If you suffer from lower back pain, you will need to keep your muscles loose and your spine supple. This is why you need to do some lower back pain stretches for relief and the overall protection of your spine.
Dancers and gymnasts often suffer from lower back pain, especially as they get older, and this is mainly due to wear and tear on the discs of the lower spine. When dancers are in training, extreme care should be taken at all times never to overextend the spine, and to always keep the tummy muscles engaged to minimise back strain. Never force the back to arch more than it can, as this is just asking for trouble in your later years.
What Causes Lower Back Pain?
About eighty percent of the population at some point in their lives suffers from back pain, and most of this is situated in the lower back. Roughly 2 to 10 percent of these people will suffer from chronic lower back pain, which affects their daily living for 3 months or more. Lower back pain stretches can even help the chronic sufferer.
The reason that the lower back is a common area for pain is that the weight of the upper body always puts a load on the lower back. The spine is made up of more than 30 small bones called vertebrae which are stacked one on top of the other. In between each vertebra sits a spongy piece of cartilage, which acts as a shock absorber and prevents the bony vertebrae from grinding against each other. Sometimes as we age, this cartilage wears down and the bones grind against each other which could be one cause of lower back pain.
If you are doing a lot of heavy lifting, you can also increase your risk of a back injury or strained muscles. Nevertheless, a lot of back pain occurs with poor and normal body mechanics. Sometimes you are doing nothing wrong and you can just bend over and end up with a slipped disc or irritated nerve root.
However, if you practice good body mechanics, which is practising the correct way in which to move your body to protect your back, it can certainly help. Pilates is one way in which you can strengthen your back and core muscles, as well as train your body to move correctly and thus to protect your back naturally.
Stand, Sit and Lift Properly
Prevention is always better than cure, so here are a few tips on how to stand, sit and lift in the best way possible in order to protect your back.
Standing and Sitting:
People with disc problems should avoid sitting for long periods of time. If you have disc problems you will generally feel better standing. When sitting there is increased pressure in the abdomen, which is why it is better to stand. If sitting, use a good lumbar cushion or recline the seat backwards to take the pressure off of the spine.
When driving use lumbar support on your car seat, and make sure to do the lower back pain stretches below each morning before climbing out of bed.
People with arthritis in the joints of the back will battle more with standing. Such people tend to hunch forward when standing and walking. This type of person generally feels better when sitting.
When standing and sitting, good posture should be practised. Tummy muscles need to be strong to support the lower back, because as soon as the tummy gets weak, it can no longer support the spine and this is when we tend to arch the lower back while standing.
When lifting something, be realistic about what you can handle, and get help with the item you are trying to lift if it is too heavy.
Here are some tips to protect your spine when lifting:
- Start by standing close to the object you want to lift.
- Your feet should be shoulder width apart.
- Squat by bending your knees and keeping your back in proper alignment. Don’t bend at the waist.
- Tighten your tummy muscles.
- Use your leg muscles to take the weight of the item and not your back.
- Never lift and twist at the same time – this is just asking for trouble. Rather lift the object and turn around using your feet.
- If you are lifting an object with help, do it in unison. Both lift, walk and unload at the same time.
Lower Back Pain Stretches
Here are some great lower back pain stretches to do before you get out of bed in the morning which will help you to keep lower back pain at bay:
- Lie on your back on the edge of the bed with one leg hanging off. This stretches out the hip flexor which could be a cause of lower back pain if tight. Engage your tummy muscles as you do this so you don’t place any stress on the lower back.
- Lie on your back and hug one knee into your chest at a time keeping the opposite leg straight down on the bed.
- Next, gently stretch your leg up while clasping your hands behind your leg. Feel your hamstrings being activated. Tight hamstrings are another cause of lower back pain.
- Bend both knees with your feet on the bed, then take them gently side to side without letting your shoulders lift up.
- Bend one knee with the other leg straight down on the bed and with your opposite hand bring the leg gently across your body, keeping the opposite shoulder firmly on the bed.
- So some pelvic tilts by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the bed and sucking the lower tummy muscles in towards your spine. Curl the spine up gently from the coccyx aiming to round and lengthen the lower spine.
- Sit on your knees and curl over and put your head on the bed, rounding your spine as much as you can.
If you suffer a from a lot of aches and pains, you may want to look at The Stretch Coach. You will definitely find a program here to suit your needs and help you with your back pain.
If you have any other lower back pain stretches and issues to share, please comment below.