If you've ever had back pain than you know the classic advice:
lift with your legs/hips
maintain a straight spine
avoid twisting and bending
strengthen your core
While these are all great tips, I often see my patients neglecting the fundamentals. Or worse yet, they have the best intentions but are doing exercises that overload the spine and end up causing more damage. The purpose of this post is to provide some insight into how to properly facilitate mobility without damaging our spines. To do this I have provided 3 of my favourite low back stretches/mobilizations. These are a great way to start off the day or to use as a break from your work schedule in order to get your back feeling great. I have selected these stretches as they provide a low compressive load on the spine and can be performed anywhere you have some ground space. If you have persistent low back pain however, talk to your healthcare provider in order to determine the exact cause, as different types of back pain require different solutions.
Low Back Rotations (5 reps per side, hold for 5 seconds each time)
This is a great alternative to toe touches (which can be very aggravating for people with disk issues). Low back rotations stretch the muscles of the low back without overloading the spine. Holding this for 30 seconds can create more lasting effects, however I usually use 5 second holds to maintain stability prior to a workout.
Cat Camel (12 reps)
This spine mobilization is a favourite among therapists. Not only does it feel great but it can decrease viscosity in the spine and get your back moving well before a workout.
QL Stretch (5 reps per side, hold for 5 seconds each time)
The quadratus lumborum connects our rib cage to our pelvis and is a common source of restriction and pain. This simple stretch targets the QL and is a great addition to any low back mobility program.