Let’s face it, we all experience lower back pain. It’s uncomfortable and seems like it’ll just never go away! The key to finding relief is to stay active and strong. However, a part of being active that many people neglect is stretching. While we do need to strengthen our lower back and core, we must also remember to stretch it to relieve the aches and pains that come with getting older. If you’re ready to start a stretching routine that will help you feel better and move easily, then read on. Here are our top ten stretches to alleviate lower back pain and sciatica pain in wiser adults.
1. Single Knee to Chest
This stretch will help the lower back become longer and relieve any tension we may be carrying. To begin, lay on your back on either the floor, couch, or bed. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. Using both hands, pull your right knee towards your chest. Pull until you feel a good stretch in your back, but do not overdo it. You should not feel any bad pain. Hold your leg for five seconds and then release it. Repeat on your left leg.
2. Double Knee to Chest
As we become more flexible, we can start doing the double knee to chest stretch. This feels great on the lower back. Again, we’ll begin on our back on a soft, firm surface like a yoga mat, couch, or bed. Pull both your knees to your chest. Support the back of your thighs with your hands and try to get your knees as close to your chest as possible. Keep your lower back glued to the floor the entire time. You can increase the stretch by lifting your head and pointing it towards your knees, almost like you are making yourself into a ball. This leads us to our next stretch.
Once you can do the double knee to chest stretch, it’s time for us to start rocking! Bring both knees to your chest and lift your head off the floor. Form as tight of a ball as you can and gently rock back and forth. You should feel this stretch on your lower back. It should feel like a massage and release tension. If you want to massage all of your back, you rock from front to back, but be careful with your neck.
4. Cross-Legged Low Trunk Rotation
Start this one by lying on your back on the floor or a bed. Your arms should be relaxed by your side. Bend both knees with your feet flat on the floor. Lift your right knee and place it over your left knee, just like how you would sit cross-legged in a chair. Twist your lower body towards the right until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold for 20 seconds and return to the start position. Repeat with your left leg over your right leg.
6. Quad and Psoas Stretch
This stretch will work both our hips and our quads. If these muscles are too tight, they can cause lower back pain. You may want to be near a wall since this move requires some balance. If you have any knee pain, grab a towel or blanket to help ease any pressure on your knee. Begin by kneeling on the floor with your left leg. Your right leg should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your back straight and shift your hips forward so that you feel a stretch in your hips. Once you feel comfortable, bend your left knee so that your foot is close to your glutes. Grasp your foot for a quad stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and then repeat on the opposite legs.
7. Pelvic Tilt
The pelvic tilt both strengthens and stretches our core muscles. It makes our abdominal muscles stronger while stretching out our lower back. This stretch is also good for our glutes and hamstrings. Lie on your back, bend both knees, and place your feet flat on the floor. As always, you can do this on a couch or bed if that is better. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in and flattening your back against the floor. This will tilt your pelvis down. Hold this position for 10 seconds while breathing normally. Release this position and relax. Repeat this movement 10 times.
8. Piriformis Stretch
This is a great stretch for our glutes and lower back. It specifically targets the piriformis muscle, which is found deep in our gluteal muscles. Begin by laying on your back with both knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the floor, couch, or bed. Take your right ankle and place it at the bottom of your left thigh. Now, grasp your left thigh with both hands and pull it towards your chest. You should feel a deep stretch. Gently untwist and repeat on the other side. Hold for 60 seconds on each side.
9. Seated Piriformis Stretch
If you find the piriformis stretch too intense or too painful, then you can stretch the same muscle by sitting down. Sit in a sturdy chair with no arms. Begin with your back straight and both feet flat on the floor. Lift your right ankle and place it on your left thigh. Lean forward until you feel the stretch in your glutes. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds and then repeat on the opposite legs. Here it is shown on a foam roller. See your Guide to Foam Rolling for Back Health to get even more stretches using a foam roller.
10. Seated Lower Back Rotations
We can perform this stretch on a chair with no arms, like a kitchen chair, or by sitting on the floor. If you are in a chair, sit with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Twist your upper body to the right, without moving your lower body. Place your left hand on your right knee to increase the stretch. Look back behind your shoulder if can. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the left side. If you prefer to do this on the ground. Sit up tall with your legs straight in front of you. Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the other side of your left knee. Twist towards the right and use your right knee to help you twist, by either hugging it or placing your left arm on it. Put your right hand on the ground behind you to keep you stable and get deeper into the stretch. Hold for 20 – 30 seconds, untwist, and repeat on the left side
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