Lower-back pain affects far too many people. It might not always be debilitating, but even a small amount of pain indicates that something is wrong, and you need to address the issue.
When you have lower-back pain, the cause might actually be something that seems totally unrelated. Your body is linked together, and an issue in one area can result in a chain reaction effect that ends up putting stress on your lower back. For example, tight hip flexors caused by sitting too often can tilt your pelvis backwards (i.e., anterior pelvic tilt), causing your lower back to extend and increasing stress and force across this area of your body.
The six stretches below help prevent and alleviate pain. Watch the video above to learn how to perform the exercises, and check out my YouTube channel for more health and performance tips.
1. Hamstring Stretch
When your hamstrings aren't firing properly, your low-back muscles compensate, putting excess strain on your low back. Tight hamstrings can contribute to and exacerbate low-back issues. Keep your knee extended, your toe pointed up and curve your low back. Hold for 15 seconds for 2 repetitions on each side.
2. Piriformis Stretch
For those of us who are forced to sit for a living, the piriformis muscle can easily get inflamed. It attaches to the sacrum (the tail bone), which means that when it gets tight it can cause low-back pain. Cross one leg over the other and lean forward, keeping the curve through your low back. Hold for 15 seconds for 2 repetitions on each side.
3. Psoas Stretch
The psoas is a hip flexor, but it attaches to the front of the lumbar spine. When you sit all day, this muscle gets tight and pulls on the front of your spine, aggravating your low back. You should feel this stretch up in your hip flexor, not your quadriceps muscle. If you feel it through the quadriceps, move your front foot forward while keeping your back upright. Make sure your front knee doesn't go in front of your toe. Hold for 15 seconds for 2 repetitions on each side.
4. Cat Cow
A great stretch from the yoga world that creates mobility through the low back muscles and hips. Keep your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Hold each position for 3 seconds for 10 repetitions.
5. Hip Roll
A similar movement to the Cat Cow, this creates mobility through the low back and hips. Arch your back and press your belly button into the ground. Hold each position for 3 seconds for 10 repetitions.
6. Prone Press-Up
This is the best stretch specifically for the low back as long as you perform it correctly. The key is to keep the muscles of your low back relaxed during the entire stretch. Start with your hands flat in a push-up position and push your upper body off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds for 10 repetitions.