How to Stretch Your Lower Back to Relieve Pain From Sitting

If you feel like everyone you know has complained about tightness or stiffness in their lower back, you’re not just imagining the widespread issue. “About 80 percent of people experience low back pain and about half of those people spend most of their day sitting,” says physical therapist Daniel Giordano, DPT, PT, CSCS. “Back pain can also result from overstress, overuse, poor form during exercise, being overweight, stress, or other medical conditions.”

In this installation of “The Fix,” Giordano is joined by Cameron Yuen, DPT, PT, CSCS to break down exactly how to relieve yourself from lower back pain in a series of simple movements. All you’ll need is a foam roller and some space on the floor to stretch out.

Check out the video for illustration of all six exercises, and for fuller verbal cues and tips to do them all the right way.

6 Stretches to Relieve Lower Back Pain

Glute foam roll

Grab a foam roller and start on your right glute first, slightly bending your weight to the right and roll back and forth and side to side. This will help to increase blood flow and relax tissue a bit. If you feel any pain, move side to side to see if that helps. Repeat on the other side.

Quad foam rolling

Flip over onto your stomach and place the foam roller right underneath your quad muscle. Again, this helps to increase blood flow to the area. Be sure to move side to side as well as up and down as in the last exercise. Repeat on the other leg.

Lumbar windshield

“So after the soft tissue work, we’re going to work on mobility of the joint. We want to make sure that the joint is fully moving through its proper range of motion” to avoid excessive load on the lower back, explains Giordano. Go into the bridge position lying flat on the ground with your knees shoulder-width apart and your feet a bit wider than that. Drop your knees side to side. If you feel any sort of pain while you swivel from side to side, don’t try to push farther than that range. Do this eight times on each side.

Cat Cow Stretch

“We want to make sure that the spine is moving properly and safely,” says Giordano. Stack your hips over your knees and shoulders over the wrist with your head in a neutral position. Lift your stomach all the way up and tuck your head underneath, and then come down and go into the extension phase and look straight up. Do this about eight times or so to increase the mobility of the spine and ensure everything’s moving properly.

plank

The final segment of this “The Fix” series is a stabilization move so that everything is strong and compressed with no pressure on your lower back. Activate your core by coming into a modified plank position on your knees. Focus on keeping your chest away from the ground slightly. Start by holding for about 15 seconds, gradually working up to 30 and then 45 seconds. You can go into a full plank form here, if you’d like.

Banded bridge

It’s time for some hip activation. Lie on your back and wrap a band right below your knee caps with your feet on the floor. Push through your heels and lift your butt in the air, being careful not to come up too high on your back, stop when there’s a straight line from your knee to your hips to your shoulders. Then drop back down. Do eight to 10 of these, pushing through your heels.

To decrease lower back pain, make sure you’re consistent with this series, spending 20 minutes a day going through the movements.

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