Back pain: Stretches for the lower back

Dr Daniel Irvine from Irvine Chiropractic shows us how to reduce lower back pain with stretching.  The transcript for the video can be found below:

Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of the Relax For Life Wellness Channel. I’m Doctor Daniel Irvine, Chiropractor in the local area here in Mortdale and also over at Parramatta. Today, what we are going to be talking to you about is one of the most common things that I get asked about and that is what can I do for my back pain? I am going to show you a few essential stretches that are what I would recommend for back pain. I want to start off by saying that no one’s back pain is the same. Everyone’s back pain is going to come from different structures, different sources so you really do need to get a firm diagnosis before you go ahead with these stretches. But either way, these stretches are going to help you feel a little bit more mobile in the lower back region and hopefully help you alleviate some of that stress and deal with your aches and pains in that lower back region. So, I always tell my patients that anything attaching to the pelvis or the lower back needs to be stretched. Now that doesn’t go for every muscle in that area, but there is about four key muscles that we want to stretch that attaches in that area. I’ll just name them for you first of all. Firstly, there are the hamstrings at the back of the thighs here. Now that attaches here up into the bottom area of your pelvis and you need to stretch these daily because they get tight every time you sit down, exercise or workout at the gym. Your hip flexors, that do this movement to your body [e.g. they help raise your knee and leg] they also attach into the lumbar spine, so we need to stretch them a lot.

The other muscles that work around this area are the glutes. The big butt muscles that we use when we squat, when we run, we walk. They get ultra-tight in most people, so they need to be stretched also. And the last muscle group there is going to be in the lower back, the erector spinae muscles. Now they are the hardest one to stretch because they are the most dangerous, because they involve rotation, but I will show you a generally safe and easy way to mobilise that area now. First things first, hamstrings, a really safe and effective way for most people to stretch these muscles is to just place your heel up onto a bench, a chair or just whatever you have got around the area and hold. With all of these stretches, what I want you to do is just take it to a point where you feel a gentle stretch, and just hold. Don’t force it, work your way into a more forceful stretch later when you are exercising and working out with the help of a practitioner. But, what I want you to do is to take it gently, 30 seconds hold it, then switch sides to your other leg. Hold it, toe up, hold that position. You don’t need to reach down or bend or bounce or any of that crazy stuff. I’ll get you to feel the stretch, hold it and then alternate legs. Two times each leg, each side will do the job there.

The next stretch can be done many ways. The best way that I know, the safest and easiest way to stretch the gluteal muscles is [while sitting,] you just put your leg into a crossed position if you can with your knees. If you can’t, we will work out a better way for you one day, and then lean forward. Really, put in that position you will feel the gluteal muscles stretching, put a leg forward if you want an increase the stretch and you will feel the glutes stretch again. Hold for 30 seconds, right, left, alternate, two each side. The next group of muscles we mentioned here were the hip flexor muscles. These are a really hard group of muscles to stretch effectively. We can release them, and we will do that in another video, later down the track. But to stretch them, again they are a big muscle group so this one I want you to hold for up to a minute each side and we are going to alternate. I will just switch sides here. So, what I want you to see here is the lower back, so that this hip should be in an extended position slightly behind my body. Bring this toe forward so that we can keep a lunge over that knee and keep the body in a nice alignment stretching forward. Ok, so an advanced version of this, slip your shoe off, so you don’t wreck the wall, is to bring the foot forward, one leg up [against the wall] and stretch forward. Now this is an advanced stretch as I mentioned called the crouch stretch so only do this if you have been doing the other two stretches for a good month or two. This opening up of the quadriceps muscle that attaches into the hips will also open up that hip flexor region.

Ok, so, for these ones, just hold for a bit longer, a minute each side or slightly less, slightly longer if you are more advanced with it. But work on two for each side for that muscle group. The last stretch that I want to show you is for the erector spinae muscles, these ones are the ones that attach into the lower back and they go all the way up the back. Now, this is not really a stretch but it’s a mobilisation, and [while lying on your back on the floor] I want you to grab your knees pull them up to your tummy and just gently rock [backwards and forwards.] Anyone with back pain, I get them to do this every morning in bed, before they get out and it helps them a lot to get up and move and frees them up. So, I hope that these stretches help you they have definitely helped me and my patients that I give them to. We will put some notes down on the specifics of these stretches below, give them a try, and let me know how you go.

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