If you have an achy, stiff lower back, we can promise you-you’re not alone! It is estimated that 90% of all adults will experience lower back pain at some time in their lives. It is one of the most frequent causes of doctor visits and something we see lots of in the clinic.
Back pain can have a number of different causes. Occasionally, a single event such as picking up a heavy box or twisting awkwardly can be the cause of pain. Often, back pain starts over time and has an unknown cause.
Here are 5 of our favourite exercises to help bullet-proof your lower back from pain and stiffness:
1/ Cat-Cow Stretch
- Kneel down on your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips and hands directly under your shoulders. Tuck your chin gently.
- Tilt your pelvis forwards to arch your lower back as much as possible.
- Next, come back to neutral and tilt your pelvis backwards to round the lower back, tucking your pelvis under.
- Alternate between these 2 positions.
- The movement should come only from the pelvis and lower back, not by arching and be rounding your upper back.
- Repeat 2 sets of 10 repetitions, holding each 3-5 seconds.
Piriformis and Glut Stretch
- Lie on your back, lift your leg to your chest, and grab your knee with your opposite hand.
- Gently pull your leg across your chest to the opposite shoulder until a stretch is felt deep in the buttocks and let your foot hang over the straight leg.
- Keep your pelvis in contact with the floor by applying pressure with the other hand.
- Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 3 times for each side.
Iliopsoas and Hip Flexor Stretch
- Start in a lunge position on one knee.
- Both knees should be bent about 90* and your chest up.
- Using your back leg, tighten your gluts to gently transfer your pelvis forward while keeping your upper body upright.
- A gentle stretch should be felt across the front of your hip.
- Hold the contraction and stretch for 10 seconds and repeat 1 set of 10 repetitions for each side.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent greater than 90 degrees.
- Push your shoulders back and down against the floor.
- Push through your heels to lift your bottom off the floor.
- Avoid arching your back.
- Hold for 2-3 seconds, and slowly return to the start position.
- Complete 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Start on all fours, then prop yourself up on your forearms and toes, with your chin tucked in.
- Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders and hands apart with your palms on the ground.
- Lift your body, by engaging your abdominals, shoulders, and hips creating a straight or slightly concave line with your body.
- Maintain the position for 10-15 seconds and complete 2 sets of 5 repetitions.
- If you find this position difficult, try a modified position on your knees instead of your toes.
Now keep in mind no two lower back pain cases are identical and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next. What we know for certain is that movement and exercise are consistently one of the best treatments for back pain, so these exercises should be a great place to start.