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Last Updated on September 13, 2017

Simple Stretching for Lower Back Pain that You Can Do At Home

Simple Stretching for Lower Back Pain that You Can Do At Home

Stretching for lower back pain is a very common practice. Most people do it straight in the morning, right after waking up and are often implementing a far too rigorous stretching routine.

This is not the best way to do it. Stretching can be a great tool in improving your lower back health. But what if I tell you that the way you’re stretching could actually cause more trouble instead of preventing it in the long-term?

The Golden Rules Of Stretching For Lower Back Pain

‘Primum non nocere.’ / EN: ‘First, do no harm.’ – Key principle in medicine.

If you have lower back pain, stretching is generally a good idea. But remember to keep certain principles in mind. You don’t want to harm yourself. You want to effectively ease your pain.

  • Always stretch warmed up. Remember, you’re damaging your muscles when you’re stretching. Make sure your muscles are warmed up so they’re able to deal with stress better. To warm up, simply go walking in fast pace for 10 minutes before you start to stretch.
  • Stretching in the morning is a complete No-Go. Your discs of your spine get soaked up over night. They’re increasing in volume. That’s why you’re few centimeters taller in the morning. Being tall might be great, but due to this circumstance there’s also more pressure on your vertebraes during those first 1-2 hours. This is the time that your discs spend in that soaked up state. Don’t stretch during that time frame. Your spine could be damaged more easily.
  • Don’t stretch every day if you’re a beginner and don’t stretch too hard. Remember that stretching puts stress on your muscles and joints. In the beginning your body needs time to adapt to the damage. Start with 2-3 times a week for the best results. Also don’t stretch when your muscles are sore.
  • Don’t focus entirely on your lower back. Yes you might feel pain in the lower back region, but this doesn’t mean that the pain stems from there. Everything is connected in your body. You have to think of your body as a system. Lower back pain could stem from tension in your upper back or even your heels. Don’t just do lower back stretches, make sure your organism is healthy overall.
  • Keep a straight back. I see people trying to stretch their hamstrings with a completely round back. Don’t do that. You’re hurting your spine more than you’re helping it. Keep a straight back – or better – choose a position where having a rounded back is impossible. Such as in the stretching exercises that are following.

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    The Stretching Exercises

    The exercises following are divided into two different categories:

    1. Removing pressure from your spine
    2. Stretching the muscles in your body to remove damages during the day.

    Impaired flexibility is seldom the root cause for lower back pain. Yes you might feel some pain relief doing it short term, but this is simply because of the increased blood flow to the damaged tissue. Most lower back pain stem from problems of your joints and bones, things that stretching only has a minimal effect over. Nonetheless stretching adequately and regularly can reduce the pressure on your spine in the short and long-term.

    3 Ways To Remove Pressure From Your Spine

    Hold these stretches for approximately 20 seconds until you feel less pressure on your spine. At best do them after sitting for a long work day. This can be truly energizing.

    Elongating Your Spine – No Equipment Needed

    With this stretching technique you’re elongating your spine and stretching your chest muscles. Try to make your spine as long as possible. Just make sure to not overextend it in the other direction. Have good posture during the entire stretching.

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      Elongating Your Spine – Ball Technique

      This stretching method is also taking away pressure from your spine. This is a little bit more difficult than the previous exercise, as you have to deal with instability. Make sure your belly button is the highest point of your body in this movement. Training on this exercise ball is also a great way to train the stabilizing muscles of your back.

        Elongating Your Spine – Inversion Table

        This is the most advanced and in my eyes most effective version of taking away pressure. You’re basically turning yourself upside down on an inversion table and hold for a couple of seconds. This takes the effect of gravity away. Your discs can recharge. Inversion Tables start at about 100$.

          3 Ways To Stretch Spine Healthy Muscles

          Hold the tension in these muscles for about 1 -2 minutes. Aim for two sets in the beginning.

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          Chest Stretch – Bat As Equipment

          This is an easy stretch of your chest muscles. Performed with a bat. You can easily do this exercise by having the palms of your slightly bended arm pressed against a wall. Stretching the chest muscles will improve your posture and therefore dampen the long-term damage a bad posture has on your spine.

            Hamstrings Stretch – No Equipment Needed

            Most hamstring stretching technique only work if you keep your back bended. This is a great alternative. By laying on the ground you make sure you always have good posture. Grab your leg just under the knee cap, then slowly bring it into a fully stretched position.

              Hamstrings Stretch – Towel Or Band

              This is the same hamstring stretch as before. But here you’re using a towel or a band to increase the stretching effect. This is my personal favourite. Tip: For Beginners, put the towel or the band around your achilles tendon, not around your foot. This will ease the pain.

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                Stretching is a great way to improve your lower back health. By following my advice and stretching exercises suggested above, you will ease your lower back pain and experience a healthier back.

                If you want to find out more ways on relieving lower back pain, check out my other article What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

                Featured photo credit: http://maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/Legs-Yoga-Sports-Girl-1146277 via maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com

                More by this author

                Florian Wüest

                Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

                What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively 7 Super Fast Remedies for a Pulled Muscle in Neck Is Building Muscle Possible in Your 40s? (Build Muscle the Batman Way) How I Lose Weight, Get to 9% Body Fat and Build Muscles with Vegan Diet How to Gain Muscle Mass Naturally (A Step-By-Step Guide)

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                How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

                Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

                Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

                I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

                You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

                Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

                When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

                I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

                Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

                Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

                Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

                1. The Inner Critic

                This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

                • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
                • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
                • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
                • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

                He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

                Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

                2. The Worrier

                This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

                He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

                Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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                3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

                He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

                He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

                He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

                4. The Sleep Depriver

                This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

                His motivation can be:

                • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
                • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
                • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
                • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

                How can you control these squatters?

                How to Master Your Mind

                You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

                Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

                There are two ways to control your thoughts:

                • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
                • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

                This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

                The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

                Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

                For the Inner Critic

                When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

                You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

                For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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                You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

                “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

                If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

                • He riles up the Worrier.
                • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
                • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
                • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
                • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

                Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

                Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

                For the Worrier

                Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

                Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

                You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

                • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
                • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                • Muscles tense

                Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

                If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

                Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

                “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

                Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

                If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

                Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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                Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

                For example:

                If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

                “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

                Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

                “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

                Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

                For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

                Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

                The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

                • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
                • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
                • Muscles tension

                I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

                Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

                Breathe in through your nose:

                • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
                • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
                • Focus on your belly rising.

                Breathe out through your nose:

                • Feel your lungs emptying.
                • Focus on your belly falling.
                • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

                Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

                Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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                One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

                Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

                For the Sleep Depriver

                (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

                I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

                Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

                1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
                2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

                When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

                From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

                For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

                If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

                You can also use this technique any time you want to:

                • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
                • Shut down your thinking.
                • Calm your feelings.
                • Simply focus on the present moment. 

                Becoming the Master of Your Mind

                Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

                You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

                Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

                Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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