If you lead a generally sedentary lifestyle, many hours of sitting may have caused your hip and/or hamstring muscles to become tight or short. Alternatively, participating in running or jumping activities can tighten your hips and/or hamstrings and can place stress on your low back. In either case, the added tightness in your hips, legs and low back can lead to back pain. A few minutes of yoga-inspired stretching will go a long way toward alleviating your pain and preventing future flare-ups. The following stretches are a great way to start.
- Lying Hamstring Stretch
Lie flat on your back on a comfortable surface with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your right knee into your chest, leaving your left foot firmly planted on the floor. Loop a yoga strap, towel, or band around the bottom of your right foot. Extend your right leg as straight as possible and use the strap to gently guide your leg higher in the air. Hold for a count of ten or more and repeat two to three times. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Knee Twists
Lie flat on your back, extend your arms out to the sides in a “T”. Then, bend your knees and bring both of your legs toward your chest and drop both of your legs to your right side. Try to keep your upper back in contact with the floor while you drop your knees towards the floor. Hold this stretch for a count of ten, release it, then repeat it two or three more times. Make sure to complete the same number of repetitions on each side.
- Lower Back Sphinx Bends
Lie on your stomach and bring your arms alongside your body. Rest on your forearms next to your torso, palms pressing down beneath your shoulder. Then, push up, raising the crown of your head as high as you can while keeping your hips in contact with the floor. Keep your core contracted while doing this. Hold the stretch for a 10-count and relax, then repeat the stretch two or three more times. If you are unable to hold the stretch for a full 10-count, do a lower count but repeat that count more times.
- Cat and Dog
Come to table-top position on all fours, your palms are beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. On your inhale, reach your chin and your tailbone toward the ceiling allowing your low back to arch. On your exhale, pull your abdominals in, tuck your chin to your chest, and round your back. Repeat this cycle ten times.
- Bent-Leg Lying Hip Stretch
Lie flat on your back and rest your left ankle on your right knee. Reach your hands on either side of your right leg and clasp them behind your right knee. Pull your right leg toward you while keeping your left ankle on your right knee. For a deeper stretch you can use your arms to pull your right leg toward you while you use your right leg muscles to push your leg away from you. Hold this stretch for three or four counts of ten, then repeat on the other side.
Whether you are sedentary or active, you can stretch at any time, including while you are lying in bed or just watching television at night. Even doing a little bit of stretching, is significantly better than not stretching at all.
Please contact us for more ideas on how you can use yoga-inspired stretches and other techniques to ease your low back pain.