The most overlooked stretches for lower back.
Lower back pain is one of the most common reasons people seek treatment. One common cause of lower back pain is strain on the sacroiliac joint or lumbar facet joints. This can be caused by anterior (forward) tilt of the pelvis which can be coming from tightness in the hip flexors. There are many other factors that can cause lower back pain and also anterior tilt of the pelvis but here we will focus on the hip flexors.
These days most people sit all day and this shortens the hip flexors making them chronically tight.
There are quite a few hip flexors muscles the most notable being Iliacus & Psoas (Iliopsoas), Rectus Femoris, Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL), Sartorius and Pectineus.
Here are some easy and not so easy hip flexor stretches that may help you if you have lower back pain. Always consult your therapist first to see that these will be suitable for you. Some back conditions such as Sponylolysthesis may be aggravated by extreme spinal extension which can occur in some of these hip flexor stretches. As always if it hurts don't do it and seek advice.
Hold stretches for up to 1 minute and perfrom on both sides
This stretch can also be performed standing if placing your knee on the ground is painful. Place a cushion or mat under the back knee to protect it.
Make sure to stay upright and keep your pelvis square on. Tuck the pelvis under as per fig 2 (the drawn image). Lunging forward you should feel the stretch in the front of the back leg and also into the front of the hip. If you dont tuck the pelvis under you may strain your lower back and you also wont stretch the hip flexors.
A variation of this stretch involves placing the back leg up onto a bench or chair or against the wall. Always protect the knee on the ground by using a towel or mat.
An easier version involves lying on your side. Make sure to also tuck the bottom leg up to your chest to stabilise the pelvis.
And now for the more adventurous, flexible and pain free here is a more advanced stretch this will really target those hip flexors.
Sit on the heels and then gradually lower yourself onto each elbow. You can hold here if the stretch is strong enough. The next step is to lower your upper back onto the floor and then relax. You can then stretch the arms above the head for a stronger stretch. When beginning hold for around 30 seconds and then move your weight back to the elbows and then gradually push yourself back out of it. As you get better at it you can hold for up to 2 minutes.
To make any impact with stretching you need to do it often. Try to do at least one of these stretches once per day. The reduced tension on you pelvis will mean less back pain.
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