Top 6 Stretches for Lower Back Pain
The low back, responsible for structural support, movement, and protection of other delicate tissues, is susceptible to physical discomfort ranging from mild to disabling. Despite not being categorized as a disease, lower back pain is a common health problem across the globe. The complication is also ranked as a major cause of disability, affecting not only performance of work but also the overall well-being of the sufferer.
Some interesting facts to note about LBP include:
- Approximately 10% of the world’s population suffer LBP
- Back Pain affects people of all ages, right from children to the elderly
- According to the WHO metrics, low back pain is among the top ten injuries that account for the highest number of Disability-Adjusted Lifestyle Years (DALYs) worldwide
- Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missing work
- Back problems are more common in women than men
Types of lower back pain
There are many ways of categorizing LBP. The most common ones include:
|Non-specific Muscular Lower Back Pain||Arises from a muscular strain from activities such as lifting or stretching that add stress to the lower back.|
|Muscle Spasms LBP||Occurs when the lower back muscles involuntarily contract and is less common than Non-specific Muscular LBP|
|Radicular Low Back Pain||Caused by two factors, including:
Another way of categorizing lower back pain is based on the types of pain, which include acute, chronic, or neuropathic pain.
Symptoms of lower back pain
- Pain in the lumbosacral area: Pain is experienced in the lower back that can be described as dull and aching. It is the primary symptom of LBP.
- Pain that worsens with activity: Activities that put pressure on the disk such as prolonged sitting or sleeping in straining positions can aggravate low back pain.
- Pain that is dependent on the position that one takes: Symptoms of LBP can change with shifting positions. For example, some sitting positions may be more comfortable than others depending on the source of pain.
- Sharp, stinging, tingling, and numbing sensations that travel to the buttocks, legs, and feet: The pain may radiate to other parts of the body such as the legs or feet.
Causes of lower back pain
The lumbosacral area of the body has a structure that comprises discs, bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Any injury to these components can result in low back pain. The most common causes of LBP include:
Strains and sprains
A strain occurs when a muscle or stretched too far, thus encountering damage. On the other hand, sprains arise from tearing of the ligaments responsible for connecting bones together. Strains or sprains can either occur suddenly or happen gradually.
They arise from: Lifting heavy objects, poor postures, sports injuries, and much more.
There are a plethora of structural issues that can lead to LBP. They include; ruptured or bulging disks, sciatica, arthritis, osteoporosis, and abnormal curvature of the spine.
Movement and posture
Everyday movement activities and postures can result in lower back pain. For example, stretching the neck forward while sitting in front of the computer for long hours can cause a muscle strain in the lumbosacral region.
Various medical conditions associated with lower back pain include:
- Cancer of the spine
- Sleep disorders
- Cauda equina syndrome
- Infection of the spine
Stretches for lower back pain
Stretches flex the spine, thus offloading pressure, which in turn relieves the symptoms of lower back pain. 6 stretches suggested by White Pine Health Physiotherapy that eases lower back pain include:
This type of stretch feels great in most instances and makes a great way to restore flexibility on the lower pack. To perform the exercise:
- Lie on your back
- Bend your knees and ensure your feet are flat on the floor
- Keep the other feet flat on the floor and bring one knee to your chest. Do this lower back pressed on the floor
- Relax while lowering the knee to its initial position
- Repeat with the other leg
The cat-cow stretch involves moving the spine from a rounded to an arched position. To perform the exercise:
- With your hands and knees on the floor, take a neutral spine position with your back flat
- To do the cow part of the stretch, inhale as you arch your back and lift your head
- As you exhale, round your spine towards the ceiling while pulling your abs towards your spine. Simultaneously tuck your tailbone and chin towards your chest, (The cat part)
- Flow back and forth from cat to cow
- Repeat for 1 to 3 minutes and come back to neutral spine position
Kneeling lunge stretch
The kneeling lunge stretch act on the hip flexor muscles attached to the pelvis.
- Go down on both knees
- With one knee on the floor, bend the other knee 90 degrees in front of you with your foot flat
- Place both hands on top of the thighs.
- Gently lean the body forward until you feel a stretch on the other leg
- Hold the stretch position for 30-45 seconds and repeat the same process for the other foot
The sphinx pose is excellent at toning the spine and stimulating the sacral lumbar arch. To perform it:
- Lie on your stomach with legs side by side
- Get your elbows underneath your shoulders with your hands extended in front
- While pressing your pelvis on the floor, gently engage your lower back and thighs as you simultaneously lift your head and chest
- While gazing straight ahead or closing your eyes, stay active in the above position as your breath deeply
- Maintain to pose for 1-3 minutes
The piriformis stretch runs from the spin to the thigh bone. It is one of the best ways to relieve sciatica, which as a structural problem associated with lower backpain. To perform it:
- Lie on your back
- Ensure that your feet are flat on the floor.
- Bend your knees
- Pull the right knee up to the chest.
- Grasp the right knee with the left hand and pull it towards your shoulder
- Hold the stretch between 5-30 seconds depending on your stamina
- Repeat for the other leg
Seated spinal twist stretch
To perform the stretch:
- Sit upright with your legs extended in front of you
- Let your hands rest on your thighs
- Bend your right knee, cross the right leg over the left one, and place your right foot next to the left thigh
- Lift your arms with the palms facing each other
- Place your left arm on the right knee as though you are hugging it
- Repeat step 3 the left leg, but with your right foot planted on the floor and left ankle next to your right glute
- Hold either of the poses for up to one minute
How to prevent lower back pain
Finally, there are various precautions that you can implement to lower your chances of experiencing lower back pain. They include: Exercising regularly to keep the back muscles fit and flexible, avoiding prolonged sitting, lifting heavy objects correctly, keeping the body weight within a healthy range, getting enough sleep, and much more.