What’s pop’n diesel dolls & dudes? After my last post about relieving neck pain with yoga, I received a few requests for a similar tutorial for stretches for the lower back. This topic is near and dear to my heart since I suffered from acute sciatica due to a weightlifting injury. Practicing yoga and strength training with calisthenics is what rehabilitated my back and I’ve been pain-free ever since!
What Causes Low Back Pain?
There are a ton of factors that can cause low back pain ranging from sudden trauma, to improper posture. In my case, it was both. Not only did I injure myself during training, but according to my chiropractor, my form was incorrect from having been in a loaded position with improper posture. I had an anterior pelvic tilt causing me to have a lordotic back or as latin girls call it “duck butt.” 😉 This posture is also common in pregnant women, from having their center of gravity changed from the weight of the baby causing their pelvis to pull forward.
Sure, we all know that the full back bridge is a great way to strengthen and stretch the spine. But when there’s pain in your low back, it’s best to avoid the full expression of the pose and practice milder and more restorative back extensions.
The following poses can be held anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute, and can be practiced daily. I’ve recommended these postures to my clients for a variety of different back issues with great results.
Bound Locust Pose
This exercise is a mild backbend that stretches the anterior chain of your body including pecs, abs, and shoulders. It also strengthens your glutes. When practiced with bound hands, you target and strengthen not only your lumbar spine but your upper thoracic spine, too.
Begin lying on your stomach with your chin in a neutral position and your hands interlaced behind your back. Inhale and lift your chin and chest off the mat as you squeeze your palms together attempting to fully extend your elbows. Push off the tops of your feet for more support as you lift your chest and engage your glutes. You can intensify the stretch by lifting both your feet off the ground.
Reclining Hamstring Pose
Tight hamstrings can often manifest as sciatica or other low back afflictions. This reclining hamstring pose is great for stretching your hamstrings, groin, calves and thighs, as well as strengthening your knee joint.
Start lying on your back with one leg extended on the mat and the other extended upwards. Grasp the back of your leg with both hands and gently begin pulling it towards you. Actively flex your foot to keep your knee fully extended. To intensify the stretch, move your hands further up your leg and pull your leg closer to your body.
If you cannot comfortably reach for your leg, feel free to use a strap around your foot to pull your leg. Remember to stretch both sides.
This classic pose from yoga is also considered a mild backbend that stretches the entire front of your body and strengthens your wrists, arms, and vertebral column.
Begin lying in a prone position with your hands positioned beneath your shoulders and legs extended behind you. The tops of your feet and palms of your hands should be flat on the ground. Press into the ground to lift and extend your chest upwards as you straighten your arms and turn your inner elbows forward. Engage your quads and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips and thighs off the ground.
Twisting poses are a great way to realign your spine and stretch your back muscles and glutes.
Start lying on your back with one knee bent towards your chest and the opposite leg extended on the mat. Gently guide your bent knee over to the opposite side, twisting from your waist. Use your hand to apply pressure to deepen the twist as you gaze over the opposite shoulder. Remember to twist evenly on both sides.
Reclining Pigeon Pose
Piriformis syndrome is another common lower back affliction. It is caused by the piriformis muscle compressing on the sciatic nerve. Reclining pigeon targets this deep glute muscle and can help relieve pain and promote recovery.
Start lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Cross one leg on top of the other so your ankle is positioned on the thigh of your opposite leg. Interlace your hands through your legs to pull your bent knee towards your body.
Last but not least, the ultimate stretch for your hips and low back is the Garland pose. Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and your toes turned slightly outward. Reach your arms forward as you bend your knees and squat until your thighs rest against your calves. Bring your hands to a prayer position positioning your elbows against your inner thighs. Actively press your elbows into your legs and extend the crown of your head upwards to lengthen through your spine. Deep squatting helps improve flexibility in your entire hip complex and relieve or prevent low back issues.
Back Be Nimble
Low back pain is definitely prevalent in our society and it’s possible you already know someone who is suffering from this affliction. If so, feel free to share this article with them! If YOU have any ideas or questions for future articles, leave your suggestions in the comments below!
Til next time, peace, ❤ & Ninja Kicks!