Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments when it comes to desk-bound individuals and poor posture. Lower back issues are often linked to tight hamstrings and hips, which can be recurrent if you sit for long periods of time or lift heavy weights on a regular basis.
So if you come home with a sore back every evening, try these postures to relieve some of the stiffness and pain. Tip: I find this particularly helpful after a long hot shower to relax and soothe muscles.
The rule of thumb for lower back issues and tight hamstrings is to bend the knees. If you find it uncomfortable and difficult to hold a posture without rounding the lower back, then bend your knees as much as you need to create a flat back and relieve any muscle tension around that area. Folding forward from the hips, you can also bring your hands to a block (set on its highest or lowest level). Make sure you bend your knees and engage your thigh muscles. This will relax your hamstrings. While they can help, forward folds can also be tricky with lower back issues. If this doesn’t feel right or is too painful, skip it altogether.
One of the most relieving poses for lower back pain and stress; it’s a simple pose for the spine and muscles to relax. Lying on your back, bring both knees to your chest and over to one side, with your head looking in the opposite direction. Your arms should be extended in a “T” shape, and both shoulders should be firmly on the floor. To deepen the stretch you can extend your bottom leg. Breath 5-10 breaths then switch sides.
Cat-Cows are an essential move to warm up the body and back. On all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, take a slow deep inhale as you start to open through your chest. Your shoulder blades are pressing back into your ribcage and your shoulders should be away from your ears. Your tailbone is pressing up – that’s cow. As you exhale, slowly round the chest as if to push the mat away with your hands, scoop the tailbone in, this will release tension in your lower back (pretend you’re hunching like an angry cat – hence the name!). Repeat these moves by moving back and forth to the rhythm of your (slow) breath.
Reclined pigeon is a modified version of the regular seated half-pigeon. It is easier on the lower back and releases the hips and glutes. Lie on your back, feet flat on the ground. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, then thread your hand through and grab a hold of your left hamstring or shin. For a more intense stretch, pull your thigh closer to your body. Hold for 5-10 breaths, and then switch sides.
A deeply satisfying, restorative pose, happy baby releases any tension in the back, groin, and inner thighs. It’s a great hip opener since the spine is in a neutral position as you’re laying flat. Bend your knees into your chest and if possible, grab a hold of your feet. If not, use a strap or a belt around the soles of your feet to aid you in this posture. With your knees slightly wider than your chest, stack your ankles in line with your knee joints. Actively aim to gently push your feet up towards the ceiling while creating a resistance by pulling down with your hands.
Sitting upright, extend your left leg in front of you with your foot flexed (so that your toes are facing you). Bend the right leg and place your foot against your inner left thigh. Make sure your sitting bones are evenly on the floor. As you take a deep breath in, extend your arm up above you. Then, as you exhale, slowly start to fold forward above your extended leg. If you can grab a hold of your left foot or ankle, you can slowly start to peel your chest open towards the ceiling. You should feel the stretch in your lower back and side body muscles. Stay for 5-10 breaths, and then switch sides. If the pose is too intense at first, place a blanket under the knee of the extended leg, and use a strap to wrap around the sole of your foot, holding on to either side with both hands.
Downward dog helps release any compression that may be present in the spine.
After a long day, this subtle inversion hits the reset button. Stretching the hamstrings, shoulders and easing pressure off the lower back, the more you bend your legs, the better it feels. From a table top position on all fours, send your hips back and up towards the sky, pushing away with your hands and grounding them into the mat, try and send your biceps behind your ears. Your hamstrings may be tight in this pose, so don’t worry about not touching the ground with your heels, just make sure your lower back isn’t rounding.
To transition into cobra from a downward dog, simply come forward into a plank, drop your knees and lay on your belly. Place your hands under your shoulders and begin to push away with your hands, keeping a slight bend in the elbows. This should stretch the spine and alleviate some of the pressure. Repeat 3-4 times.
Sitting on your heels with your knees wide and your arms extended in front of you or by your sides, child’s pose helps align the spine and takes any pressure off the lower back. For added support, rest your torso on a bolster placed between your legs.
*Please note, these poses are not a treatment. If you are concerned with your lower back pain, please consult a health practitioner.