For those of you suffering from chronic lower back pain, stretching your muscles for 5-10 minutes each day is the fastest way you can start to relieve pain in your body. Whether you practice yoga regularly or not, each individual posture can be used in your stretching routine as stretches for lower back pain relief. After using yoga to help virtually heal my chronic low back pain, I’ve been able to learn which lower back stretches relieve pain in the lower back the most and hope to share them with you.
Long-Term Lower Back Pain Relief Takes Time
You might be surprised to hear that the pain in your lower back is not only caused by weakened lower back muscles. The same muscle groups that are responsible for flexibility are also vitally important for lower back pain relief. If you have chronic back pain from conditions like sciatica then pain on one side of your body means you compensate for that pain in other parts of your body.
I learned that because the pain in the lower left side of my back had gotten so bad, my right hip and left hamstring had gotten extremely tight as a result. A disc in my lower lumbar vertebrae was putting pressure on my sciatic nerve that was so deep and covered with scar tissue that I had to first loosen the rest of my muscles before I was able to put my body in positions that would help dig through to the root cause of the pain.
Although stretching your muscles everyday is a great way to start finding relief from lower back pain, if you want to find long-term relief from chronic lower back pain then you have to go deeper. It would be like trying to fix a cracked windshield by going through a car wash. It’s going to feel good and make it look shiny but it’s not going to fix the crack.
Unfortunately your body isn’t like a windshield that you can just replace at will so it’s going to first take some work buffing through the damage that has built up in your body. Once you break down and heal each layer you will be able to starting working on repairing the root cause of the pain and find long-term relief.
Which Lower Back Stretches Relieve Pain?
If you are stretching in the morning before work or before bed at night, it is important to ease into your stretching routine and only go deeper once your muscles are warm. Foam rolling before stretching is a great way to improve the effectiveness of your stretches and also reduces the risk of injury.
The following stretches can be added to your daily 5-10 minute stretch or, for the best results, after 30-45 minutes of a high-intensity yoga practice like Vinyasa Yoga.
1. Standing Forward Fold
Probably the most simple yet one of the most effective stretches that you will see people doing for lower back pain relief is Standing Forward Fold. Not only does folding forward stretch your hamstrings, if you slightly bend your knees it will release your lower back and allow you to go deeper into the stretch.
Relief tip: While in Standing Forward Fold try to let your head and arms dangle loosely in front of you and release any tension in your neck and shoulders.
2. Baby Tortoise Pose
Similar to the more advanced ‘Tortoise Pose’, Baby Tortoise Pose is a great stretch it you are just starting to practice yoga for lower back pain relief. This pose starts to open up your hips while lengthening and stretching your spine and lower back muscles.
Relief tip: While in baby Tortoise Pose think about lifting your spine up and forward before lowering your forehead towards your feet.
3. Seated Spinal Twist
Another simple but effective stretch for lower back pain relief is the Seated Spinal Twist. This stretch is a good way to start incorporating twists into your routine. Twisting yoga postures help with spinal alignment, flexibility, and rotation while strengthening your core muscles.
Relief tip: While in Seated Spinal Twist focus on straightening your spine first, lengthening the space between your vertebrae, and then twisting your body into the pose.
4. Pigeon Pose
Half-Pigeon Pose is a pose that everyone who has tight hips avoids like the plague but is the most effective stretch to help relieve lower back pain that you can do. Attempting Half-Pigeon Pose is a great way to get a feel of how tight your body actually is and will give you an idea how far along you are in relieving your lower back pain. This pose targets your hip and glute muscles while lengthening and strengthening your lower lumbar vertebrae.
Relief tip: While in Half-Pigeon Pose you want to work towards having your front leg parallel to the top of your mat while your back leg is straight behind you. Your hips should be aligned with your body and your pelvis and back thigh should be working towards the ground.
5. Twisting Crescent Moon Pose
A little more difficult twisting posture but great for targeting your lower back and hip muscles is Twisting Crescent Moon Pose. Another great core strengthener, this twisting pose also requires you to use your balance which is a crucial element to healing chronic lower back pain. Remember you can modify any of these poses when you feel necessary so you get the most out of the stretch.
Relief tip: While in Twisting Crescent Moon Pose focus on pressing your palms into one another and against the outside of your bent knee while using your core to lift your chest off your thigh Work towards shifting your gaze up and to the back right corner of the room while rotating your chest up towards the sky.
6. Extended Triangle Pose
My favorite stretch for my lower back pain, especially when I practice it during my yoga routine when my body is really warmed up, is Extended Triangle Pose. This pose might be difficult at first but once your body gets looser and stronger with practice you will be able to use it to really position your body to what gives you the most relief. At the full expression of this pose your vertebrae are being lengthened and the damage to your lower back muscles, joints, and tissue in-between is being repaired by the heat that your body is producing.
Relief tip: While in Extended Triangle Pose lift through your core so your fingers are barely touching the ground while your arms are in a straight line from the floor to the sky. To go deeper into the pose work to rotate your top arm and chest open and your front hip towards the side wall.
Relieve Lower Back Pain For Good
Once your body starts to loosen up and you are able to go deeper and deeper into these poses you will see your lower back pain start to improve exponentially. Every time that you step onto your mat you are getting stronger and more flexible, no matter how slow it might seem to take if you just started practicing yoga.
As your muscles get stronger and your balance and flexibility improve you will find postures that used to give you a lot of trouble might no longer be an issue anymore. If your practice ever comes to the point where a particular pose feels easy, try going a little deeper into that pose; there is always somewhere new you can take your practice.
Starting a regular yoga practice is the fastest way to incorporate every stretch you’ll ever need to heal your lower back pain. The more advanced your practice becomes the more you will be able to use your body to help relieve your chronic lower back pain for good.
Do you have a favorite stretch that you practice for your lower back pain?
Stick With It!