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Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Shift over onto your right buttock, bend your knees, and swing your legs to the left. Lay your feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the right arch.

Inhale and lift through the top of the sternum to lengthen the front torso. Then exhale and twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or very close to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor to keep the lower back long. Soften the belly.

Tuck your left hand under your right knee and bring your right hand to the floor just beside your right buttock. Pull your left shoulder back slightly, pressing your shoulder blades firmly against your back even as you continue to twist the chest to the right.

You can turn your head in one of two directions: continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at your feet.

With every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, using the push of the fingers on the floor to help; with every exhalation twist a little more. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.

Brian Yee
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Pelvic tilts: Laying on your back with knees bent - rock your pelvis back - flattening your back against the bed and return to neutral, and if it doesn’t bother you progress to arching your back a small amount. Oscillate back and forth.

 

Knee to chest: Bring one knee up to your chest, stretching your hip and your back. You can progress to both knees to your chest.

 

Trunk rotation: Laying on your back with knees bent and together slowly let you knees go to one side - allowing your trunk to rotate. Switch to the other side. If that does not bother you, you can progress to have one leg straight and let the other knee hook over it - allowing the spine to rotate more. There should be a slow stretch in your spine.

 

Cat / Camels: On your hand and knees - you can arch your low back up and down. Focus on a slow stretch trying to move from your lower back and pelvis. Many times people arch their backs but move mostly from the mid-back or thoracic spine, which does not stretch the lower back as well.

 

Prayer stretch: On your hand and knees - sit your bottom down to your heels and reach out along the ground with your arms to stretch your lower back. Take your arms and trunk side to side to feel more of a stretch along your sides of your back as well.

 

Stretching should not increase your back pain or other symptoms you are experiencing. Please recognize as well that stretching, in certain cases, may be detrimental to your condition. Please consult with a qualified health practitioner, such as a Physical Therapist, to determine the proper stretching progressions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.