Try these five stretches to get your life back.
You’re not sure what you did, but your back is killing you. Could it be from working in the garden, a twist in your tennis match, or just old age? All you know is it’s now painful to sit or stand for long, it even hurts to touch, and it is causing muscle spasms.
In most cases of low-back pain, gentle stretches and low-impact exercises prove to help you find relief. Because your abdominal and back muscles surround and support your spine, by strengthening and stretching your core, you can help heal low-back pain.
Unless the pain is severe or due to an injury, try these seven stretches each day for a week before making an appointment to see your doctor.
This common yoga exercise works to strengthen the core muscles as you move and balance your body. Get on your hands and knees so your hands are directly beneath your shoulders and your knees are directly beneath your hips. Now slowly raise one arm forward, return it to the ground, and then extend one leg one at a time. Hold for a few seconds then lower. Strengthen your muscles even more by lifting your right arm forward and extending your left leg behind you at the same time. Then switch sides. During this exercise always keep your back and neck straight.
While still on all fours, try the cat curl exercise. Like a scared cat, tighten your abdominal muscles and arch your back up toward the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds and then lower your back to a neutral position. Repeat.
Prone Arm and Leg Raises
A third effective low-back exercise is done by lying face down on the floor. Extend your arms straight above your head. Like the bird dog, lift your arms and legs one at a time. Hold for a few seconds, then lower. Now raise your left arm and right leg at the same time. Alternate sides.
Get a good stretch through the back of your upper leg to your lower back. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Hold each end of a towel, wrap it around the bottom of your left foot, and extend your leg. Use the towel to slowly pull your leg up until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg. Hold for 15 seconds then switch legs. With back pain, always stretch one leg at a time and avoid double leg lifts.
A fifth exercise to try for low-back pain is the bridge. While still on your back, bend your knees and place your heels on the floor. Now push into your heels, tighten your glutes, and raise your hips up off the floor so your shoulders, hips, and knees make a straight line. Make sure your back doesn’t overarch, but stays straight. Hold a few seconds, then lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat.
Stay on the floor in the same position but place your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles as hard as you can while pressing your back down onto the floor. Your hips and pelvis will also tilt back. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then relax. Repeat.
Knee to Chest
End your low-back exercise session with the knee-to-chest stretch. While lying on the floor with your knees bent, pull one knee up toward your chest while the other foot stays resting on the floor. As you pull your knee, press your lower back toward the floor. Hold for 15 seconds, then switch knees.