Updated: Mar 30, 2019
Back pain should not be taken lightly. Today's modern society involves a large number of hours spent sitting down, either in our work, driving or our social lives. This puts a lot of stress through your back leading to an estimated 80% of the population reporting back pain at some time in their lives. 264 lost work days within one year and that number is rising, but what can be done to ease the pain and improve your quality of life.
1. Single Knee to Chest
Tightness in the hips is a frequent contributor to lower back pain. We can stretch the hamstrings, lower back, and glutes to help ease the pain. Lie on your back with one knee bent and raised, and one leg straight. Place hands behind the bent leg and pull it towards your chest until a light stretch is felt down the back of the leg. You can also place hands over the bent leg on the shin or knee and pull towards your chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds, switch legs and do the same thing. Repeat 3-5 times for each leg.
2. Piriformis Stretch
The piriformis is a small muscle that runs diagonally through the pelvis. It externally rotators the hip and often becomes tight in people who spend significant time sitting, driving, or climbing stairs. An inflamed piriformis can irritate the sciatic nerve which passes through or under it. To perform this stretch, lie flat with one knee bent. Cross the ankle of the opposite leg to be stretched over the bent knee. Pull knee across towards the chest and hold for 20-30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat same action. Repeat 3-5 times for each leg.
3. Core Stability – Pelvic Tilt
A lack of core stability and control is a major contributor of lower back pain. If the abdominal muscles are not performing as they should, the muscles of the lumbar spine have to work harder to stabilise the body in balance. Equally over training the abdominals can place stress of the lumbar spine muscles.
One of the best ways to improve core stability is to lie flat with the knees bent up. Tighten abdominal muscles (as if bracing for a punch to the stomach) and press the small of the back into the floor. Hold this contraction for 10 seconds then return to neutral then continue rotating to increase the arch of your back hold for 10 seconds then return to neutral and repeat 10-20 times. You can either have your arms resting by your sides or behind your head, depending on what’s more comfortable. With this stretch, it is important to remember:
*Keep your feet flat on the floor
*Keep your shoulders pressed to the floor, but relaxed
*Do not hold your breath as you perform this exercise
4. Prayer Stretch
Tucking legs underneath, sit back on the heels and bend forward at the waist, extending arms out over the head onto the floor in front. (The goal is to get length in the lower back muscle). Hold for 20-30 seconds and sit back up. Repeat 3-5 times.