If you're lucky enough to not have lower back pain now, odds are you will at some point in the years ahead. In fact as much as 80 percent of the population may suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives, according to physical therapist Ann Wendel. One of the culprits of this pain can be tightness in the serratus posterior inferior muscle. Stretching with a foam roller can help you relax this muscle and relieve pain.
When you breathe out or stand up straight, you're engaging your serratus posterior inferior muscles. These muscles are on each side of your spine and connect your lower ribs to your vertebrae. Movements that involve twisting your upper body from side to side also engage these muscles.
Tightness and Pain
There are a number of activities that can strain the serratus posterior inferior muscles and cause them to become tight or painful. These include lifting heavy objects with your back instead of your legs or twisting as you lift. Stretching for something high over your head can affect this area as well. You may also notice pain in the serratus posterior inferior muscles in the morning if you are sleeping on a mattress that is too soft.
Wendel recommends stretching your serratus posterior inferior muscles with a large foam roller. Kneel on the floor with the roller on your left side. Gently shift your weight on to your left hip and rest the side of your body across the roller with your left elbow on the ground. The roller should be positioned just above your left hip. Stretch your arms over your head and lean left toward the floor. You should feel the stretch along your right side. Hold this position for 20 seconds, and then repeat up to four times. Continue breathing normally throughout the stretch.
The serratus posterior inferior muscle is just one of a number of muscles in the lower back so consider doing additional stretches that target this area as a whole. This could include moves such as the standing side stretch. Stand with your feet together and hands at your sides. As you inhale, reach your right arm above your head and to the left. Bend your upper body to the left while keeping your hips in place. Hold this position as you take several deep breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side. Along with stretching, aerobic exercise can also be helpful. Activities such as swimming or walking will increase blood flow to your lower back muscles.
Keep in mind that stretching should not be painful. If it is too uncomfortable or the pain continues, contact a physical therapist for other treatment options.
Elizabeth Peterson has been a reporter since 2005, working in television, radio and online. Specializing in health and environmental coverage, she has contributed to MSNBC and several local affiliates. Peterson earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.