A Lean Life

Lower Back Pain Stretches for Strength and Pain Relief

Lower Back Pain Stretches

Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain stretches are a must if you have strained your lower back.  It is your road back to peace and sanity.

Even if you have never strained your back, consistent lower back stretches are a very effective way to avoid lower back strains in your future.  Stretches not only keep your muscles flexible and loose, but are also key to strengthening your back.

According to stats from the National Institute of Health, 4 out of 5 adults (yes…a whopping 80%!) will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.  Many are dealing with this pain on a daily basis.  A huge and daunting number, but it can be dealt with, and lower back pain stretches are a great first start.

My Experience With Lower Back Pain…Hope Springs Eternal

Speaking from experience, there are few things more debilitating than a strained lower back.  It can honestly ruin every day while you’re experiencing it.

I injured my back as a result of improper warm-up and stretching, and then doing low-pulley rows in the gym.  It happened so quickly, and at first seemed very mild – I walked around the gym for a few minutes with what I thought was a minor tweak.  I could have never imagined what the next 7 months would bring…it got progressively worse over the next few days and this became my life…

I used to wake up in the morning and stretch my lower back on the floor.  Then throughout the day I would have my feet up on my desk at work, searching for relief.  Then constantly adjusting the lumbar roll in the base of my chair.  Then getting “stuck” in certain positions…can’t move for 30 seconds until you wiggle your way out of it – grimacing the whole time.

Then was off to physical therapy in the afternoon, where I would barrage the therapist with the same ole’ question…”Do you think my back will ever get better?”

Then at night doing lower back pain stretches before I went to bed.  Following every routine and stretch I was learning in therapy.  Then trying to find that perfect position while sleeping to avoid the midnight pinch.  Then waking up the next day for another adventure…it was endless.

My back took 7 months to fully recover, and the guiding wisdom from two very exceptional orthopedics.  So yes, for most people, it does eventually get better…and maybe even better than ever.

It is my hope that by following the lower back pain stretches below, that you can improve your strained back or never have a back strain to begin with.

Hope springs eternal…

Benefits of Lower Back Pain Stretches

The following outlines the benefits of lower back pain stretches:

  • Creates more flexibility in the muscles of the lower back, thus reducing the risk of injury or strain
  • Will improve the pain and discomfort in the lower back if you have suffered an injury
  • Improve circulation
  • When performed as part of a lower back workout routine, will strengthen your lower back

Lower Back Pain Stretches

Despite the pain and discomfort that I felt for 7 long months as I dealt with a lower back strain, I am now actually glad that I went through the experience.  The reason…as a result of the lower back pain stretches and exercises that I learned, my back is now stronger than ever.

Equally important…I am more knowledgeable and educated then ever on how to keep my lower back healthy.  And I follow these exercises very diligently on a near daily basis.  I am still cautious and do not do certain exercises, like squats with a barbell.

Even though I feel my back is stronger than ever, I just won’t risk going back there.

The lower back pain stretches within this page are the ones I learned from the ortho docs, the therapists, and some friends I made during physical therapy that showed me their effective favorite stretches – as well as my own research.  So they are time-tested, offered by professionals, and comprehensive.

Remember…never stretch cold muscles.  Always do some form of light cardio for a few minutes to get the blood flowing and the muscles warmed up (such as hopping in place, jumping jacks, or jumping rope).


Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring Anchor Stretch

This stretch is first for a reason…two orthopedics told me that there is no more important stretch for lower back health than the hamstring stretch.

A tight hamstring puts continuous pressure on the lower back, creating tension on the muscles.  Conversely, a well-stretched hamstring gives the lower back relief, and reduces or eliminates this tension.

  1. Position 1 leg on a chair, table, or any fixed object as shown.
  2. Lean forward with your upper body, but do not curl your upper body toward your knee.  Keep your head on the same plane – see photo.
  3. Hold this position for 20 seconds – Recover.
  4. Stretch the other leg.

Knee to Chest Stretch

Knee to Chest Stretch

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs extended.
  2. Lift 1 leg and pull your knee to your chest – hold for 10-20 seconds – Recover
  3. Alternate legs
  4. Lift both legs and pull your knees to your chest – hold for 10-20 seconds – Recover
  5. Repeat this cycle 5 times

Bridge Stretch

Back Bridge

  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent as shown
  2. Push your body off the floor until your back is aligned straight as shown
  3. Hold for 20 seconds – Recover
  4. Repeat this 5 times

Arch Stretch

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  1. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent
  2. Keeping your rear on the ground, arch your back as far as you can
  3. Hold this position for 20 seconds – Recover
  4. Repeat this 5 times

Superman Stretch (improve lower back strength)

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  1. Lie face down on your stomach with your arms and legs “spread eagle”
  2. Lift your arms and legs at the same time as far as you comfortably can and hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds (depending on your conditioning level) – Recover
  3. Repeat this 5 times

Seated Torso Rotation

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  1. Sit in a chair and cross your left leg over your right leg
  2. Turn your torso to your right, and use your left leg to brace your turn
  3. Hold for 20 seconds – Recover
  4. Now do the opposite leg and rotate to your left
  5. Repeat this 5 times

Modified Push-up

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  1. Lay face-down on your stomach
  2. Do a modified push-up keeping your lower body on the floor (see photo)
  3. Hold position for 10 seconds – Recover
  4. Repeat 5 times

Hyperextensions (strengthen and stretch the lower back)

  1. Position yourself on the hyperextension bench as shown
  2. Slowly lower your upper body to the down position – hold for 3 seconds
  3. Extend your body to the up position – hold for 3 seconds
  4. Repeat until your lower back is sufficiently worked

Caution:  The up and down movements should be very slow and controlled.

The key to effective hyperextensions is holding the stretch for 3 seconds in the up and the down position (see video below).  This isolates and forces the lower back muscles to work, and stretch.  This sage advice came from an orthopedic who helped me through my back problems.
I recommend the X Mark Fitness 45 Degree Ab Back Hyperextension Roman Chair.  It is affordable, durable, and very effective.


Back Extensions

Back extensions require gym equipment, but are an excellent exercise to strengthen the lower back.

The key is to hold the up and down positions for 3 seconds, and to always use slow and controlled movements – never jerky.


Sit-ups

Performing sit-ups on a regular basis will strengthen your abs and torso, and therefore strengthen your core.  A strong, flexible core is essential to lower back comfort.  Again, recommended by orthopedics for lower back and core strength.

 

Post Workout Stretch

At the end of every stretching or workout routine I perform, I stretch my lower back in a Precor Stretch Trainer. These machines are exceptional for stretching the lower back. If you are not interested in making that investment, then you can use the floor to achieve a similar stretch.

Tips to Avoid Lower Back Strains

Finally, here are some tips to avoid lower back strains in your future:

  • When lifting heavy objects, always use your legs to do the lifting, not your torso and back.  Never use jerky motions – always slow and cautious.
  • Stretch your lower back every day for flexibility and strength.
    Follow the stretches above on this page.
  • Perform resistance exercises to strengthen back, torso, and core – hyperextensions, sit-ups, crunches, back extensions, etc.
  • Always maintain good posture.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – obesity is a significant risk factor for back problems.
  • Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes with solid support.
  • Eat a nutritious diet with FDA-recommended guidelines for calcium and Vitamin D.
  • Never smoke – this interferes with blood circulation and therefore affects nutrients supplied to the bones and discs in the lumbar area.  Smoking also contributes to osteoporosis (bone loss).

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