4 Easy Stretches To Relieve Lower Back Pain

If you live with lower back pain, you are not alone. According to the data, as many as four out of five individuals develop lower back pain at some point in their lives. Though certain risk factors — such as age, weight and occupation — may increase a person’s risk of developing pain in the lumbar region of the spine, the numbers suggest that almost everyone will experience it at some point.

Lower back pain can damper your quality of life, making it difficult for you to walk, much less enjoy the activities you love. The good news is that you can find relief with a few simple, at-home stretches. Below are four stretches that are effective at loosening up and strengthening the muscles in the lumbar region of your spine.

1. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is one of the easiest and most effective stretches for relieving pain in the lower back. To perform the child’s pose, get on your hands and knees, with your palms flat on the floor. From there, extend your hands forward and slowly bring your head to your chest while dropping your hips to your heels. At this point, the inside of your elbows should be touching your ears. Lay in this position for anywhere from 20 seconds to one minute at a time.

Place a pillow beneath your belly if the position causes too much pain. In this way, you can still open up your lower back muscles but without causing too much strain on them.

2. Supine Twist

Whereas the child’s pose opens up the entire lower back for stretching, the supine twist focuses on one half of the back at a time. It also helps to stretch the glutes, which, if tight, may be contributing to your lower back pain.

To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor. Extend your arms into a “T” position and one leg outward. Then, keeping your shoulders on the ground, slowly twist your raised knee, touching the floor on the other side of the other leg. Lay there for 20 to 30 seconds, then rotate. Repeat two to three times.

3. Cat/Cow Stretch

The cat/cow pose may seem simple enough, but it’s a dynamic stretch that pulls the lower back muscles in two different directions. Doing so helps to lengthen the muscles along the lower spine and, in the process, alleviate soreness.

To perform this pose, start in the tabletop position with your spine parallel to the ground. Then, pull your back up so it’s rounded, like a cat arching its back. Hold for five to 10 seconds, then pull your back in so it’s arched toward the ground. Hold again for five to 10 seconds. Repeat as many times as needed.

4. Knee-to-Chest Stretch

As with the other stretches on this list, the knee-to-chest stretch lengthens the muscles along the lower back. To perform this stretch, lie on your back and pull your bent knees to your chest. If you need to feel more of a burn, try rocking your hips side to side or pulling your hips downward while you hold your knees to your chest. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then lower your legs back to the ground and repeat.

If you experience lower back pain, give these four stretches a try. If the issue is minor, you should experience relief almost immediately.

6 Tips for Avoiding Back Pain in the Car

Back pain is a common problem for people who drive long distances. Sitting in the same position for so long tires out the muscles that are supposed to keep your spine aligned. When these muscles spasm, it feels like an electric current coursing through your back. Bad posture can put pressure on sensitive nerves, triggering sharp pain or persistent throbbing. Follow these six simple tips to enjoy your next road trip a lot more.

1. Rest Your Feet

The more comfortable your lower body, the better it is for your back muscles. When you’re driving down the highway, put on cruise control, put both feet on the floor evenly and let them rest. It’s OK to be alert and stretch your legs out at the same time.

2. Create a Slouch-Free Driver’s Seat

Avoiding slouching is easier than you think. Just customize the driver’s side, so it’s naturally good for your back:

  • Pick a good seat angle: A common misconception is that good posture means a completely vertical driver’s seat. In reality, the best seat angle for natural spine alignment is 100–110 degrees. That means you should lean your seat back a little.
  • Find a comfortable distance: If you normally sit too far away from the steering wheel, it’s tempting to slouch forward, which hurts your neck, shoulders and back. On the other hand, sitting too close to the pedals makes your knees feel squeezed in. At the right distance, your knees should comfortably rest at the same height as your hips, and you shouldn’t need to stretch forward to drive.
  • Nudge the seat with your lower back: Now that your seat angle and distance are right, the rest is easy. Let your seat do its job of supporting your spine by pressing your lower back against it.
  • Use the headrest correctly: Give your neck a rest. Position the headrest so the back of your head naturally hits the middle of it. Keep your looking straight ahead. You shouldn’t need to lay your head back.

3. Carry Your Wallet in Your Front Pocket

Do you remember the story of the princess and the pea? Anything in your back pocket can throw off the alignment of your spine and strain your muscles. Sitting on a thick wallet for hours is the worst.

4. Support Your Lower Back

Lumbar support encourages your spine to follow a healthy curvature. Some vehicle trims include front seats with great lumbar support. If yours doesn’t, it’s easy to improvise. Roll up a towel and place it behind your back at belt level.

5. Take More Driving Breaks

Drive-throughs aren’t your friends. If possible, stop for 15–20 minutes at least every two or three hours. Get out, use the bathroom, do some warmup stretches, walk around and eat something healthy. It may take an extra half-hour to reach your destination, but you’ll enjoy the whole trip a lot more.

6. Strengthen Your Core Muscles

One of the best ways to prevent lower back pain is to go on the offensive. Working out is good for your body for so many reasons, but fighting off back pain is a big one. When your abdominal muscles are in great shape, they give your spine more support.

Taking care of your lower back mostly involves giving those muscles a break. Without pain, life feels like an open road.