Remember my post dated March 18, 2015 on “Inactivity”? If you don’t, I suggest that you re-read it, and you might find the answer to your lower back pain problems.
It is now suggested that one should not sit for more than 3 hours THE WHOLE DAY; that’s a bit difficult to do, for most of us. However, if you do 4 body squats every 15-20 minutes you will minimize the damage.
My wife noticed that after I have my Turkish coffee, when I stand up I seem to stoop over a bit. The reason is my posture while enjoying the coffee; I seem to bend forward.
So it’s not only inactivity, but also posture that can lead to lower back problems.
As a general rule, don’t lie down if you can sit, and don’t sit if you can stand for your general health and posture.
About 10-15 years ago I ended up with a herniated disk while doing a heavy deadlift. I had an excellent physiotherapist and haven’t experienced anything since. His advice that I remember is that the only reason one should lie down is to sleep. I try to adhere to his advice but not 100 % of the time, I’m afraid.
Stretching is a very common practice that people employ to regain their lower back “health”, and I’m going to share with you a simple, and efficient set of 7 stretches that you can do in just 7 minutes.
The stretches flow from one to the other and thoroughly stretch out every inch of your lower back. I strongly suggest that you give it a try.
- Floor Hamstrings
Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet on the floor. Then raise one leg upwards and reach behind your hamstring with both hands to feel a stretch through the back of your leg. Hold for 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Don’t worry if your leg isn’t straight, your flexibility will improve as you go.
- Knees to Chest
Still on your back, hold each knee to your chest one at a time and hold for 30 seconds. To avoid putting stress on your knees, put your hands behind your knee rather than on top. You should feel the stretch through your lower back and glutes.
- Piriformis Stretch
This is similar to the previous stretch but with your opposite leg crossed over. So cross one leg over the other so your ankle is just passed your knee. Now, gently pull the knee toward your head and hold for 30 seconds. Then switch legs.
You should feel the stretch in your glutes, especially in the leg that is crossed over.
- Spinal Stretch
For this exercise, you keep your shoulders flat on the floor while crossing one leg over the other, and attempting to lower your knee to the floor. You can place your opposite hand on top of your knee, and ever so gently stretch it farther for 30 seconds. Then switch.
You should feel the stretch in your lower back, especially toward the sides.
- Lying Down Quadriceps
You’ve probably performed this exercise standing up before, but doing it lying down helps you to get a better stretch because you don’t have to worry about losing your balance.
A short note: I see people doing this all the time in the gym before resistance training (other stretches also). This is very dangerous and could lead to injury. You warm up, do your lifting AND THEN STRETCH.
Just lie on your side, grab your leg just below the ankle, and gently pull it toward your butt for 30 seconds. Then switch.
You should feel the stretch in your quads.
- Hip Flexors
To perform this stretch get up on one knee, place both hands just above your knee and gently stretch forward for 30 seconds. Then switch legs.
You should feel the stretch through your hips and legs, and remember to keep your back straight.
- Total Back Stretch
Finally, rise to a standing position and find a table or counter about the height of your waist to hold onto. Lean forward and feel the stretch through your entire back. Hold for 30 seconds, then shake it out, and then repeat for another 30 seconds.
Check with your doctor before carrying out any of the above exercises.
Give it a try.
See you all next week.