Lower back pain affects more than 26 million Americans between the ages of 20 and 64, so it is a serious problem that needs to be properly addressed. Modern lifestyles are generally sedentary, and this causes tightness and pain in the shoulders and weakens the lower back, abdominals, and glutes.
The psoas is the deepest flexor in the body, which is directly linked to the lumbar spine, and if tight, it causes stiffness, aches, and hip pain. Fortunately, you can relieve hip and lower back pain in a completely natural way, by using the beneficial effects of stretching.
The Mayo Clinic lists the top five benefits of stretching:
Increased flexibility and joint range of motion: Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance. Tasks such as lifting packages, bending to tie your shoes or hurrying to catch a bus become easier and less tiring. Flexibility tends to diminish as you get older, but you can regain and maintain it.
Improved circulation: Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. Improved circulation can help shorten your recovery time if you’ve had any muscle injuries.
Better posture: Frequent stretching can help keep your muscles from getting tight, allowing you to maintain proper posture. Good posture can minimize discomfort and keep aches and pains at a minimum.
Stress relief: Stretching relaxes tight, tense muscles that often accompany stress.
Enhanced coordination: Maintaining the full range-of-motion through your joints keeps you in better balance. Coordination and balance will help keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls, especially as you get older.
These are the best stretching exercises you can perform:
Start on all fours, with the toes together and the knees open wide towards the outside. Sit back on the heels, walk with the hands towards outside, and try to touch the floor with the forehead while the hands are stretched. Start walking with the hands even further, but keep the arms straight. Relax, and hold for half a minute.
Lying on the ground on the back, bend the knees and place the feet on the floor. Bend the left knee and put the left ankle over the right knee. Then, put the hand between the legs and grab the other one behind the right leg.
Hold the shoulders and head on the floor, and draw the right thigh towards you. Hold for a minute and repeat with the other leg.
Lay down on the back, bend the knees and bring them to your chest. Try to reach and grab the toes or ankles with the arms, while pressing the floor with the back. Hold for half a minute.
While sitting on the floor with the knees bent and the feet on the ground, place the right heel close to the left sit bone and cross the other leg over it. Place a hand on the floor for support, and the elbow of the other hand on the top knee, and push in order to twist the upper body.
Be gentle and breathe deeply. The back should be straight. Hold for half a minute, and repeat with the other leg.
Start on all fours, step the left foot outside of the left hand, with the toe a bit further upfront from the knee. The right knee should be on the floor and both hands inside of the left hand. Start pressing towards the floor with the hips, hold for half a minute, and repeat with the other leg.
Lay down on the back, with the feet on the ground, hip-width apart, and the knees bent. Bend the left knee and place the left one above it, and place the arms on the sides in order to form a cactus-like shape.
The feet should be flexed, the knees slightly falling to the left, and the left ankle over the right thigh, in order to be able to twist your body. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Stand tall with the feet wider than hip-width, the heels are in and the toes facing outwards, making a 45-degree angle. Go down a bit like when doing a squat, put the hands on the thighs right above the knees, and add pressure on your thighs to open up your muscles. Hold for 30 seconds.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Stand tall with the feet wider than the hips and the toes pointed straight. Bend the knees as you go down with the torso in order to bring the hands on the ground.
The knees should be slightly bent, and the head hanging freely. Let the weight of your body stretch your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. Hold for half a minute, and then use the arms to come back straight.
Cow Face Legs
Sit down on the floor, bend one knee and place it on top of the other bend knee, and press the ground with the sit bones on the butt. Straighten the back while breathing deeply, place the hands on the side, and hold for 30 seconds.
In order to reap the benefits of stretching and avoid injuries, you need to follow these tips for proper stretching recommended By Laura Inverarity, DO, a board-certified anesthesiologist and physical therapy expert:
Warm up first: Stretching muscles when they’re cold increases your risk of pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes.
Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds: It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds—and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. That can seem like a long time, so wear a watch or keep an eye on the clock to make sure you’re holding your stretches long enough. For most of your muscle groups, if you hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds, you’ll need to do each stretch only once.
Don’t bounce: Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears (microtears) in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. The scar tissue tightens the muscle even further, making you even less flexible—and more prone to pain.
- Focus on a pain-free stretch: If you feel pain as you stretch, you’ve gone too far. Back off to the point where you don’t feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
- Relax and breathe freely: Don’t hold your breath while you’re stretching.
- Stretch both sides: Make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body
- Stretch before and after activity: Light stretching after your warm-up followed by a more thorough stretching regimen after your workout is your best bet
Try these easy stretches and perform them regularly say goodbye to the pain in the lower back and the hips for good!