Top 6 stretches to help with low back pain  

Low back pain can be anywhere between intermittent and mildly irritating to constant and completely debilitating. Whilst it is important to attain a diagnosis and management plan from your physiotherapist, below are a few of our favourite stretches to help reduce the risk of your low back pain stopping you from doing what you want to do.  

Note: all stretches should be help for about 30 seconds

1. Hamstrings 

Tension in the hamstrings can limit your ability to bend forward at the hips, which increases the load on your low back. Try this stretch which keeps your low back in a safe position 

  • Lying on your back as shown, bring your hip to 90 degrees 
  • Slowly straighten your knee, keeping your toes pointed away from you 
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of the thigh 

2. Piriformis 

This small muscle deep in the buttock can be another contributor to low back pain, particularly if leaning forward brings on your pain. Try the following stretch:  

  • Lying on your back as shown, hold your right knee with your right hand  
  • Hold your right ankle with your left hand 
  • Pull your right knee towards your left shoulder and simultaneously pull your right ankle towards you 
  • You should feel a stretch deep in your buttock 

 3. Hip flexors 

One of your main hip flexors, the psoas, attaches deep into your lumbar spine then passes in front of your hip. Tightness in this muscle can cause abnormal mechanics in your low back, which can bring on pain. Try this stretch: 

  • Kneeling as shown, ensure that your front knee is bent to 90 degrees 
  • Squeeze your buttocks so that your low back doesn’t arch 
  • Move your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip 
  • If you don’t feel a stretch yet, raise your arms then lean away from the kneeling side  

 4. Low back – crucifix 

The crucifix is a great stretch for low backs that a generally stiff and tight in the mornings. It’s also a terrific way to loosen up before most forms of exercise. It can be done as a static stretch (hold for 20 – 40 seconds) or as a dynamic movement (alternate side to side without any sustained holds).  

  • Start by lying on your back with arms outstretched 
  • Pick one knee up towards your chest then let it drop over your body to the floor on the other side 
  • Keep your arms and shoulders on the ground 
  • Repeat both sides 

 5. Cat stretch 

If you get your soreness when you arch your back to lean backwards, this stretch can be a nice way to relieve some of the joints in your back and give the muscles around them a much-needed stretch out.   

  • Starting on hands and knees, keep your hands flat on the floor 
  • Slowly move your buttocks towards your heels and let your head fall down between your shoulders
  • Feel a gentle stretch in the low, mid and upper backs as well as your shoulders and arms 

 6. Neural mobility  

Particularly early in the morning, your nerves can still be a bit sensitive and contribute to a feeling of discomfort and stiffness through the low back and legs. Try this activity, but remember not to hold the stretch for more than a second or two 

Starting position:  

Slumping on a table or chair with chin to chest and knees bent at about 90°Keep your knees and heels together. Repeat this exercise 20 times on each leg.

 

Let us know how you go and if any of these stretches have help,

 

Dave