As a person who suffers from scoliosis and lordosis, I’ve did my fair share of searching for ways and stretches for lower back to ease the pain. I’ve taken tablets/pills to help me, been to physiotherapy sessions and in all honesty, it all comes down to strengthening the right muscles and stretching.
I have been practising yoga for more than 3 years now and it has really helped my lower back issues. First thing I would recommend is to pay attention to your posture! As a kid I got told at least 3 times a day to straighten up while I was sitting at a table. So pay attention when you’re sitting, pay attention when you’re walking. Notice if you are slouched, leaning forward or leaning backwards; notice if your shoulders are rounding forward. If you notice things aren’t as they should be, straighten your spine and work on strengthening upper back muscles and the erector spinae.
The next thing you need to do is stretch. One of the main causes of the lower back pain is tight hip flexors and weak abdominal muscles. This is due to a lot of sitting and inactivity. Ideally you should take 25-30 minutes each day or every other day to stretch, but if you’re busy and can’t find time then 5 minutes each morning and 5 minutes before bed will do a lot more than you think! Here are a few of my favourite stretches for lower back that you can incorporate into your next bendy session!
Stretches for Lower Back Pain
Cat – Cow Pose
How to perform?
Begin on all fours. Hands in line with the shoulders, knees in line with the hips. Spread out your fingers wide to have a good, strong base. Firm down through the tops of your feet. Keep a soft bend in your elbows, don’t lock out. Make sure your head is in neutral position and you’re looking straight down on your mat.
Once you feel like you have a good support begin by moving into cow pose – inhale as you drop your belly towards your mat. Lift your chin and chest. From here move into cat pose – draw your bellybutton in towards your spine as you exhale and round your back. Release the crown of your head towards your mat and gently stretch the back of your neck.
Now repeat, inhale as you go into cow pose and exhale as you come to cat pose. Do this as many times as you want. Listen to your body and pay attention to what it needs. The reps can go from 5 – 20 times.
Cat – Cow is a great way to warm up your body and your spine. This pose stretches the back and the neck and opens your chest. Syncing the movement with the breath helps calm the mind and relieve stress. When practised regularly Cat – Cow correctly aligns the spine and helps ease the back pain.
Thread the Needle
How to preform?
Start on all fours. Place your hands in line with the shoulders and knees directly underneath the hips. Head is neutral and gaze is down. This is Table Pose. From Table Pose move your hands slightly up ahead so they’re not completely in line with the shoulders.
Now, start by moving your right hand to the centre of the mat and reach out in front with your left hand. Exhale as you move your left hand (palm facing up) underneath your right arm. Come all the way down with your left shoulder and rest your face on the mat.
Push through the right hand as if you were trying to move the floor down and away. Keep your hips raised and your elbow lifted. Come up onto the fingertips for more of a stretch. Hold the position for 3-5 deep breaths.
To release simply lift yourself through your right hand, then slide your left arm out. Come back to Table Top. Repeat on the other side.
This pose is great for releasing pain in the upper back pain and tension/stiffness in the neck and shoulders. The twisting motion loosens the muscles of the low back and prevents tension.
How to perform?
Begin by lying on your mat. Bend the knees and place feet on the floor. Arms are extended along the side on your body. Make sure your lower back is flushed with the mat. Snuggle the shoulder blades underneath the heart space. Exhale and lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
Draw your tailbone toward your pubic bone and make sure not to squeeze your glutes. To come into the full bridge pose interlace your fingers and extended your arms as much as possible. Keep your knuckles reaching towards your heels. Press firmly through all four corners of your feet and lengthen your tailbone to the back of your knees. Stay in the pose for up to 1 minute.
To come out of the bridge pose release your hands with control and place arms at your side. Exhale as you slowly lower down, one vertebra at a time. Release and extend your legs.
Bridge pose stretches the spine, back of the neck, hip flexors and thighs. It opens your chest and shoulders. This pose stimulates abdominal organs, lungs and improves digestion. It is highly recommended when you’re feeling anxious or stressed. It helps reduce headache, backache and insomnia.
How to perform?
Get in the plank position. That means hands are directly below shoulders and legs are extended with heels reaching towards the back end of the mat. Head is neutral and whole body is in one straight line. Exhale and bring the left foot forward.
Place your foot between your hands. Align the left knee so it’s above the left ankle. DO NOT let the knee go past your toes. Lower your right knee down to the mat. Keep the left knee in place and move the right knee back until you feel a nice stretch in the top of you thigh and hip flexor. Turn the top of your right foot to the mat.
For advanced pose lift the right knee off the floor. Make sure to keep firming down through your feet and stay light on your fingertips. Hold the position for 5-8 breaths and when you’re ready repeat on the other side.
Low lunge is a great pose to help ease and prevent lower back pain. It stretches the psoas muscle and the tops of your thighs. If you sit at a desk a lot this pose is perfect for you. Low lunge encourages full motion in the lower body so practice regularly.
Heart to Earth Pose (Extended Puppy Pose)
How to perform?
Come to the Table Top position. Drop your elbows exactly where your hands were. Make sure your forearms are extended forward (fingers spread wide) and your elbows aren’t coming out. From here move your knees towards the back end of your mat. Still keeping them in the same line with your forearms and hip width apart.
Now drop your heart towards the Earth and if you can, rest your forehead on the mat. Exhale as you release everything and let your hips shine towards the ceiling.
To come out of the pose lift your head and your heart. Draw the knees back to the middle of your mat, followed by lifting up from your forearms to your hands.
This pose in particular is very helpful when you’re experiencing low back pain. It stretches the spine and makes it flexible, and opens your chest and shoulders. Since your hips are pointing upward and you’re releasing your whole body to the ground, you’ll find sweet relief in the lower back. Extended Puppy Pose is great to calm the mind and relieve stress.
Supine (Reclined) Spinal Twist
How to perform?
To perform this pose, come to lay flat back on your mat. Start deepening your breath and as you exhale draw your knees to your chest. Interlace the fingertips as you wrap your arms around your knees.
Keep hugging the right knee in and straighten the left leg up to the sky. Exhale and slowly lower your left leg to the floor. Hold your right knee with your left arm and extend the right arm out at shoulder height, palm facing down. Slightly shift your hips to the right.
Guide your right knee over your left leg and gently press down on it with the left hand. If you can, turn your head to the right so your right ear is touching the floor. Gaze is toward your right fingertips. Make sure your shoulder blades are pressing down and away from your ears. Allow gravity to drop your right knee even further and if your right foot is touching the floor, allow it to rest.
Stay in this pose for 10-12 breaths. Exhale and slowly come back to the centre. Bring the knees to your chest and hold for 3 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Once you have done both left and right side, come back to the Knees to Chest Pose and stay there for a couple of breaths, stretching out your spine and the back of the neck.
Reclined (Supine) Spinal Twist lengthens stretches and realigns the spine. The twist stimulates kidneys, abdominal organs and intestines. It’s great for the whole digestive system as it encourages the flow of fresh blood to the organs. Furthermore, it massages the back and the hips.
This post is for information purposes only. I highly recommend you consult your doctor before starting any type of exercise, especially if you have injuries. Take care of yourself,