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Low Back Stretches To Improve Mobility

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Low back pain is a common issue that affects many people, but did you know that improving your lumbar mobility can help alleviate discomfort and prevent future problems? In this blog post, we'll review five exercises designed to enhance lumbar mobility, complete with videos to help guide you through each movement. By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you'll be on your way to a healthier, more flexible low back.

Our backs can become tight for various reasons, including prolonged sitting, poor posture, muscle imbalances, and a lack of physical activity. As our modern lifestyle often involves extended periods of sitting at desks and using electronic devices, our muscles can become stiff and our posture compromised. This tightness can lead to discomfort, restricted movement, and an increased risk of injury. As a physical therapist I have helped thousands of people identify the root cause of their tightness, and help them to alleviate these symptoms. In this blog post we are simply showing you some of the stretches we commonly use in clinic. Some of these would be contraindicated or not recommended for certain low back injuries/conditions. If you have pain, before doing any of these movements it is best to get evaluation of your low back. If not, these can be great exercises to improve general mobility.

Improving range of motion and mobility in your back not only feels good but is also essential for overall spinal health and functionality. A greater range of motion allows for more efficient movement, reduces strain on the spine and surrounding muscles, and helps prevent injury. As you work to enhance your back mobility, you may find relief from chronic pain, experience improved posture, and enjoy a greater ability to engage in everyday activities. Regular physical therapy sessions can further support your progress by offering expert guidance, personalized exercise plans, and hands-on techniques to promote spinal health. By prioritizing your back mobility and working with a physical therapist, you can experience the numerous benefits of a more flexible and pain-free spine.

Cat to Child's Pose:

The Cat to Child's Pose exercise combines two classic yoga movements that help to stretch and mobilize the lumbar spine. Start in a tabletop position, and then transition into the Cat Pose by rounding your back and tucking your chin towards your chest. Next, gently shift your hips back towards your heels, lowering your chest to the floor to enter the Child's Pose. This combination of movements gently stretches the muscles surrounding the lumbar spine, promoting flexibility and relieving tension in the low back.

Quadruped Reach Through:

The Quadruped Reach Through is an excellent exercise for increasing mobility in the thoracic spine and lumbar region. Begin in a tabletop position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Reach one arm under your opposite shoulder, threading it through while keeping your hips stable. Rotate your torso and lower your shoulder to the ground to deepen the stretch. This movement encourages rotation in the thoracic spine while maintaining lumbar stability, which is essential for a healthy and mobile low back.

Dynamic Toe Touches:

Dynamic Toe Touches are an effective way to stretch and mobilize the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and then hinge at your hips to reach down and touch your toes. Slowly raise your torso back up to the starting position and repeat. This movement promotes flexibility in the hamstrings and glutes, which can help alleviate tension and tightness in the low back that may contribute to pain and discomfort.

World's Greatest Stretch:

The World's Greatest Stretch is a multi-faceted movement that targets several key muscle groups, including the hips, hamstrings, and low back. Begin in a high plank position, then step one foot forward, placing it outside your hand on the same side. Rotate your torso and reach your arm towards the sky, opening your chest. Hold for a moment, then return your hand to the ground and step back to the starting position. This exercise promotes hip mobility, stretches the hip flexors, and encourages rotation in the thoracic spine, all of which contribute to a more flexible and pain-free lumbar region.

Jefferson Curls:

Jefferson Curls are a controlled, weighted exercise designed to increase mobility in the entire spine, including the lumbar region. Stand on an elevated surface (like a box or step) with a light weight in your hands. With your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent, slowly roll your spine down one vertebra at a time, reaching the weight towards the ground. Reverse the movement and roll back up to the starting position. By encouraging spinal articulation and stretching the posterior chain, Jefferson Curls can help improve overall back mobility and decrease the risk of low back pain.

Prone Press Up:

The Prone Press Up is an effective exercise for improving lumbar mobility and targeting the muscles that support the spine. Begin by lying face down on the floor with your hands positioned under your shoulders, similar to a push-up position. Slowly press your upper body up by extending your arms while keeping your hips and legs in contact with the ground. Ensure that you're engaging your core and glutes to maintain stability throughout the movement. Hold for a moment at the top, then lower yourself back down to the starting position. The Prone Press Up helps to extend the lumbar spine, counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting or poor posture, and can alleviate pressure on the spinal discs. By including this exercise in your routine, you can further enhance your low back mobility and support spinal health.

Seated Segmental Flexion:

Seated Segmental Flexion is a focused exercise designed to improve flexion range of motion at each level of the spine, including the lumbar region. To perform this exercise, sit on a stable surface with your legs extended in front of you and your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on your thighs or shins, depending on your flexibility. Slowly begin to flex your spine, starting from the top of your neck and working your way down to your lower back, imagining that you're bending one vertebra at a time. Once you've reached the maximum flexion, reverse the movement and slowly return to the starting position, extending your spine segment by segment. This exercise promotes spinal articulation, increases flexibility, and can help alleviate tension in the low back. By incorporating Seated Segmental Flexion into your routine, you can further enhance your overall spinal mobility and contribute to a healthier low back.

By incorporating these six exercises into your routine, you can unlock lumbar mobility and alleviate low back pain. Remember, always consult a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program, and listen to your body to ensure you're performing these movements safely and effectively. With consistency and dedication, you'll be well on your way to a more mobile and pain-free low back.

If you want to see one of our therapists in Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, or Covington click below to schedule an appointment!

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