Low back pain can range anywhere from a minor annoyance to a full-on debilitating condition. Luckily, many cases of moderate low back pain can be improved by doing stretches that target the muscles specifically involved in supporting the low back and the functioning of the low back. We spoke with Dr. Tim O’Neil, a board certified chiropractor, to find out what stretches he suggests to improve and/or prevent low back pain.
- The Bridge stretch is done by placing your hands and feet flat on the ground and arching your back as far from the ground as you can with your belly button toward the sky. You probably remember doing this one during your childhood. Dr. O’Neil says this is probably the best stretch you can do because it involves lots of extensor muscles and reinforces the natural arch in your back. He recommends holding the pose until it starts to hurt, then relax and do it once more… and don’t forget to squeeze your butt while doing the stretch!
- The Upward Dog Stretch is done by laying on your stomach and getting in a push up position. Then you raise your upper body, keeping your hips and legs where they are. This stretch improves low back and arch support. Just the same as the Bridge, hold this pose until it starts to hurt then relax and repeat. You should really feel a stretch in your abs while you pull tight with you low back and buttocks.
- The last stretch recommended by Dr. O’Neil is the Modified Locus Pose. To do this one, lay flat on your stomach with your arms stretched out above your head so that your body is in a straight line. Then lift your head up followed by you right arm and left leg straight toward the sky. Keep your torso and opposite arm and leg down. Hold the pose until it starts to hurt, release and relax and switch the arm and leg and repeat.
Dr. O’Neil points out that it is important to realize that if there is an underlying structural problem, no amount of stretching or exercise will help. “I recommend that you get a spinal evaluation by a chiropractor in your area and take the first step toward great back health!” he said. Learn more about Dr. Tim O’Neil at http://omega-chiropractic.com.
When talking about low back pain we can’t forget about those of you who are pregnant, because we all know how easily low back pain can develop during this time. Tracey Mallett (http://www.traceymallett.com), a world-renown fitness and wellness expert, and creator of the Booty Barre program, has a few suggestions that are great for pregnant women.
The following exercises can be done safely throughout your pregnancy:
- Cat with Pillow – This stretch releases the lower back muscles. To do it, start on all fours with a pillow between your legs and with your spine in a neutral position. Then, exhale and draw your abs to your spine as you push away and round the upper back, stretching through the lower spine. “Squeezing the pillow works the inner thighs and helps to activate the pelvic floor and deep abdominals or transverse abdominals,” Mallett said.
- The Hip Flexor Stretch – This stretch releases the hip flexors that pull on the pelvis and can cause some of the lower back pain. To do this one, sit on a chair for support in a lunge position, with your hips square to the side of the room. Next, focus on pressing the pelvis forward and drawing in the abs to release the hip flexors.