There are many reasons why you may feel discomfort or tension in the lower back. It could be the result of an injury, or strain, of course and if it is persistent then it is a good idea to seek medical advice. However our lifestyles also promote poor spine health and this can result is lower back stress. For example, long hours spent sitting at a desk or on our feet can cause the lower back muscles to become stiff. Tightness in the lower back can also result from the body over-compensating for an issue elsewhere in the body. For example tight glutes and hamstrings. Gentle, daily stretches can help to alleviate this tension. Try these easy poses:
Cat and Cow pose
This simple, rolling movement through the spine stretches the hips and the whole spine.
Start on your hands and knees with your wrists sucked underneath shoulders and knees in line with your hips. While inhaling, drop your belly and lift your chest and tailbone towards the ceiling, and while exhaling, arch your back, pressing through the shoulder blades and dropping your head. Continue according to the rhythm of your breath for 6-8 slow rounds
Downward Facing Dog
This is a great pose for lengthening and decompressing the entire spine. It stretches the hamstrings as well, which will also help with lower back issues.
Come in to it from child’s pose, tuck your toes under and lift your knees off the mat. Engage your core, push into both hands, keeping your arms straight and rise to Downward Facing Dog lifting your tailbone up and back. Keep a bend in the knees to release the hamstrings and send the heels towards the floor. Keep the lower ribs drawn in and head inline with the arms as you gaze towards your navel. Draw the shoulder blades towards the spine and actively try to lower them, rotating your upper arms outwards. Stay for 5 breaths.
Sphinx is a great pose for toning the spine and promoting a natural.curvature of the lower back. When we sit a lot the lower back tends to flatten and this can lead to pain.
Start by laying on your stomach, feet hip-width apart, and bring the elbows under the shoulders lifting your chest forward and up, chin parallel to the floor. You should feel compression in the lower back. If there is too much pressure on your lower back, you can bring your elbows slightly forward.
If you want a deeper bend, place a block under the elbows. Hold the pose for 1-3 minutes, and come out by first lowering your upper body on to the floor then bring your right knee into your body and gaze towards that knee as a counter posture to release the spine.
This pose stretches the hips, outer thighs, lower back and spine. It's also a milder, modified version of upright Pigeon pose. Stretching out the hips can help relieve tension in the lower back which can over compensate from tightness in the hips and glutes.
To start, lay on the floor, and bring the soles of the feet on the ground, feet hip-distance apart. Place your right ankle on the left thigh, and keep the foot flexed throughout the pose. Take your right arm in between the space of the legs, and the left arm outside the left thigh. Interlace the fingers either behind your knee, or on top of the shin, depending on the space available to you. Draw the leg gently towards the face until you feel the sensation in the hip and IT band, keeping the knee in the centre line. Allow the back and shoulders to relax. Stay anywhere between 1-3 minutes and change sides.
Reclined Spine Twist
A twist to the spine is great for relieving tension for the entire back, as well as the neck. A reclined twist also primes the body for relaxation.
Lay on your back, bring your arms to a T-shape on the floor, and bring your knees towards your chest. Slowly lower both knees to the left, keeping both shoulders on the floor and the neck or turning the gaze away from the knees.
You could keep a hand on the top knee to help the knees sink towards the floor, or place a block or blanket under the knees if the knees don’t comfortably rest on the mat. Stay anywhere between 1-4 minutes, and repeat on the other side.
Use these postures to give your lower spine some love - enjoy!
Helena and Becky