Home stretches for the back can be a wonderful way to relieve back pain, improve posture, and care for the spine. Certain stretches, if done properly and consistently, can even have long-term health benefits if combined with proper exercise and a healthy diet. While these stretches may be helpful, always remember to consult a professional to determine which ones are best for you. Here are some of the most beneficial home stretches you can try for your lower back:
- Cat-Cow Stretch
The cat cow stretch is one of the most popular yoga moves out there, and for good reason. This is a relaxing yoga pose that helps you ease the tension and strain in your lower back. It soothes the core muscles as well, improving your flexibility and strength.
Get into this position by getting on the ground in a crawling position. Your knees should be hip-width apart. You should start with your back even and flat, not arched or sunken in. Once you have that foundation down, arch your back and lower your head until your chin is touching your chest. Hold that position for about 10 seconds, return to your foundation, then raise your head while curving your back towards the ground. Hold each position for the same amount of time and repeat.
- Back Flex Stretch
This is one of the best ways to experience comfort and flexibility in the back. Lay down on your back and pull both knees into your chest. While doing this, bring your head forward. In this form, you should be able to feel your muscles expand and flex to give your back a nice good stretch.
- Child’s Pose
The child’s pose is another great yoga pose for beginners with back pain. The child’s pose targets the muscles in the lower back especially, since they are usually contracted and in pain. First, you should start in the same tabletop position from the cat-cow stretch covered earlier. This position is referred to as tabletop because your back should be straight and parallel to the ground, like a normal table is.
Your knees need to be lined up with your hips. Put both arms out in front of you with your palms pressing against the ground. Slowly begin to sit back until your bottom is touching your feet. Most people aren’t able to fully achieve this form right away, especially if they aren’t flexible or have never done yoga before. In that case, just use a pillow for comfort and just stretch enough to where you can rest your head on your arms and relax.
- Pelvic Tilt
This is a simple but engaging pose that encourages the core and back muscles to work together to create a nice workout. It can be pretty easy to feel like you can’t even move your pelvic area due to the amount of pain your back is in.
You can perform a pelvic tilt by lying flat on your back. Use a yoga mat or some type of non-slip surface. Once you are on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet flat against the floor. Your lower back should remain relaxed and flat, but not so flat that you’re forcing it to be flat. The back should still hold its natural curve, even when you are lying down.
Once you’re in this position, it is time to activate your core muscles. Flatten the lower part of your back against the ground. Do this by raising and lowering your pelvis repeatedly for about 30 seconds. Once you start to feel the burn in your core, you have the option to either continue for the benefit of the workout or relax to ease your muscles. Beginners should take it slow to avoid burning themselves out.
As mentioned above, lower back pain is a very common problem that can be relieved with consistent exercise and stretching. It is best to aim for at least 15 minutes of stretching a day. Along with those two things, remember to keep a good posture and practice proper ergonomics to ensure that you aren’t causing unnecessary damage to your spine.