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10 Dynamic Back Stretches for Lower Back Pain

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The affliction of lower back pain is a common one amongst youths, adults, athletes, and anyone in between. Since your lower back can take a beating, it needs some tender, loving care to function the way you want it to. 

Yet, the key to unlocking your lower back’s function is with dynamic back stretches, as opposed to static stretching. 

Stretching for Lower Back Pain

Stretching exercises are one of the best techniques you can use to help eliminate lower back pain. Often when you suffer from lower back pain, you can have rigidity in your spine and/or tightness in your hips that prevents your lower back from moving freely and comfortably. This is why you may even have lower back pain when you cough.

Your lower back, also known as your lumbar spine, sits directly on top of your pelvis. And since it is physically impossible to functionally separate the pelvis from the hips, your lower back is at mercy of your hips. This means that most lower back pain is not caused directly by the lower back, and stretching exercises are important to keep the hips loose. This ensures you do not overuse your lower back muscles and increase muscle tightness.

What is Static Stretching?

Static stretching has a significant distinction from dynamic stretching. Static stretching indicates how much range of motion you have, but does not work to increase range of motion while stretching.To perform static back stretches, you will hold a lengthened position for twenty to thirty seconds without movement. 

What is Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching specifies actively moving a limb through full range of motion. Since dynamic stretching incorporates controlled movement, range of motion can be increased through each repetition. 

Dynamic Stretching Benefits

Dynamic stretches provide 3 essential benefits:

  1. Increased Circulation - Dynamic stretches can loosen up muscles more efficiently, promoting blood flow to muscles and joints. 
  2. Injury Prevention - Improved range of motion can aid in preventing acute and chronic injuries
  3. Improved Performance - Preparing your body for any demands you require can support your effectiveness in sport and life 

Dynamic Back Stretches to Try

So, how do you get started with lower back dynamic stretches? And how do you know what dynamic back stretches to do? These 10 stretches for lower back pain will get you ready to conquer your injury woes. 

10. Cat Cow Stretch

Cat-Cow Pose is one of the best dynamic back stretches, since the combination of flexion and extension of the thoracic spine provides more space for the lower back to move. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Come onto all fours with hands placed underneath shoulders and knees underneath the hips. 
  2. On an inhale, drop your belly towards the ground and arch your spine lifting your chin off your chest for cow pose. 
  3. On an exhale, push into your hands to round your back, spreading your shoulder blades wie and tucking your chin to your chest. 
  4. Repeat 5-10 breaths.

9. Active Hang

The active hang requires the use of a pull-up bar, as well as a strong grip. Nevertheless, it can decompress the shoulders and spine, as well as promoting length and pliability. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start by grabbing a pull up bar with both hands and hang, feet off the floor and arms straight.
  2. Then, squeeze and retract your shoulder blades to slightly pull yourself up. Don’t bend at your arms though.
  3. Next, return back to the active hang position with your shoulders relaxed.
  4. Repeat 10x 

8. Kneeling Hip Flexor

Your front hip flexors are generally one of the tightest muscles on your body, due to sitting for extended periods of time in a flexed, shortened position. The kneeling hip flexor stretch can counteract that tightness without experiencing the difficulty of a standing stretch.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start in a half kneel position, with your right leg upright and your left leg down.
  2. Then, squeeze your left glute and start to push and lunge your left hip so that your right knee is moving forward past your toes.
  3. Hold at your end range of motion, then return to neutral starting position and repeat 10x before you switch sides
  4. For a deeper stretch, tuck your toes on your back leg for an active foot. 
  5. For an even deeper stretch, raise your right arm straight overhead while you push the hips forward through the stretch. 

7. Lat Stretch

If the lat muscles are tight, your body will often compensate by extending and/or rotating your spine to make up for the lack of range of motion. This creates vulnerability in your lower back, especially with any activity that requires high velocity movements in the overhead position, such as tennis. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Standing shoulder width apart, With your right hand, grab a sturdy object (e.g. door frame, pole, etc.) that’s above your shoulder height and in front of you 
  2. Then, maintaining a firm grip, step back and hinge your hips and stick your butt back, so your right arm is straight and your back is also straight
  3. Now, rotate your sternum and torso so that you are trying to peek under your right arm.
  4. Return to neutral starting position and repeat 10x, then switch sides.

6. Knee Twists

Knee twists can reduce tightness in your thoracic spine, which directly affects your lumbar spine. Since your whole spine needs freedom of movement to prevent injury, this stretch is great because it emphasizes mobility in rotation.

Here are the steps:

  1. Lay on your back and bring both knees into your chest in a reverse tabletop position. Let both arms extend wide out to each side.
  2. Then, while maintaining arm contact with the ground, and knees maintaining a 90 degree flexion, guide both legs to the right side of your body.
  3. Once the right knee hits the ground, return to the starting reverse tabletop position and guide both legs to the left side of your body until the left knee hits the ground. 
  4. Keep alternating between sides for 10 repetitions each side. 

5. Standing Bicycle

Standing bicycle requires more balance and coordination than other dynamic stretches, but the combination of spinal motion and hip movement make dynamic stretching for the back superior over static back stretches.

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing with your hands behind your head and your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Now, raise your right knee up to your waist and start to twist your torso so that your left elbow makes contact with your right knee.
  3. Then, rotate your torso back to the starting neutral position.
  4. After that, raise your left knee up to your waist and start to twist your torso so that your right elbow makes contact with your left knee.
  5. Keep switching sides and repeat 10x each side. 

4. Lying Figure 4 

The muscles in the lateral (outside) hip also need attention if you want to eliminate lower back pain. Lying Figure 4 is able to target your outside hip muscles, such as your piriformis, to help increase mobility in the hips, and subsequently, your lower back. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor
  2. Now, cross your left ankle over your right knee, so your left shin is perpendicular to your right thigh. Keep your right foot flexed.
  3. Then, lift your right foot off the ground and interlace your hands under your right thigh, bringing your right knee towards your chest. 
  4. To get a deeper stretch, use your hands to pull the knee closer.

3. Toe Touch Overhead Reach

The toe touch overhead reach utilizes your entire posterior chain to help loosen up your lower back. Your posterior (back side) chain, includes your back, glutes, and hamstrings. Since modern life has most of us anterior (front) dominant, these muscles functionally work together to maintain posture and reduce injury risk. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Start standing upright with your arms straight up overhead, feet shoulder width. 
  2. Then, hinge at the hips and start to bend forward to touch your toes. Make sure you are bending from the waist first, before bending from your spine.
  3. Next, rise up into a tall standing position, reaching your arms back overhead. 
  4. This time, as you reach overhead, bump your hips slightly forward and lean back to create some spinal extension.
  5. Repeat the cycle 10x 

2. Half Cobra Pose

Dynamic back stretches that continue to open up the spine in extension are valuable when dealing with lower back pain. With Half Cobra pose, you can extend the spine while also getting a good front-side ab stretch, which also makes this one of the better exercises for tailbone pain

Here are the steps:

  1. Lay prone on your stomach. 
  2. Next, place your forearms on the mat so elbows are directly underneath your shoulders. Lay hands face down onto the mat.
  3. After that, lift your chest and head up and pull your chest and chin forward and up while maintaining forearm contact with the ground. 
  4. Return to neutral position and then repeat 10x

1. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is considered a resting posture, but its ability to elongate the spine is one of the keys to relieving lower back pain. The positioning of your arms relative to your spine and hips helps decompress the spine and promote flexibility. 

Here are the steps:

  1. From all fours, bring your knees slightly wider than hips, nearly mat distance apart. 
  2. Keeping big toes to touch, push your bum towards your feet. 
  3. Keeping your hips back, begin to lower your chest, head and shoulders to the mat. 
  4. Then, forehead releases to the mat and arms stretched long forward. 
  5. Hold for a breath, then return to neutral on all fours, and repeat the stretch 10x.

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