Lower back pain is a common complaint among adults of all ages. Piedmont Atlanta Fitness Center exercise physiologist Paige Jones, ACSM CES, demonstrates three stretches that have been shown to reduce lower back pain so you can get back to the activities you enjoy. All you will need is an exercise mat or towel and a strap or belt. Remember, if you have severe back pain that makes it difficult to complete daily tasks, talk with your doctor to rule out a more serious condition.
Single knee to chest with pelvic tilt
Lie on your back with your feet flat and knees bent. You may notice there is a natural curve in your spine, so flatten your lower back completely onto the floor. Tilt your pelvis toward your rear and engage your abs. Pull one knee toward your chest with your hands, relaxing through your hips. You may feel this stretch in your hamstrings and glutes, but it also helps stretch the lower back. If you are more advanced, you can straighten your other leg to the floor. To really take things to the next level, bring both knees to your chest. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, then switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Three-part hamstring stretch
You’ll need a strap or belt for this move.
Part one: Sitting on the floor, bend your right knee and place the strap beneath your right foot. Carefully lie down on your back, straightening your right leg toward the sky. Keep your left leg flat on the floor. Engage your thigh and walk your hands up the strap for an even deeper stretch. You will feel this stretch in your hamstrings. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Part two: This move will stretch your inner thighs. Remaining in the same position, stretch your left arm directly out to the side. Keeping your right leg straight, slowly drop your left leg to the right as far as you comfortably can. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Part three: Bring your leg back to center and switch hands so your left hand is now holding the strap. Straighten your left leg and pull your right leg across the midline of your body to the left side, with minimal twisting in your spine. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat all three moves on the other leg.
Figure four stretch
Lying on your back with knees bent, cross your left ankle over your right knee. Lift your right leg off the floor and place your hand behind your thigh, pulling your leg back toward your upper body. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
While they may seem focused on the hip and thigh areas, these moves will strengthen and stretch your lower back as well. Complete these stretches each day to decrease your chance of injury, reduce pain and improve your quality of life. More fitness tips can be found in Tips & Tools on HealthWatchMD.