If you've ever been in need of relief for back pain, you know that it's an awful feeling! Every time you breath, it hurts! Who knew that a slight turn of your body could send you into spasm?
My aim with this article is to educate you a little on what causes low back pain, give you some flexibility stretches that you can do at home and hopefully provide some natural pain relief!
Are you ready? Careful! Don't move too fast!
A lot of back pain is caused by tight muscles around the pelvis pulling in different directions which results in lower back pain.
There are several muscle groups that contribute to the health of our low back area: hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes (buttocks) are the ones that we will be concentrating.
Your hip flexors or psoas muscles are the muscles that allow you to lift your leg out in front. As you can see in the picture, they attach on the femur (leg) bone and onto the lumbar spine (lower back). The sitting position allows these muscles to shorten and get tight. When they are tight, they end up pulling the lumbar vertebrae forward creating strain on the lower back. What do most people do too much of? Sit!!!
Your hamstrings are the muscles in the back of your upper leg and they allow you to pull your heel up towards your buttocks. As you can see by the picture, there are 3 of them and they all attach onto the bottom of the pelvis. If the hamstrings are tight, they can pull down on the pelvis creating a posterior tilt. This will put pressure on the lower back.
Your glutes are made up of the maximus, minimus and medius - 3 muscles in different layers. It is not uncommon to have one side of your buttocks stronger than the other. That also results in one side being less flexible than the other. And what does that mean? Those strong glute muscles can pull or twist your pelvis to one side or the other. Resulting in? You guessed it! Lower back pain!
Can you see how if these muscles are tight, you may experience pain in your lower back?
To get relief for back pain, it is imperative to work on some flexibility stretches for the above muscle groups.
Now that we've established that the muscles around the pelvis can contribute to lower back pain, let's look at some easy flexibility stretches to help you out!
I teach a full workshop on this topic and shortly you will be able to download that workshop from this website. In the meantime, have a look at a few of the stretches below as demonstrated by my daughter Abby.
Knees to chest - glutes stretch - one of my favorite flexibility stretches to alleviate pain in the lower back. Lie on the floor (if you can get there), and gently draw your knees into your chest. You can grasp under your knees or over them, whichever feels most comfortable. From here, gently rock back and forth.
Hip flexor stretch - with a pillow under your back knee, gently slide that leg backwards. Keep your front knee right over the ankle and support your upper body. You can also put your hands on a chair for extra support. You will feel this stretch down the front of your leg where the leg attaches into your body. Hold it for 30-60 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
Straight leg hamstring stretch - using a Yoga strap, a belt or a towel, lie on the floor and wrap the strap around your foot. Use your arms to gently pull the leg up towards the ceiling. It's important to keep the leg as straight as possible. Now tighten the muscles in the front of your leg (quadriceps). You should feel this stretch down the back of your leg - your hamstrings. Hold for 30-60 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
The above stretches will provide you with a good start to stretching out the muscles that can contribute to back pain. I suggest that you do these stretches every day - it will only take 5 minutes.
Another natural pain relief option is Fascial Stretch Therapy(TM). If you read my page on fascia, you will learn that this connective tissue is really important to maintaining flexibility and decreasing muscle and joint pain. Using an infrared sauna is also helpful.
Relief for back pain is a common request that I have here in the studio and I hope that you have learned a few ways to help yourself out. Stay tuned for my "Alleviating Low Back Pain" workshop that will be available for download shortly!