Ease Lower Back Pain With These Stretches
Low back pain is very common and effects 4 out of 5 working adults (1). Back pain-related medical costs in Canada range from six to twelve billion dollars each year (2). Many people get relief from assisted stretching and osteopathy. In this blog, I demonstrate two assisted stretches that can be effective at relieving low back pain. In addition, I demonstrate two at-home stretches that I often recommend to my clients to alleviate low back pain. Before attempting these stretches, consult your health care professional to ensure these stretches are appropriate for you.
Assisted Stretches for Low Back Pain
This spinal twist stretch stretches the obliques that travel down the side of the body and the spinal erector muscles in the low and mid back. Often when there is tightness in these muscles, back pain will result. This stretch feels great and can help ease the pain.
The piriformis muscle is located deep in the buttocks. The sciatic nerve travels through the piriformis and continues down into the leg. If the piriformis muscle is tight, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain in the hip and down the leg. Stretching the buttocks and piriformis can ease sciatic-like pain caused by tightness in this area.
Stretches to do at Home
The Cat/Cow exercise improves mobility in the back by enforcing the spinal curvature. Start the position on all fours, with the knees positioned under the hips and the hands positioned under the shoulders. While inhaling, push your belly button towards the floor and push the tailbone and chest towards the ceiling and look upwards. While exhaling, round the spine sending the tailbone and top of the head towards the floor. Complete this exercise a few times each day, rotating between each posture as you inhale and exhale.
While laying on your front on a mat, place both hands near your shoulders as though you’re about to do a push-up. Slowly press your upper body away from the mat, starting with your head, then neck, then upper and mid back and finally lower back. The objective is to create a nice curve in the spine as you raise your body. Avoid hinging at the hips and pushing the back up as a single unit as this will defeat the benefits of the stretch. If this pose causes discomfort or strain in your back, try doing a modified version on the forearms.
Bone and Joint Canada. Low Back Pain. 2014. Available at: http://boneandjointcanada.com/low-back-pain/. Accessed on October 26, 2018.
Canadian Chiropractic Association. Canada’s Low Back Pain Epidemic. 2018. Available at: https://www.chiropractic.ca/blog/canadas-low-back-pain-epidemic/. Accessed October 26, 2018.