7 effective moves to help relieve lower back pain now
I have a history of suffering lower back pain ( muscle spasm and nerve pain mostly ), it’s been an arduous and painful journey to get myself back on my feet ( you can read about my experience and what I did to get to the root of the problem here ).
I have this lower back pain because..
a) I ran a couple of marathons pre-kids and didn’t factor in enough stretching ( piriformis! ) and strength training, so the area has become over sensitive, and..
b) after I gave birth to my boys my lack of core strength has probably aggravated the problem further.
I’ve been pain free for about 8 months ( the longest period in over 3 years ) but it’s no surprise I’ve had a set back. These little ( yet heavy ) monkeys consistently jump all over me! This week I was in a hurry, I scooped up our baby boy Cooper ( all 14kgs of him ) and something pinged in that all too familiar place again. The pain I feel is muscle spasm at the lower part of my spine, through both my glutes and sometimes it shoots down my legs to my knees. I have healed myself before ( thanks to the help and advice of my amazing Osteopath Naval Mair! ) and I can do it again. For me, it all starts with a daily consistent stretch routine that focuses on stretching the glutes, piriformis, hip flexors and lower back. While my back is in spasm I can’t run or do any high impact type training that could aggravate it further. So I do this routine 3 times a day for about 3-4 days until the spasm eases. And in between stretching I use ice packs ( 5-10mins ), then change to a hot water bottle ( 5-10mins ). I do this on and off about 4 times throughout the day. I also like to focus on a diet that’s mega rich in anti-inflammatory agents: like tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, nuts like almonds and walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, and fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges. Oh… and the 'occasional' medicinal red wine. ha!
And then after a week, when the pain has mostly gone, I start back into my strength training but still I choose to do this routine at least once per day for a few weeks ( and additional exercises from my other lower back stretch routine ). I try to always incorporate stretches like this into my daily stretch routine to keep on top of it. Forever a work in progress! And yes sometimes I get lazy and complacent.. and if I'm not careful.. then boom! Ouch.
These exercises work for me as I have acute lower back pain caused by muscle spasm. I tend to avoid any movements like forward bends ( eg: downward dog ) as this doesn’t help me. I’d recommend you have your back pain checked out by a professional before trying these stretches.
Note: like yoga, breathe deeply throughout these stretches.
1. Do this first before anything. Lie flat on your stomach, arms down by your sides. Let all the muscles sink into the floor. Let every muscle fully relax. Stay here for 2 mins.
2. Slowly come up on your elbows and look straight ahead. Stay here for 2mins. Lower yourself down for 20 secs and then come up again for 2 more sets of 2mins. 3 sets in total
3. Staying on your stomach, put your hands under your shoulders and slowly push up into Cobra position, straighten arms, shoulders down, relax, eyes forward and closed. This is an intense lower back bend. Stay here for 1-2mins. Repeat for 3 sets. (If you start to feel pain then stop )
4. Glute stretch. Lie on your back. Put one foot over one knee and pull leg towards you slowly, as far as you can go. Hold for 30 secs. Repeat on both legs for 3 sets.
5. Piriformis stretch. Lie flat on your back. Pull one bent knee up and slightly across your body. You should feel a slightly uncomfortable deep stretch. Hold for 30 secs. Repeat on both legs for 3 sets.
6. Childs pose. This feels so good on your lower back. Kneel with knees spread apart, lean forward with arms stretched out, push back into your bottom. Stay here for 1-2mins.
7. Cat cow stretch. On your hands and knees. Hands under shoulders. Start in neutral position, start with cat pose, tuck your tail bone under and vertebra by vertebra draw your tummy in and up, hold for a few seconds, then slowly down and sink into cow pose. Repeat 3-4 times.
I’d love to hear about your back pain and what you do to relieve it? Please share!