If you suffer from lower back pain, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most expensive and universal ailments affecting adults, with treatment costs in the US estimated to be up to $100 billion. While misery might enjoy company, this thought doesn’t help much in the middle of a back spasm. What might actually help are three quick stretches that you can do anywhere that you have a little floor space.
What You Need to Know About Stretching Before Stretching
- Start slowly with just a few repetitions until you build strength. If you feel really stiff, consider warming up with a short, 5-minute walk before stretching.
- Hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds with 30 seconds being optimal. Try to maintain regular breathing throughout.
- Pay attention to sharp pain or tingling in the arms and legs. Stop any exercise if it makes your pain level worse, and be sure to let your doctor know about the stretch or the position which prompted the pain.
For these stretches, you’ll be lying on your back, so you’ll want to have a space that can accommodate your height with a couple of feet on each side. A yoga mat would make the floor a little more comfortable, and you might find having a towel or an old scarf or necktie helpful to deepen your hamstring stretch (the last stretch). Let’s do it!
- Knee to Chest Stretch – Lie on your back, noticing the alignment of your spine against the floor. Draw one knee into the chest and hold it firmly there with your hands while tightening your tummy as if you’re pushing your spine against the floor. Hold this stretch for at least 15 seconds and work up to 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat, starting with 3 repetitions.
- Piriformis Stretch – Lie on your back. Draw one knee toward the chest, allowing the straightened leg to gently bend as you move the bent knee across the body and toward the floor. Try to keep both shoulders on the floor. You should feel a deep stretch in the side, hip, and buttock. Breathe deeply and hold for at least 15-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Try to complete at least 3 sets.
- Hamstring Stretch – Lie on your back with a towel or a tie nearby. Bend both knees and plant your feet on the floor, then straighten one leg toward the ceiling. Place the towel or tie over your foot’s arch and pull it gently toward you as you resist with your foot, holding for 15-30 seconds. If you don’t have a towel or tie, you can use your hands to gently draw the straightened leg toward your chest. You should feel a stretch in the hamstring located in the back of your thigh. Repeat on the other side, completing 3 sets.
Lower back pain is no fun, but stretching can be one way to help. Doctorpedia recommends checking with your physician for other helpful ideas about treatments that might work for you!
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (n.d.). Spine conditioning program. OrthoInfo from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Retrieved from https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/globalassets/pdfs/2017-rehab_spine.pdf
- American Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). Back in shape & pain free. American Chiropractic Association. Retrieved from http://www.acatoday.org/Portals/60/Docs/Patients/Patient%20Fact%20Sheets/HealthyLiving_BackPainExercise.pdf
- Dreisinger, T.E. (2014). Exercise in the management of chronic back pain. The Ochsner Journal, 14(1), 101-107. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3963038/
Nan Kuhlman is an author, freelance writer, and part-time university professor based in Los Angeles, CA. She currently works full-time as a technical writer in Los Angeles and part-time as an online adjunct writing instructor. She has written for scholarly publications like the University of California, Davis Writing on the Edge and Chapman University’s Anastamos Interdisciplinary Journal, among others.
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