myles golden
July 28, 2014
Stretches for a Healthy Lower Back

Stretches for a Healthy Lower Back

Practice these simple and safe stretches on a consistent basis to help prevent and relieve lower back discomfort.  A few key points to remember before you start:

  • Keep your sacrum and your shoulder blades on the earth at all times.
  • Do not round your back.
  • Prop up your head if you are not able to keep the back of your neck long.
  • Breathe deeply and naturally.  Deep breaths will open up the spine and help you to release tension.
  • Never force or push.  These postures are meant to be somewhat passive.  The more you relax, the more beneficial this will be.

Deep Belly Breathing
Benefit: Create space in the spine, relax back muscles and release tension

  • Begin lying on your back with your knees bent and the feet hips width apart.
  • Place both hands on the lower belly.
  • Breathe naturally through the nose.
  • The inhale brings space – feel the belly rise.
  • The exhale relaxes you and teaches you to let go of tension – feel the belly fall.
  • Take at least 10 breaths here to establish a steady rhythm.

Knee-to-Chest Pose
Benefit: Lengthen the lower back while stretching the hip and hamstring

  • Draw one knee into the chest, interlacing your hands around the shin.  If that causes the head to tilt back, clasp around the back of the thigh instead so that your neck is long and relaxed.
  • Inhale and extend out through the heel of the straight leg.
  • Exhale and draw the bent knee gently toward the chest
  • Repeat 8-10 deep breaths through the nose

Reclined Spinal Twist
Benefit: Lengthen and stretch the low back muscles.

  • Take the bent knee with the opposite hand across the body, keeping both shoulders on the earth.
  • You do not need to get the knee all the way to the ground.  Keep it in line with your top hip.
  • Lengthen your top hip away from you to create length in your waistline.
  • Stretch out through the extended arm keeping the shoulder blade gently pressing in the earth.
  • Gaze over the extended arm
  • Take 8-10 deep breaths through the nose.

Extended Leg Pose
Benefit: Lengthen the lower back and open the hamstrings.

  • Interlace your hands behind the thigh and extend the leg to the sky.  The leg does not have to be perfectly straight.  Keep your back relaxed and chin slightly tucked.  If there is a bend in the knee don’t worry.   A long relaxed spine is a necessary to benefit from this posture.  The leg will eventually straighten with practice and repetition.
  • Extend out through the heel that is on the earth.
  • Balance these two actions for the leg in the air:
  • Press the thigh into the hands
  • Pull the leg towards you
  • Make sure to draw the hip of the leg that is in the air away from you.  This will maintain length in the lumbar spine while you stretch your hamstrings.
  • Take 8-10 deep breaths through the nose.

Reclined Pigeon
Benefit: Release the deep rotator muscles in the hip and align the pelvis

  • Cross the ankle over the opposite thigh above the knee.  Reach through the legs with one hand and interlace around the back of the thigh.
  • If your head tilts back, loosen your grip on the thigh until the neck is long.  A pillow is especially nice in this pose.
  • Gently flex both feet
  • Pull the thigh towards you as you draw the top knee away from you.
  • Keep your hips evenly pressing into the ground and lengthening away from you.
  • Take 8-10 deep breaths through the nose.

Side Reclined Pigeon
Benefit: Open the IT band and TFL while stretching the lower back muscles

  • From reclined pigeon, let the bottom foot come to the earth.
  • Reach up for the top ankle with the opposite hand.
  • Let the legs fall over so that the top foot is flat on the earth and the knee is straight up.
  • Take 8-10 deep breaths through the nose

Try our Ease Low Back Pain video for more guidance through these and a few more great postures for a healthy back.

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