No medicine, no problem. Rather than darting off to the physical therapist or dropping a fat stack of cash on x-rays and doctor appointments, a little flexibility work may be the key to cure your low back pain. Proof, you say? Peer-reviewed research published in The BMJ in 2017 found, “Yoga is as effective as physical therapy for treating lower back pain.” So, where do you start with at-home remedies? I’ve handpicked five of my favorite yoga-inspired stretches to keep you limber and battle that sore back.
Note: The following stretches are designed to alleviate soreness and acute pain. Chronic and/or severe pain should be addressed by a medical professional.
Lying Hamstring Stretch: Let’s start simple; tight hamstrings can impact the alignment of your pelvis and are often considered both a symptom and contributor to low back pain (though their role as a cause of pain is hotly debated by medical professionals). And for most of us, those tight hammies are the byproduct of being strapped to a seat eight hours a day. So… what are you waiting for? Quit your job! I kid, I kid. Lay flat on your back, toss one leg straight up in the air, and gently pull until you feel a nice stretch in the back of the elevated leg.
Figure Four Stretch: Another common component of low back pain? Tight hips. As a guy, I’m all too familiar with these — or, if you want to get fancy with it, a tight piriformis muscle. I could attempt to explain this stretch via written word, but it will get real messy, real quick. So to avoid any confusion, embarrassment, or further damages to your body, take eight seconds to watch this video (or the video below) and have at it. The relief you’ll receive in your hips is an absolute game changer, and much needed for both men and women.
Child’s Pose: You don’t need to be a yogi to be familiar with this symbolic staple of the ancient practice. Get on your hands and knees, drop your booty back until it grazes your heels, and reach your arms as far forward as you can, lowering your upper body towards the floor. Relax your head and feel the space (if you focus, you can really feel it) in your lower back as you breathe in and out.
Balancing Table Pose: Don’t let the name intimidate you; this pose is far simpler than it sounds. Drop to your hands and knees, ensuring your shoulders are directly over your hands. Reach your right leg backward and your left arm forward while maintaining a tight core. Pro-tip: Think bellybutton to spine. Hold for 10 seconds as you lengthen your leg and arm and then repeat with the opposite limbs. This stretch doubles as a strengthening exercising building both abdominal and low back strength.
Give Yoga a Go: You were probably expecting a single stretch here, but you’re actually getting a library of back pain blasters. There are thousands of yoga poses (1,350 minimum, but who’s counting?), and they all can have a positive impact on your pain. Hop on over to Forte, click a class, and give yoga a go from the comforts of your own home… your back will thank you later.