Runners who are burdened with mild to severe back pain might be experiencing this due to improper form or overuse of weak muscles and joints. When the hips and glutes aren’t strong enough to support the body on their own, a strain is put on the lower back that can lead to serious, debilitating pain during a run.
Because of this pain, runners are often tempted to stop working out because it is causing them pain. Instead, they should replace their daily run with exercises for lower back pain, stretches, and even yoga.
Certain stretches aim to strengthen tight muscles in the core, hips, glutes, and hamstrings, which in turn releases tension from the lower back muscles. Try these stretches at home:
1. Back Flexion Stretch
The Back Flexion Stretch is a type of stabilization exercise that aims to stretch the lower back by bending the upper body forward.
To complete this stretch, lie on your back and pull both of your knees toward your chest. While doing this, flex your head and neck forward until you can feel the stretch throughout your middle and lower back muscles.
2. Kneeling Lunge Stretch
Begin by kneeling on both knees with your knees shoulder-width apart. Next, move the left leg forward so that your foot is flat on the ground and your weight is distributed evenly on either side of the body. Place both of your hands on the left thigh and lean forward slowly, until you can feel a stretch in the right leg.
The Kneeling Lunge Stretch targets the hip flexors, which when too tight, limit the range of motion and worsen lower back pain. Loosening and relaxing the hip muscles can also help improve poor posture.
3. Knee to Chest Stretch
Lying on your back with your knees bent and heels on the floor in front of you, place both of your hands behind the left knee and bring it in towards the chest. This placement should stretch both major muscles in the buttocks, which restores strength to the hips, core, and back. Repeat on the opposite side for a deeper stretch in the piriformis and gluteus maximus.
4. Piriformis Muscle Stretch
The piriformis muscle is one of two important muscles in the buttocks. It sits behind the gluteus maximus and is responsible for facilitating hip movement and providing support to the lower body. It also dramatically affects the back. When this muscle is too tight, it can cause serious pain in the lower back.
To stretch the piriformis muscle, lie on your back with your knees bent. First, cross your left leg over your right. Let the left ankle rest on your opposite knee. Next, pull the knee in toward the body until you feel the stretch in your buttocks. Rest and repeat on the opposite side.
5. Glute Bridge
The Glute Bridge strengthens the glutes, which then strengthens the core. A strong core encourages good posture, eliminating tension to the hips and lower back muscles.
To perform the Glute Bridge, lie on the floor with your hands at your sides, feet on the floor hip-width apart, and your knees facing the ceiling. Flexing your glutes and core muscles, lift the hips off the floor slowly until the body forms a straight line. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, and slowly lower your hips to the floor.
6. Tabletop Leg Press
The Tabletop Leg Press is a core-strengthening exercise for lower back pain that works to stabilize the lower back muscles and relieve discomfort.
Begin this exercise by lying on your back with both knees bent at a 90º angle and your feet flat on the floor in front of you. While engaging your core, perform a crunch and place both hands on your thighs.
Now pull your legs into your body while pushing your hands against the thighs. This technique is a resistance exercise, so at this point, no further movement should occur. Hold this here for 30 seconds and repeat as desired.
If you experience any discomfort while performing these stretches and exercises for lower back pain, stop immediately, and visit a professional for more in-depth treatment advice.