Stretches To Help Lower Back Pain


Stretching is important if you have low back pain. If a muscle has become shortened it can pull the spine out of alignment and contribute to back pain. To help relieve the pain the muscle can be lengthened with stretching exercises. This will also help the general mobility of the joints in the spine.

Knowing what is causing the low back pain will determine which exercise is appropriate.


Stretches for Sacoiliac joint pain


The sacroiliac (SI) joints at the base of our lower backs are a site that can become injured. If an SI joint becomes inflamed it can irritate part of the sciatic nerve that runs directly in front of the joint. This can cause pain to then travel down the leg as well as in the lower back. Part of the treatment to restore normality to the area and alleviate the irritation from the sciatic nerve, is to perform stretching exercises to restore the normal range of motion. Three exercises that can be helpful are:


Single knee to chest stretch



Lay on back. Pull one knee towards the chest. Gently pump the knee at the chest three or four times. Lower then repeat five times on each leg.

This exercise is suitable if you wish to flex (forward bend) the spine. This can help relieve pain in conditions such as arthritis (OA) where the degeneration has lead to narrowing of the spinal nerve roots. It can also be helpful when the pain is from some sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD)


Other SIJD is helped by extending (back bending) the spine. Pain from some disc injuries can also be helped by extension exercise. An exercise for this would be the peel back strech.




The Peel Back Extension Stretch


Keep the pelvic bones in contact with the floor at all times. As soon peel_back_exercise_Osteopathyas you feel tension in your lower back you should not straighten the arms any further.

Lay face down with your arms at your side and the elbows at 90 degrees. Tuck your tailbone in to protect the lower back. Look down and tuck the chin in. Start lifting the head and chest from the floor by straightening the arms. Think of the movement as peeling the face from the floor the then the chest, ribcage and lastly navel if you can without the pelvic bones lifting or the lower back tensing. Hold then slowly lower repeat 3 times.

The Knee roll


This exercise stretches the lower back in rotation, it is also helpful for SIJ pain.

Lay on the back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. Let the knees roll from side to side. The back should not lift off the floor too much. Keep the movement controlled do not bounce or jerk the roll. Repeat 5 times.






Piriformis Syndrome


The piriformis is a muscle that passes very close to the sciatic nerve. If the piriformis muscle is tense or inflamed it can irritate the sciatic nerve. This can lead to sciatic like leg pain, tingling or numbness from the lower back and sometimes down the back of the leg to the foot.

Stretching the piriformis muscle usually helps relieve the pain. If the muscle is stretched a few times a day, especially when combined with hamstring stretches, it can prevent tightening of the lower back and relieve tension down the leg.


Piriformis Stretches


Piriformis_strech_Osteopathy1. Lie on your back, legs flat. Raise thePiriformis_stretch_2_Osteopathy  affected leg and place that foot on    the floor outside the opposite knee. Pull the knee of the bent leg directly across the midline of the body using the opposite hand or pull a towel wrapped round the knee if needed, until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then slowly lower. Aim to repeat 3 times.


2. Lie on your back, knees bent. Cross the affected leg over the other knee. Gently pull the lower knee up towards the shoulder on the same side of the body until a stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds, then lower slowly. Aim to repeat 3 times.



For back pain (and sciatica) caused by disc degeneration or arthritis of the lower back find the position your back is most comfortable in, (spine slightly bent forwards or back) and strengthen the back to hold that posture during activity. This is called dynamic lumbar stabilisation. It will reduce excessive movement between the joints of the spine and teach the muscles to react quicker (which often prevents alot of injuries). With the spine stabilised pain will be reduced because the nerve irritation is reduced and the spine is protected which helps prevent further damage.