Six Stretches To Help Alleviate Low Back Pain And Tightness
Letâs admit it, having low back pain is no fun, especially when you wake up in the morning with it knowing that you have a full day at work ahead of you. That is why we believe that every morning you should spend a few minutes stretching out the most important and most engaged muscles in the low back.
Sitting at your desk all day can lead to lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder tightness, and other ergonomic issues. Performing daily stretches can help you loosen your muscles and improve your flexibility, making your body more resilient and better able to handle a full day at your desk.
- Knee to Chest
Use this stretch to align pelvis and stretch lower back and rear end muscles. Lie flat on your back with toes pointed to the sky. Slowly bend your right knee and pull your leg up to you chest. Wrap your arms around your thigh, knee or shin, and gently pull the knee towards your chest. Hold for 20 seconds and slowly extend the leg to starting position. Repeat three times each leg.
- Lying Knee Twist
- Use this movement to stretch the paraspinal muscles and strengthen the abdominal muscles. Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out. Bend the right knee up and cross it over the left side of your body. Hold in a position that allows you to feel a gentle stretch through the back and buttocks muscles for 20 seconds. Tighten your core muscles and rotate back to center. Repeat three times on each side.
Stretching Tips For Tight Hamstrings
Slowly stretching your muscles will help you to improve and maintain hamstring flexibility. This, in turn, leaves your hamstrings less prone to that sudden, dreaded pop.
Before we show you a few easy stretches, well offer a quick pre-stretch safety tip:
As with any stretching programme, or any form of exercise, its important never to force a movement. It might be tempting to push through any resistance but your hamstrings wont thank you for it. Pain and resistance are our bodys way of saying hang on a sec. By ignoring those signals and pushing harder, you run the risk of causing further damage. So the first rule of stretching? Take it easy!
If youre completely new to a hamstring stretch, it can also be easier to start with a little bend in your knee. Go ahead, youre allowed!
Thats safety covered, so its on to the stretches themselves.
Stretches to loosen tight hamstrings include the following.
Increasing Your Low Back Capacity
There is a lot of debate about what low back and trunk stabilization exercises are really doing, however, when it comes to exercise we know that at a minimum we are at least doing two things:
Capacity can be defined as what the lower back can handle. While this term incorporates the capacity of our entire body as a whole, lets simplify it to just a measure of endurance, in this example, the ability to hold a plank for time. Lets say that initially, you can only hold a plank for only 20 seconds before fatiguing out. Then over the next month, you incorporate planks into your health and wellness routine a couple of times a week. By the end of the month, you are now able to hold a plank for over a minute! You have just increased the capacity of your lower back! By holistically increasing the capacity of your lower back, we may be able to fight off those feelings of stiffness as we are trying to increase what our low back can handle! Some of our favorite exercises for increasing low back capacity include loaded carries. This is about as functional as it gets!
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Sitting With Your Spine Curved Forward
When you sit for a long time, the following changes occur in your spine:
- Increased pressure within each spinal segment3
- Reduced strength in the muscles of your upper and lower back3,4
- Decreased nutrient supply to the spinal tissues3
When you sit on the edge of your chair or hunch towards your computer, the strain on your spine is moreand can cause stiffness and pain.
See Identifying Incorrect Posture
A sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate these changes, causing spinal stiffness to develop within an hour of sitting.4
To avoid back stiffness, use an upright sitting posture. Roll your shoulders back with the ears over the shoulders and the upper arms parallel to your torso. While sitting in an office chair try to avoid constant use of the backrest and sit upright to activate your core muscles.
Supine Figure 4 Stretch
If youre suffering from back pain that travels to your legs, and you feel lower back stiffness after sitting, the supine figure 4 stretch might provide some relief.
As it targets deep buttock muscles, you can feel a sense of relief in your lower back stiffness.
Steps to Perform Supine Figure 4 Stretch:
1: To begin with, lie with your knees bent and feet placed right on the floor.
2: Lift your right foot and place the right ankle on your left thigh.
3: Creating the shape of 4 with your legs, open your right knee outward.
4: While holding this position, reach your hands behind your left thigh.
5: Using your hand, lift your left foot and guide it to bring your left knee towards your chest.
6: Hold this position for a few seconds, then release it on the floor then switch sides.
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Why Do Some People Get Lower Back Pain After Exercise
There are myriad reasons why you may feel lower back pain after exercise, for the purpose of this blog we are going to disregard trauma, such as issues like pulled or strained muscles or slipped discs. If you suspect this may be the problem, its vital you seek expert medical help.
If you consistently feel nagging lower back pain after exercise, the likely culprits are:
Performing certain movements with shoddy technique can lead to excessive strain being placed on the lower back. The most common culprits are hinging and squatting patterns. Failing to properly engage your core and glutes in these movements can lead to excessive movement in the lower back, causing the muscles to become overworked and may lead to discomfort.
Movement in the lower back is something of a boogeyman in the fitness industry. Often people will feel that anything other than total spinal rigidity can lead to catastrophe and avoid spinal flexion at all costs. However, this can lead to further problems down the road. Theres nothing wrong with performing movements that involve spinal flexion and extension, as long as they are controlled, progressed sensibly and performed intentionally. After all, your body is designed to move in that way. The issue comes when excessive movement in the lower back comes from a lack of control in the movement, meaning those muscles are exposed to loads and volume they are inadequately prepared for.
Kneeling Side Stretch With Circles
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Sit All Day Try These Desk Stretches To Loosen Your Hips
Weve heard all about sitting being the new smoking. On average, people spend 70 percent of their waking hours sitting, according to research. And among the laundry list of health issues caused by prolonged sitting is tight hips.
Research shows that musculoskeletal complaints are among the most prevalent symptoms in the general population and according to one study, about 15 percent of older adults complain of significant hip pain on most days.
This may not immediately strike you as a huge concern, but having tight hips may actually be the underlying cause of seemingly unrelated chronic pain or discomfort.
According to Danny Johnson, corrective exercise specialist and owner of a personal training and rehabilitation center in London, every joint in the body needs a good muscle balance surrounding it in order to function optimally. Tight hip flexors and tight hamstrings can bring the hips into an anterior pelvic tilt and cause back pain, putting pressure on and compressing the lumbar spine discs, he says. This explains why tight hips and the area around the hips can pull the low spine out of alignment. It will also tighten up the lumbar and can provoke spasms in the back as these muscles will try to constantly stabilize and will fatigue, Johnson says.
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How Do You Loosen Your Back Muscles 5 Stretching Exercises
Evolution has a lot to answer for in regards to the widespread problem of back pain. Going from a four-legged gait to standing upright was done a lot like the giraffes laryngeal nerve: poorly and with no clear oversight.
Between the curve of the spine and the width of the hips, humans are bound to face overly tight back muscles. So, how do you loosen your back muscles to prevent pain? The simple answer is stretching and the longer answer involves a few lifestyle changes to relieve tension and avoid repetitive motions.
Lower back pain is the most prevalent type with nearly 70% of adults between 35 and 55 experiencing it for at least a year. Upper back pain is the next most common and middle back pain is relatively uncommon.
Lifestyle changes will have to wait, for now, lets go over some stretches.
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Tips And Stretches For Lower Back Pain
If you are reading this, you are probably experiencing lower back pain or know someone who is.
Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints in the world. Studies show that up to 70% of adults will experience some kind of back pain during their lives. Worldwide, back pain is the main reason for missed work days and the second most common reason to visit a doctor.
Back pain may be caused by a sprain you suffered at work or from doing chores around the house. Or, the pain may result from an injury or a chronic condition, like arthritis.
If your pain is sudden or severe, you should get checked by your doctor. But, if you are experiencing a nagging pain or discomfort, there are things you can do to relieve the pain. Here are a few things to try.
1. Move. It may be uncomfortable, but one of the best things you can do to deal with lower back pain is to move around. Get on your feet and take a walk. Whether its a brisk walk around the block or a slow stroll, walking can help to strengthen back muscles, which will improve support for the spine.
2. Stretch. Often, lower back pain results from tight muscles. Stretching can increase flexibility and loosen muscles. Yoga is excellent to keep the body limber. Stretching exercises may also help.
3. Exercise. Beyond stretching, you should exercise to strengthen your core, which provides important support for your back. Pilates and tai chi are useful for strengthening the core.
Identify The Triggers Of Low Back Tightness & Slowly Re
More often than not, its the small things that add up that are contributing to your on-going low back issue. Before you start doing anything and everything youve heard that can help with low back pain, examine your life, and try to identify the triggers. Does your back always feel tight after a certain activity, movement, or event? If so, then we can identify that as a trigger to our back pain. Sometimes you may be able to identify a ton of triggers, and other times it may not seem that there is a trigger at all that is okay and very normal! If you can identify any consistent triggers, the next step would be to slowly re-integrate them into your day to day life.
An example of a trigger could be bending over to pick things off the ground. Say initially when your back hurt, it was sensitive to bending over lumbar flexion. So initially, the correct movement strategy to adopt would be to avoid excessive bending over as your body is telling you that its sensitive to that! This strategy might mean kneeling on the ground instead of stooping over to pick objects off the ground. Or it may mean temporarily asking for assistance from others to pick up bulky objects off the ground.
However, once our back becomes less sensitive to that movement, we must start working on re-integrating the old, painful trigger into our day to day activities.
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Stretches For The Middle Back
Back pain, especially short-term pain, is one of the most common medical complaints in the United States. A variety of lifestyle factors, medical conditions, and injuries can lead to pain in the middle back.
Symptoms of mid back pain can include:
- short, sharp pains
- muscle tightness or stiffness
- a reduced range of motion
is here to help you releive your back pain. Visit one of our DFW clinics today to see a therapist and develop a personalised therapy solution for your pain or injury.
The following four stretches are easy to do at home or in the office, and they can help relieve mid back pain, loosen tight muscles, and improve mobility.
Low Back Tightness: Bent Over Cat Cow
Start with your hips against the wall. Make sure your feet are about shoulder width apart. Bend over and place your elbow on your knees. Starting with your back flat, arch it downwards, then curve it upwards in a controlled, slow motion. Imagine making the shape of a cat arching its back, and then moving into the shape of a cow with a hump in the lower back. Make sure to breathe out at the end range of each motion.
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Why Hip Mobility Matters
When I began my career as a physical therapist, 20 plus years ago, I treated a steady stream of patients suffering from a wide range of issues from low back aches to knee pain, to being unable to sit down and tie their shoes. Quite a lot of them had one thing in commonthey werent able to move their hips well.
Improving their hip mobility led to decreasing the strain on their low backs and knees, making their walking, stair climbing, and running gait more efficient, and creating more ease in their daily activities such as getting in/out of car, on/off the floor, and even being able to tolerate long drives in their cars.
Since youre here, I dont have to guess that youre bothered by your tight hips for one reason or another. Tight hips have probably gotten in the way of your daily activities or exercise goals countless times.
And thats really why hip mobility is so importantbecause when its missing, your options become a lot more limited.
The hips are connected to every part of the body, and when theyre not moving well, theres a chain reaction of restriction. You cant squat easily, your hamstrings start to feel tight, maybe you compensate with certain movements when you walk which causes your back to start tightening upand so on and so forth.
Our goal at GMB is to help you feel free in your bodyfree to do the things that are important to you, and free from pain and restrictions.
And thats just not possible if tight hips are getting in your way.
Knee To Chest Stretch
Another great stretch to perform for lower back pain is the knee to chest stretch. This stretch helps relax your thighs, glutes, and hips while promoting overall relaxation. Heres how you perform this stretch:
- Lie on your back with both of your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor
- Bend your right knee or extend it straight on the floor
- Draw your left knee into your chest, clasping your hands behind your thigh
- Lengthen your spine and avoid lifting your hips
- Breathe deeply to release tension and hold this pose for one minute
Afterward, repeat with the other leg. If you need extra padding, you can place a pillow under your head.
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Stretch #: Inner Thigh Stretch
Stretching the groin and inner thighs, muscles which are connected to the pelvis, can help tremendously with hip mobility and reducing back pain. This stretch releases the adductors , which are often called upon when glutes, core and/or hip muscles are weak. This can leave them tight and shortened, which prevents hip movement, explains Kalika.
How to: Sitting down on the floor, open your legs wide apart. Flex your feet and engage your quads. If you cannot sit upright in this position, sit on a pillow or on a yoga block. For a deeper stretch, lean forward.
Causes Of A Tight Lower Back
Sports injuries, overtraining, and accidents can make your back feel tight. Even day-to-day tasks such as sitting can cause tightness.
You also experience tightness in the lower back to compensate for a problem in another part of the body. Strong hamstrings and gluteal muscles can also contribute to this tightness.
Having poor posture or improper shape when lifting weights or having weak core muscles may also play a role.
Many other factors may lead to or complicate a tight lower back. These include the following sprains and strains, prolonged sitting times, ruptured disks, and obesity.
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