Simple Stretches to Release Low Back Pain
Three Things to Keep that Pesky Low Back Pain Away!
Oh back pain, you pesky thing!
During the course of our lives MOST of us have or will deal with a bout of low back pain, stiffness, or discomfort. And given our cultural propensity to sit for LONG stretches during the day, well, that just adds to the likeliness that we will experience it at some point or another, whether we are predisposed or not.
But, there are things that you can do to keep the pain and stiffness away AND to help prevent low back pain from taking hold.
Here are three SIMPLE things to incorporate into your life to help keep the pain away:
- Just keep moving… this is obvious, but as we know, common sense is not always common practice. We’ve got to avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time. And this doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply move – in some way – at least every 90 minutes. If you are going on a long car ride, plan to stop and take periodic “stretch breaks” to move your body. If you are at home sitting at a desk, on a couch reading, or wherever you find yourself in the seated position, set a timer or watch the clock to make sure you move around every hour to avoid getting stiff.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. In order to keep our muscles supple and limber, we must keep them hydrated! And there is no better way to ensure that you keep moving every hour than to drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day!
- Stretch Daily. This is the cherry on top. We need to move, hydrate, and stretch, particularly our spine, which keeps our back limber and free from pain. Incorporate the stretching sequence below into your daily routine.*
As the great Joseph Pilates said:
“If your spine is stiff at 30, you are old. If it is flexible at 60, you are young.”
- In the all 4s position, align the shoulders over the wrists and the hips over the knees. Start with a long, neutral spin, which means your back is flat and your neck is long. This will put your gaze straight at the floor.
- Begin by inhaling slowly to a count of five as you gently arch the spin, allowing the belly to drop towards the floor, and the head lifts to gaze straight ahead.
- As you begin your exhale, to a count of five, slowly begin to pull your belly button up towards the ceiling as you round through your spin and drop your head between the frame of your arms. This will put your gaze towards your thighs.
- Continue this breathing and movement pattern for six to eight repetitions.
- Lying facedown on the floor, slide your hands under your shoulders and flatten them on the mat. Allow the legs to be long, parallel, and rest the tops of the feet on the floor. Your neck will stay “long” and aligned with your spine throughout this movement sequence, meaning you will gaze towards the floor to start.
- Take an inhale and fill the lungs.
- As you exhale, slowly press the palms into the floor as you lift the chest gently arching the upper back. Your gaze should be no more than 12 inches in front of you with a slightly tucked chin to keep the neck in a neutral position.
- Hold for an inhale and for an exhale.
- Slowly lower the chest to return to the starting position.
- This exercise will help to lengthen and strengthen the back extensors which are positioned alongside the spine.
- Repeat this movement sequence for three to six cycles.
Standing Side Bend:
- Standing with the feet hips distance apart, reach the arms overhead and take hold of the right wrist with the left hand. Lean to the left as you exhale and stretch. Keep the right foot firmly planted as you stretch all along the right side body. Hold for at least 10 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Continue this side bending sequence at least three times on each side.
There is no time like NOW to embrace your health. It is never too late to start. And with that, I’ll share one final thought which again comes from Joseph Pilates:
The longer we live, the more opportunity we have to improve our health.
*You should always consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs.