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6 Stretches to Relieve Your Lower Back Pain

Low back pain is a common disorder involving the muscles and bones of the back and pelvis. Studies show that low back pain affects about 40% of people at some point in their lives (so if you experience low back pain you are definitely not alone). Most low back pain is believed to be due to mechanical problems, such as a muscle or a joint strain.

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Low back pain usually stems from the overuse of other muscle groups, specifically the hamstring, hip flexors, and QL (quadratus lumborum). These overused muscles pull the pelvis and lumbar spine into a position where the muscles that stabilize your hip and pelvis can no longer fire properly.

Releasing your hamstrings, hip flexor, and QL will allow the pelvis to return to a neutral resting position and decrease force through the low back.

The following exercises focus on releasing the muscles in problem areas that may cause low back pain.

For hamstring tightness:

  • Lacrosse ball release
    • Sit on a hard surface (table or chair).
    • Place the lacrosse ball underneath your thigh (on your hamstring) and kick your lower leg up and down repeatedly.
    • Start with the ball closer to your glutes and move toward your knee with the ball, intermittently moving the ball as your pain in each specific area subsides.
    • Repeat in 30 second to two minutes intervals.

IMG_0641 (1)

IMG_0642 (1)

For hip flexor tightness:

  • Hip flexor release
    • For this release, use two lacrosse balls taped together.
    • Lay on your stomach and place the double lacrosse ball just below your hip bone.
    • Lean a tolerable amount of weight onto the lacrosse balls.
    • Bend the knee on the side of the release back to a 90 degree angle. Swing your leg side to side in a tolerable range of motion.
    • Repeat in 30 second to two minutes intervals.

HFRelease2 (1)

HFRelease1 (1)

  • TFL release with foam roller
    • Lying on your stomach, place a foam roller or lacrosse ball on the front of your hip.
    • Move up and down allowing the roller or ball to mobilize the muscles in front of your hip.
    • Continue to move the roller or ball around to tender spots and do these movements for 45 seconds or until the tension resolves.
    • Find a tender spot and then bend your knee and move your leg side-to-side.

TFL1

TFL2

  • Hip flexor stretch
    • Begin in half-kneeling position with back leg on a soft pad or pillow.
    • Forward knee should be directly above ankle with a 90 degree bend in knee.
    • To begin stretch, shift weight forward to lunge into forward knee while keeping torso tall and pelvis tucked under. The stretch should come from your pelvis and you should feel it in the front of the hip. Don’t lean forward with your torso.
    • To get a deeper stretch, ​bring the arm on the same side as your back leg up over your head, then side bend and twist your torso away from the leg being stretched.

HFStretch1

HFStretch2

  • Cobra stretch
    • Lay on your stomach with hands palm down at shoulder height.
    • Push shoulders off the ground until arms are straight. Keep your hips down on the ground and elbows close to your sides.

Cobra1

Cobra2

Overused QL:

  • QL release
    • Lie on your back with the ball to the side of your spine in your low back.
    • Slowly shift your weight onto the ball to get deeper into the muscles with the release.
    • Move your knee side-to-side to release your QL (if the ball is on the right side of your low back, move your right knee side-to-side and vice versa).
    • Continue for approximately 2 minutes, then switch to the other side.

QL1

QL2

 

Summer Sanders

Her compassionate approach during treatment is based on previous work and observation in skilled nursing facilities, long-term acute care facilities, and orthopedic clinics. Summer was introduced to React Physical Therapy while completing her final clinical rotation at UIC.

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