Lower Back Stretches & Strengthening Exercises
To complement your treatment program at VitaPhysical, we have put together a series of spinal stretches and strengthening exercises.
These exercises and stretches are designed to initially stretch your spine and associated muscles that have become less flexible and then, after you feel more confident at the stretches, begin a spinal strengthening program.
Take it easy to begin with, slowly building up time spent doing the stretches and stop if it hurts – make sure to consult your practitioner if pain persists.
Have fun and remember it may take months or years before you can reverse the years of inflexibility or weakness.
Proper Stretching Technique:
- Perform balanced stretching.This means you should always stretch the muscles on both sides of your body evenly. Don’t stretch one side more than the other side.
- Avoid over-stretching.Never stretch to the point of pain or discomfort. You will feel slight tension or a pull on the muscle at the maximum of the stretch; DO NOT go beyond this point.
- Go slow!Always stretch slowly and evenly. Hold the stretch for 30 – 60 seconds and release slowly as well. Never bounce or jerk while stretching. This can cause injury as the muscle is pushed beyond its ability. All stretches should be smooth, and slow.
- Don’t forget to breathe.Stretching should be relaxing. Deep, easy and even breathing is the key to relaxation. Never hold your breath while you stretch.
Stretch 1: Lumbar Roll
- Lie on your back with your arms stretched out at right angles to your sides with both of your legs straight, as if you’re on a cruciﬁx.
- Keep your arms and shoulders in contact with the floor at all times.
- Bend both knees keeping your feet flat on the floor.
- Keep both knees together and let them drop down to the right side.
- Hold this stretch for 30 – 60 seconds.
- Take your knees back to the starting position and then let the knees drop down to the left side.
- Hold this stretch for 30 – 60 seconds.
Stretch 2: Knee Hugging
- Lie on your back on an exercise mat.
- Bend your right knee up towards your chest, keeping your head and shoulders relaxed on the mat.
- Wrap both hands around the knee and hug it towards your chest.
- Hold for 30 – 60 seconds.
- Relax the leg back down to the floor and repeat with the left knee.
- Next, bend both knees up and wrap your arms around them.
- Hug your knees in towards your chest, remembering to keep your head relaxed down on the floor.
- Hold the stretch for 30 – 60 seconds.
- Relax the legs back down onto the floor.
Stretch 3: Cat Stretch
- Go onto all fours on your exercise mat.
- Align your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips.
- Allow your back to assume its natural position, in a neutral spine.
- Inhale: Arch your back slightly, allowing your head to rise and your bottom to stick up and out.
- Exhale: Pull your navel in toward your spine and squeeze your bottom.
- You begin with a Lumbar C Curve, meaning that your lower back is curved like a C, and then continue rounding into the upper back.
- Finally, allow the head to slowly drop forward. At this point, your whole spine should be making a C shape. Your back should be rounded to the greatest extent possible.
- Push your arms into the mat for extra resistance while stretching the upper back.
- Keep your abdominals and rib cage pulled in. Think of using this pulling action to stretch through your whole spine.
- Think of pulling your tail between your legs and rounding your back.
- Inhale: Return to Neutral Spine, then go further into the arch, sticking your tail and head upward.
- 6 repetitions.
Exercise 1: Kegel Exercise
To make sure you know how to contract your pelvic floor muscles, try to stop the flow of urine while you’re going to the bathroom. If you succeed, you’ve got the basic move.
- Empty your bladder and sit or lie down.
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles.
- Hold the contraction for three seconds then relax for three seconds.
- Repeat 5 times.
- Once you’ve perfected three-second muscle contractions, try it for four seconds at a time, alternating muscle contractions with a four-second rest period.
- Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
- Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks.
- Try not to hold your breath.
Exercise 2: Transversus Contraction
- Start by lying on your back with knees bent.
- Your lower back should be neither arched up nor flattened against the floor, but aligned normally with a small gap between the floor and your back. This is the ‘neutral’ lumbar position you should learn to achieve. Put your hands on the area of your abdomen that would be covered by the front part of a bikini (for women) or briefs (for men).
- For the time being, we shall call this the “bikini patch”.
- Have your thumbs touching at your navel, and your fingers touching at the midline, about 6 cm below the navel.
- Now imagine that you have to zip up a very tight pair of jeans.
- Hollow the area under you thumbs and fingers toward your spine. Your belly button should move towards your spine. There may only be a very small movement. (maintain the neutral lumbar position)
- Now imagine (if it hasn’t already happened), that the area under your fingers is being zipped together like that tight pair of jeans!
- Hold the contraction for 10 seconds and stay relaxed, allowing yourself to breathe in and out as you hold the tension in your lower abdominal area.
- Rest for 10 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
If any of these exercise or stretches aggravate your condition or you are struggling with how to actually do the exercise, please contact Jason or Kirsty at VitaPhysical, who will advise you accordingly.