Suffering from tightness and pain in the lower back is common, but you don't need to reach for a pain pill or schedule a trip to the chiropractor just yet. It's often possible to alleviate low-back tightness by performing a variety of stretches. Even if you're not overly flexible or haven't yet set foot in a yoga class, most stretches are easy to accomplish and can give you the relief you desire.
Lie flat on your back to prepare for the pelvic tilt stretch, which can create an immediate sense of relief in your low back. Bend your knees so your feet are resting comfortably on the floor. In this position, your back will be curved enough that your lower back will remain slightly above the ground. Tense your abs to lower your lower back to the ground, hold this position for five seconds and then repeat the stretch for 10 reps.
Begin the knee-to-chest stretch by lying on the ground with both knees slightly bent and your heels touching the floor. Bend your right leg so you can reach both hands behind the knee, and then pull the thigh toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your low back. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and then alternate legs. Try five reps of each leg.
Position yourself on the ground so you're lying flat on your stomach, as though you're about to attempt a pushup. With your hands placed on the floor beside your torso, extend your arms to lift your upper body off the ground, while keeping your legs flat on the floor. Push upward until you feel a stretch in your low back, and then hold the pose for five seconds before sinking back down. Repeat this stretch in reps of 10.
Lower yourself to the floor and lie flat on your back with your knees bent. With your shoulders pressed against the floor, hold your knees together and roll them to one side. If you can lower them all the way to the floor, it's ideal; if not, descend as far as you can without pain. Hold the pose for 10 seconds, and then move your knees to the other side and repeat the exercise.
- If you feel that a stretch is worsening your low-back tightness or pain, discontinue it immediately.
- Never stretch to the point of pain. It's better to perform a lighter stretch that is comfortable than a deeper one that harms you.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.