Top 10 WF favorite Lower-Back stretches
Lower-back pain is practically an epidemic all over the world, affecting 80
percent of the population at some point, and accounting for 25 percent of all
workers' compensation complaints. A combination of sitting for long periods of
time, poor lifting techniques, and bad postural habits all contribute to this.
Backs "go out" both because of an
imbalance between the
of torso and abdominal muscles and also because of tight hip flexors or
To prevent lower-back pain, you need to do the following:
Strengthen weak muscles.
Stretch tight ones.
Maintain good alignment and a vertical torso when you move.
Avoid leaning forward without supporting the weight of your torso.
Avoid excessively arching your spine.
Be sure to use your legs when you lift heavy objects. Avoid rounding forward
at the waist and creating a "banana back."
Even if you do all of the above diligently, lower-back pain may affect you
anyway. When it does, your best bet is to move your pelvis
gently ("wag" your
tailbone side to side, forward and back, and/or in a circle). This warms and
helps loosen muscles before you stretch.
HUG KNEES TO CHEST
Lie on your back and pull both knees up to your chest. Hold your arms under the
knees, not over (that would put too much pressure on your
knee joints). Slowly
pull the knees toward your shoulders. This also stretches your
ERECTOR SPINAE STRETCH
This stretch lengthens the lower-and the middle-back muscles (the erectors run
through the entire spine). Lying on your back, hug your knees to your chest,
lift the soles of your feet toward the ceiling, grab your feet, and press your
knees toward the floor. If you can't reach your feet, put your elbows inside
your thighs and apply gentle pressure down. If you open your legs wide and place
your elbows inside your knees, you'll also get an inner-thigh stretch.
SEATED LOWER-BACK STRETCH
Sit in a chair or on a bench, feet flat on the floor, legs about hip-distance
apart. Place your hands on your knees and slowly incline your body forward until
your head and upper back hang forward between your legs. (To add an inner-thigh
stretch, brace your elbows inside your knees and press your legs open.) Be sure
to come up slowly so you don't get dizzy.
SEATED OR STANDING TWIST
Sit in a chair or on a bench with both feet flat on the floor. Rotate your head
and chest to one side, so that at least one hand touches the back of your chair.
Keep your feet planted. After you place yourself in this position, take a big
breath and, on the exhalation, twist just a bit further. You can also do this
standing about one foot in front of a wall (keep your back facing the wall).
Place one or both hands on the wall behind you to stabilize your torso-and brace
against your hands to twist your spine further. Switch sides.
On your hands and knees, pull your belly button up into your spine and round
your spine completely-lower back, shoulders, and neck (let your head drop).
Hold. This one's often paired with its companion - in which you gently arch your
back. But it's the cat (that move with the humped back) that stretches the lower
This works nicely right after the cat stretch. On your hands and knees, walk
your hands in front of you. Lower your buttocks down to sit on your heels. Let
your arms drag along the floor as you sit back to stretch your entire spine.
Once you settle onto your heels, bring your hands next to your feet and relax.
"Breathe" into your back. Rest your forehead on the floor. Avoid this position
if you have knee problems.
PELVIC TILT INTO BRIDGE
Lie down with your feet on the floor, heels directly under your knees, arms
overhead to relax your upper back. Lift only your tailbone to the ceiling to
stretch your lower back. (Don't lift the entire spine yet.) Pull in your
stomach. To go into a bridge, lift the entire spine except the neck. The bridge
isn't a lower-back stretch (it actually stretches the abdominals and hip
flexors), but it is a mobility exercise for the lower back that relieves
lower-back pain. This posture lets the fluid in the vertebrae trickle down to
the back of the vertebrae (usually, in a slumped seated posture, that fluid
falls forward into the discs). When you move into and out of the bridge, move
slowly, one vertebra at a time.
ADVANCED STANDING PELVIC TILT
Take a wide stance, feet parallel and slightly wider than hips, with knees bent,
the torso inclined forward 45 degrees and hands on knees (a
Bring the tailbone forward to round the lower back. (This is also a good
limbering exercise.) Round and arch the lower back a few times before holding
the stretch. You can also deepen this stretch by involving the whole spine, from
tailbone to shoulders. To stretch each side of your back, "drop" one shoulder to
the opposite knee and hold. Avoid this position if your lower back feels
Lie on the ground and do the pelvic tilt into the bridge. Place your hands
under your hipbones and keep your elbows on the floor. Lift one leg off the
floor, then the other, and fold your knees toward your chest (feet can point up
to the ceiling). This will shift your weight onto your lower back. Make sure to
keep your centre of gravity in your hips, not your shoulders.
THE FULL SQUAT
Avoid this one if you have bad knees. The full squat isn't as dangerous as you
might think, however. In fact, it can be a very comfortable way to sit or work
in your garden. (It's much safer for your back than bending forward at the
waist.) The easiest way to get into a full squat is to hold on to an immovable
object (a fixed pole or ballet barre, for instance). With a hip-distance stance,
sit your hips back until your buttocks drop below your knees. Lower slowly to
avoid knee trauma. (You can also try this with your back to a wall or without
holding on to anything). Whatever position you choose, keep the weight on your
heels, not on the balls of your feet. This also stretches your quads. Come up
After a tough ab workout it is a good idea to stretch your lower back
muscles. Most people have stiff lower backs, so flexibility exercises are
important. Remember, to include lower back stretches in your workouts,
especially if you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk for a prolonged
period of time.
Dated 29 November 2011