Low back pain will affect 60% of the population at some point in their lives. It is one of the most common back pain types, probably due to our biped rather than quadruped lifestyle.
In approximately between 5 and 10% of people with low back pain, it becomes chronic, causing chronic disability, with serious impacts on the ability to move and make a normal effort for people with this condition. Unfortunately, in more than 80% of cases, low back pain has no attributable cause.
Luckily, regular exercise, especially that aimed at improving the lower back’s health, is a good remedy for this type of back pain, being able to prevent and alleviate it in most cases of lumbar ailments of unknown cause.
9 Lumbar Stretches for Good Back Health
This article will discuss some of the simplest and most effective lumbar stretches that you can do from home. Much of them originate from yoga, the Indian health practice based on flexibility, relaxation, breathing, and meditation. Yoga practice is related to better levels of physical health in general.
Read also: Different Types of Zumba and Their Benefits
If you need visual help, at the end of the article, we will leave a video where some of the stretches that we discuss in this article are explained. In the article itself, we will also leave the English name for stretching so that you will be able to find more support material to start practicing these simple stretches.
The knee to chest stretch is pretty simple. It requires that we start from a comfortable position, horizontal, and face up. We bend both knees keeping our feet on the ground from this position, always looking for a comfortable position.
From this position, we will raise one of the two legs while keeping the knee flexed. We will take the thigh just below the knees, with one or both hands, to stretch it towards our chest. Depending on our flexibility level, we will go more or less far, even being able to make contact between the chest and the knee.
We keep the knee as close to the chest as possible, after which we wait for 10-15 seconds before gently letting it go. We repeat the process on both sides.
Double Knee Stretch to Chest
This stretch starts from the same starting position as the simple knee-to-chest stretch. The only difference is that instead of grasping one of the two knees, we grasp the thigh below both legs’ knees.
Maintaining this posture for about 20 seconds will stretch our lower back, alleviating mild low back pain that we may present.
Child’s Posture/Prayer Posture
The child’s posture, also known as the prayer posture (child/prayer stretch), is a great stretch for both the lower back and the upper part of it, relieving the pain that we may have in the shoulders.
Sitting on our legs in the Japanese style, we slowly raise both arms above our heads. We will be bending our backs forward until our hands reach the ground, as far away from us as possible without hurting ourselves. The sensation is to stretch the arms as much as possible, keeping the head low and relaxed, with the chin close to the chest.
We repeat this stretch as many times as necessary to relieve our back pain. It is a straightforward and low-intensity exercise that can serve as a warm-up, cool-down, or exercise any part of our daily routine.
Our buttocks’ condition is also involved in back pain, so stretching the piriformis muscle (in English, piriformis), which is quite hidden inside the buttock, can greatly relieve lower back pain.
To perform this stretch, we must start by doing the previously mentioned knee-to-chest stretch, but with a difference. When our knee has risen as far as possible towards our abdomen, we will also take the ankle of the leg flexed from the front, with the hand opposite the raised leg. If we raise the right leg, we will take our elevated ankle (in front) with the left hand.
Once caught, we will stretch the ankle slightly towards our head to approach our abdomen, using both hands (one on the thigh and one on the ankle). We will notice how our gluteus stretches, and if we keep our back straight, it will also stretch, producing relief.
Seated Lumbar Twist
The seated lumbar twist (in English, seated spinal twist) allows us to release tension from the back very easily. We place ourselves on the floor in a sitting position to perform this stretch, with our legs bent in front of us. Then we will stretch one of them, letting it rest on the floor completely straight, while the other stays up flexed.
The foot of the bent leg should be placed outside the thigh of the leg horizontally. We rest the arm of the bent leg on the ground behind us for adequate support. The arm opposite the bent leg will rest on the outside of this leg, with the hand near the ankle.
Once we have assumed this posture, we will open our chest, pushing the bent leg while turning our trunk slightly opposite the push. The result of this stretch is a stronger and more elastic back, which will prevent lower back pain. We must keep our back and neck upright doing this stretch.
This exercise is ideal for relieving back pain. We place ourselves lying down, in a position similar to the one we adopt when we will perform the knee-to-chest stretch. The name of this exercise (pelvic tilt) perfectly describes what we will do next.
The exercise’s objective is, through the pelvic movement (we move the pelvis upwards) while keeping the upper back static against the ground, to reduce the space that remains between the natural curve of the back and the ground. Very simple to perform and very effective in relieving mild lower back pain.
The posture or cat stretch can also be started by sitting in the Japanese style. We will have to get “on all fours,” or rather, leaning on our hands, which will be placed at the height of our shoulders while we rest on our shins.
From this position similar to that of babies’ crawling, we will push our back up, arching it like cats do when they get upset. We will lower our back to its normal position, and we repeat it as many times as we see fit. It is advisable to accompany these movements with the breath, exhaling when we go up and inhaling when lowering the back.
Cow and Cat Stretch
This stretch is a variant of the cat stretch. The only difference is that instead of returning to a neutral position after arching our back, we will continue to lower it until it makes a pronounced concave curve, inverse to that of the cat stretch, which is convex.
It is very important that during the cow (when we lower our back) in this stretch, we raise our head so that it is upright as if we were being pulled from the crown with a thread from above.
The lumbar extension (also known in English as prone press-up) is a very effective stretch for preventing back pain, but especially when it comes to relieving low back pain.
Also read: 8 Different Types of Meditation and their Benefits
As with the cow stretch, we look for a concave back curvature (that is, the movement goes from our back to our navel). The difference with the cow stretch is that the legs, in this case, are kept stretched horizontally behind us.
To perform this stretch, we will place ourselves on the floor face down, leaning on our hands as if we were going to perform a typical chest flexion. Instead of lifting our whole body, as we would in the case of the push-up, we seek to lift our trunk and head as much as possible, while keeping our hips glued to the ground.
This stretch is very effective, but it is not recommended for people with certain hip or spinal conditions. First of all, be careful, listen to your body, and if you have doubts about whether you can perform these stretches, consult a professional.
Adapted and translated by The Cop Cart Staff