Low back pain has many causes and is influenced by many different factors. Pain and stiffness can be caused by our posture, overuse, improper bending and lifting, and our activities; whether you are an office worker or professional athlete. Low back pain can be debilitating and most Americans will experience an episode of low back pain in their lifetime. Preventing low back pain involves maintaining good posture, mobility, flexibility, strength, and stability. Flexibility and mobility are one of the easiest areas to target and incorporate into your life. Flexibility refers to how tight a muscle or tendon is and mobility refers to how a joint moves. Here are 5 stretches you can incorporate into your life to help prevent low back pain. 

Hints for successful stretching

Before we discuss the specific stretches there are a few things to note about stretching. Firstly, stretching should never be painful. You should aim for a moderate stretch or pull through the muscle. You should feel a generalized stretch without excessive strain through any one area. Lastly, avoid bending or straining through the back.

5 Stretches For Low Back Pain

Stretch 1 –Seated Hamstring Stretch

Tight Hamstring muscles are a contributor to low back pain. The hamstrings are three muscles that run from the hip down to the back of the knee. When these muscles are tight they put increased pressure on the lumbar spine. To stretch the hamstrings start by sitting at the edge of a chair. Keep one leg bent and straighten the other knee so that your heel rests on the floor. Keep your back straight and bend forward through your hips until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold this for 30 seconds.

Stretch 2 – Seated Figure 4 Stretch

The piriformis is another muscle that is often tight in cases of low back pain. When the piriformis muscle is tight it can also put pressure on the sciatic nerve which can cause pain to radiate down the back of the leg. To stretch the piriformis muscle start by sitting at the edge of a chair. Then cross one leg over the other so that your ankle rests right above your knee. Keeping the back straight, bend forward through your hips until you feel stretch. Keep your head and chest up. Hold for 30 seconds.

Stretch 3 – Hooklying Lumbar Rotation

The purpose of this stretch is to relax the muscles of the back, reduce pain, and improve rotation in the low back. This stretch should feel gentle. Start by laying on your back with both knees bent. Then gently bring both knees to one side until you feel stretch, pause 10 seconds, then gently bring the knees to the other side and hold 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

4 – Supine Knee to Chest Stretch 

The supine knee to chest stretch is another pain relieving stretch which stretches the muscles in the back of the hip and low back. To perform this stretch begin by laying on your back with both knees straight. Reach for one leg and with your knee bent pull the knee towards your chest until you feel stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. 

Stretch 5 – Angry Cat Stretch 

This is an excellent stretch for mobility in the thoracic and lumbar spine. To perform this stretch start on your hands and knees. Gently round your back upwards towards the ceiling like a cat arching its back. Pause 2-3 seconds and return to start. Repeat 10 times.

Conclusion

By performing these simple stretches you can help prevent low back pain from occurring. If you are having low back pain, the physical therapists at Life’s Work Physical Therapy are experts in diagnosing and treating low back pain. No one should have to live with pain and prevention can go a long way in ensuring you are able to continue to do the activities you enjoy.