The lower back supports the entire upper body. It allows for bending, extending, or rotating at the waist. Unfortunately, lower back pain affects millions of men each year, causing anything from mild to severe activity restrictions. Fortunately though, there are lower back stretches that may help prevent injury and are safe even if you already suffer from lower back pain.
It is important to stretch the lower back muscles, ligaments, and tendons before and after exercise in order to prevent injury. The following lower back stretches are great for the lower back even if you already suffer from lower back pain. These lower back stretches can also be used for warming-up prior to lower back exercises or resistance training. Click on any image for a full video demonstration.
5 Lower Back Stretches
The pelvic tilt is an exercise for increasing strength and mobility in the lower back. While laying flat on the ground with his knees bent and feet on the floor, the user simply tilts his pelvis backwards, keeping the rest of the body in place. When first performing the pelvic tilt, the user may have a tendency to push the whole hip area off the floor. This is incorrect. The movement should be very isolated, almost to the degree that an observer might not be able to identify the motion. The user should be careful not to stretch too far or stretch too hard. This can do more harm than good.
The knee to chest stretch works to strengthen and improve flexibility in the low back. While lying on the floor lift your knees up toward your chest. Then, grasp the backside of your legs right above your the knees and gently pull toward the chest. When performing the stretch, be sure to maintain balance.When performing the stretch, be sure to maintain balance. Your pelvis should lift slightly off the floor. The user should be careful not to stretch too far or stretch too hard. This can do more harm than good.
The trunk flex is a back exercise for relieving pain and increasing flexibility in the lower back. When performing this exercise, the user simply leans back on his own feet from the starting position. Different users will have different low back health and different levels of flexibility. Therefore, when performing the trunk flex, only lean as far back on the calves as is comfortable. The user should be careful not to stretch too far or stretch too hard. This can do more harm than good.
Cat and Camel
The cat and camel is one of the best dynamic lower back stretches. The “cat” part involves the users lowering his low back and flexing the pelvis. For the “camel,” the user then arches the low back and tilts the pelvis the other way. These motions work in unison to promote flexibility and increase the range of motion in the low back. The user should be careful not to stretch too far or stretch too hard. This can do more harm than good.
Single Leg Knee-to-Chest
This stretch is one of the most important lower back stretches for both relieving low back pain and improving future low back health. It should be part of any stretching routine. It is important for the user to keep the leg that is not being pulled to the chest flat on the ground. Doing so keeps the back in the proper position for the best lower back stretch. The user should be careful not to stretch too far or stretch too hard. This can do more harm than good.
Keep the following in mind when performing any of these lower back stretches:
- Lower back stretches should be pain free; do not force the body into difficult positions.
- Move into these stretches slowly and avoid bouncing, which may actually tear muscles.
- Hold stretches long enough (20-30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose.
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EMG Resources: Lower Back Pain Exercises
External Resources: Spine-Health: Stretching for Back Pain Relief
Updated: April 1st, 2015