Stretches For Lower Back Pain

by Caleb Lee on July 14, 2009

stretches-for-lower-back-pa

Need to stretch your lower back? Read This ...

If you’d like to know some good stretches for lower back pain, then you should definitely read this short article.

In fact, even if you don’t yet have lower back pain, you should read this article and take this information into consideration because it could actually PREVENT you from having lower back pain in the future … if you put some of the information to use!

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

As I mentioned on my post on lower back pain help, here’s the causes of lower back pain:

  • The root cause of 99% of lower back pain (or back pain in general) problems is from muscle imbalances…
  • Most of us in modern cultures suffer from a condition called “lordosis” from our lifestyles (sitting down a lot, weak posterior chain, etc)…
  • A LOT of sports movements — training one side of your body (the front) and not the other (the back) — add to this problem…
  • And most people NEVER get to the root cause of lower back pain (correcting muscle imbalances) and instead constantly stay in a “ready to be injured” state — always treating the symptoms of lower back pain (pain, heat/ice, etc)
  • Here’s a simple diagram of how back pain is developed, courtesy of the Healthy Back Institute:


how-back-pain-develops

What is Lordosis?

lordosis-lower-back-pain

Most of us suffer from Lordosis (the back on the right)

This condition is caused by a number of lifestyle factors. For the majority of us in the developed world it’s because we sit around on our butts all day at desks and because this is a position where the hip flexors are shortened and the glute muscles are dormant … our bodies adapts in the following ways :

  • Shortened hip flexors  in the front of your body …
  • Weak abs and glutes get stretched …
  • Which tilts your pelvis forward (“anterior” tilt) from the top …

Then, when you exercise (especially when you’re training your abs), you are making the problem worse:

  • You only train the muscles you see in the mirror, the front of your body, and increase the problem…
  • Your quads (front of your thighs) get stronger while your posterior chain (back of your body muscles) don’t get trained (from not squatting below parallel, doing too much direct quad work without direct hamstring and glute work)…
  • You do too many crunches and situps which both shorten your abs and shorten your hip flexors even more!

Your tight hip flexors and stronger quads pull your pelvis forward and down… while your weak glutes and tight lower back allow your pelvis to tilt forward. So the main enemies you’re fighting when it comes to back pain is:

  • Weak posterior (back of the body) chain: with emphasis on glutes and hamstrings
  • Shortened hip flexors on the front of your body
  • Shortened and tight abdominals from crunching movements
  • Tight lower back from all the above

What Can You Do About It?

You can do a combination of stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weak ones. I’ve written a lot about  Posterior Chain – Why You Gotta Train Yo’ Back-Side and other topics for strengthening muscles like effective ab training without making the problem worse … so this is going to focus on what stretches you should do.

You should do the following stretches …

1. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

standing-hip-flexor-stretch

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

In order to make this one work better, you should use the law of reciprocal inhibition — which says that when one muscle contracts the opposite and opposing muscle relaxes — so to get a deeper stretch of the front hip flexors, you’ll want to contract your glutes hard.

You should do this one MANY times throughout the day. Instead of sitting on your butt all day long, you should get up every 5 or 15 minutes and do this stretch throughout the day. Hold for counts of 3-5 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

2. Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch …

lunging-hip-flexor-stretch

Lunging hip flexor stretch

This is a more intense way to stretch your front hip flexors. I do this one whenever I’m done working out and occasionally before strength training. You’ll probably notice one side of your body is in more pain, quicker, when doing this exercise because that side of your body is tighter. Good. Now you know what you need to work on. Again, Hold for counts of 3-5 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

3. Seated Butt Stretch

Sometimes you’ll get lower back pain that hurts your butt or causes your leg to hurt, this will help relieve it.

seated-piriformis-stretch

Seated Piriformis stretch

Again, this is one of those stretches you can do while you’re at work throughout the day to keep yourself in check.

4. Laying Down Butt Stretch

This is a more intense (or can be) version of the seated butt stretch. Notice it’s basically the same position with your hips and legs …

lying-piriformis-stretch

Lying Piriformis stretch

5. Seated Lower Back Stretch

lower-back-stretch

Seated Lower Back Stretch

Again, this is a great one to do while you’re at work or virtually any time of day. Don’t go overboard with this one right after strength training though because you don’t want your body to “assume” a stretched out position for your lower back because some “tightness” is necessary there to stabilize your spine.

Instead, use this stretch along with the others to relieve your pain and to get these tight muscles looser so that you can strengthen the opposite and opposing muscles.

Want More Information?

Then you can do no better than to check out The Healthy Back Institute’s Lose The Back Pain System. It’s definitely a worthwhile purchase because it let’s you correctly identify what’s causing your back pain, then gives you much more in depth and step-by-step instructions on how to correct the muscle imbalances that are causing your lower back pain.

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Twitter Tweets about lower back pain as of March 11, 2010 | BACK PAIN TWEETS
March 12, 2010 at 12:27 am

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kayla October 14, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Does this really help back pain? Because i have fell a couple of times and my back has been killing me. I go to curves and i exercise alot.. So i was looking on the internet and see what stretches i can do at home…. Please reply back…
Thanks,
Kayla

Reply

Caleb_Lee November 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Kayla,

Why don't you try them and see for yourself?

– Caleb

Reply

joseph November 6, 2010 at 4:25 am

im a yoga guru who has dealt with low back and and a current PT . these stretches are excellent in gettin rid of back pain, but it takes time and you have to keep doing them one time wont fix it.

Reply

Caleb_Lee November 12, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Great point Joseph!

Reply

bobby February 23, 2011 at 4:20 am

im a teenager with lower back pain is this mostly from growing pains?

Reply

Caleb_Lee March 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Maybe? It's hard to tell …

Reply

jocelyn May 24, 2011 at 8:34 pm

I’m having a hard time keeping myself motivated 2 keep stretching everyday. Any suggestions?

Reply

Caleb_Lee July 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm

If you're stretching for back pain then the pain in your back should be motivation enough?

Reply

chiropractor May 25, 2011 at 1:30 am

Keep the following in mind when starting a stretching routine as part of a program of back exercises:
Wear comfortable clothes that won’t bind;
Stretching should be pain free; do not force the body into difficult positions;
Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which may actually tear muscles;
Stretch on a clean, flat surface that is large enough to move freely;
Hold stretches long enough (20-30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose; and
Repeat the stretch, generally 5 – 10 times.
If one already has low back pain or neck pain, it is best to check with a physician or physical therapist to discuss whether the following neck, shoulder and lower back pain exercises should be done.

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