Relieving Low Back Pain: Part 2 - Stretching the Spine
In Relieving Low Back Pain Part 1 we took a look at how the pelvis need to be aligned because it is the foundation on which the spine rests. In this post, I give you some passive stretches you can do to lengthen the muscles around the spine itself. The poses should be relatively relaxed as gravity is doing most of the work for you, but if you have a limited range of motion, you may feel some intensity in the stretches. Remember to breath deeply and try to hold each pose anywhere from 10-30 breaths. Just a reminder: if you are dealing with a low back injury or condition be sure to get clearance your doctor of physical therapist before attempting any of these poses.
Supported bridge is a great gentle backbend that passively releases the muscles along the front body, many of which support your spine. Place a block (or pillows or books) under your hips (not your low back) on either the low or medium height. Legs can be bent with feet flat or out long as pictured.
Side stretches release the oblique muscles and all sorts of muscles that move and support the spine. Sometimes these muscles can be chronically tight on one side of your body, throwing you out of alignment. When doing gate pose, be sure to do both sides even if only one side feels tight.
Supine twist is a gentle twist that stretches many muscles that move and support the spine, including ones that are very close to the spine itself. This pose can feel even better with a block or pillow between/under the legs.
This is a gentle forward fold that allows the muscles that hold you up all day to finally let go and relax. Unlike in bound angle pose, the feet should be a few feet in front of the hips and the spine should round gently down. You can rest your head on blocks/pillows stacking them if necessary to create more ease. If accessible, you can also rest your head on your feet.
This forward fold is a little deeper (those with herniated discs be aware) but can be really satisfying for lengthening some of the muscles of the back. Clasp the back of your thighs or hug your arms around your thighs and sink your weight backwards while you round your back.