Lower back pain is often caused by a weak core and/or overly tight muscles. This causes poor alignment in your body and can lead to improper movement sequences. The fitness staff at the J has created this list of five stretches to help you loosen up those tight muscles and get your body moving more easily.
Make the most of your stretching: The key to getting the most out of stretching is deep breathing. Each stretch should be active. As you “hold” the stretch, you should inhale deeply through your diaphragm. Then, as you slowly exhale, you should try to gently progress more deeply into the stretch.
1. Hip Flexor Stretch
When you have a weaker core, your hip flexors tighten to compensate. This tilts your pelvis into a position that puts increased pressure on your low back. For this stretch, make sure to do 3-4 rounds of deep breaths on each side, sinking a little deeper each time.
2. Piriformis Stretch
When your piriformis becomes too tight, it can compress on your sciatic nerve, leading to pain or discomfort in your low back. For this stretch (two versions below), make sure to do 3-4 rounds of deep breaths, pulling your knee in closer to your body a little more each time.
3. Cat and Cow
The pairing of these exercises helps lengthen and strengthen muscles in your core. For breathing on this exercise, round your spine up towards the ceiling and drop your head as you inhale. Then, on the exhale, arch your back, drawing your belly button towards the floor. Do anywhere from 5-10 rounds of breathing.
4. Hamstring Stretch
Tight hamstrings pull on your low back, shifting it out of alignment. Keeping your back flat, slowly progress forward toward your knees using 3-4 rounds of deep breaths.
5. Lumbar Rotation
This stretch helps loosen up your back and increases mobility. Take a deep breath in while your knees are bent and feet are flat on the floor. Slowly, allow your knees to fall to one side as you exhale. With your knees to the side, take another deep breath in, then on the exhale bring your knees back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do anywhere from 5-10 rounds on each side.