Being stuck inside because of COVID-19 can do more than cause boredom and stress. It can cause you to become achy due to being more sedentary. This is particularly true with the lower back. With the gyms closed, we’re finding ourselves less physically active. We’re also sitting on the couch more catching up on Netflix. This is a recipe for disaster to our back muscles. This is Dr. Michael Failla from Monmouth Pain & Rehab and I want to give you some good stretches for your lower back to keep it healthy and reduce or prevent pain while stuck in the house.
With all the stretches below, I want you to hold for 30-40 seconds, and repeat 3-4 times.
KNEES TO CHEST: This is a great stretch to help decompress the spine. Lie on your back and grab your knees. Slowly pull your knees to your chest to the point that your glutes lift the ground.
PIRIFORMIS STRETCH: If you had recent sciatica, this is a good stretch to reduce the pain. On your back, If you want to stretch the left leg, put that ankle over the right knee. With Both hands, reach and grab the right hamstring muscles and pull to your chest till the glutes are off the ground. Repeat with the other leg.
GLUTEAL STRETCH: This is very similar to the knee to chest stretch. However you are doing one leg at a time to better isolate the individual gluteal muscles. Lying on your back. Grab your left or right hamstring muscles with both hands and pull to your chest till your gluteal starts to lift off the ground. Repeat with the opposite.
QUADRATUS LUMBORUM STRETCH: Lifting and twisting motions involve the “QL” muscles. When they are tight in can be extremely painful. To start this stretch, lie on your back. If we are doing the left, bring your left leg up 90 degrees. Then bring it across your body to the right and try to touch the floor. Use your right hand and lightly push the leg down, contacting right above the left knee. Your left arm should be stretched out to the left with the left shoulder flat on the ground. You can turn your head to the left to help increase the stretch and keep that left shoulder down. Repeat on the opposite side.
PSOAS STRETCH: The Psoas (P is silent) is a powerful muscle that functions in flexing the hip. It starts in the rib cage and attaches to the femur or thigh bone. A lot of references consider the Psoas to be a core muscle. When this muscle is tight it can be VERY painful. Ask any marathon runner when their Psoas muscle spasms! To start this stretch, get into the lunge position. If we are stretching the right psoas, the left knee is at 90 degrees and the right leg is back. Two things are important here. First, the gluteal muscles must always be contracted or squeezed. Second, the shoulders must always be aligned with the hips. Start to lean forward towards the left knee, keeping those two rules in mind. You should start to feel the stretch above the right quadriceps and hip. If not, you are leaning your shoulders forward so bring them back. Repeat with the opposite leg.
With these stretches, as with any exercises, it is important to keep hydrated. Being stuck in the house we tend to eat more than usual. Because we aren’t as active, let’s make sure our diet is healthy with lots of colored fruits and vegetables, good protein (fish and chicken) and healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and nut butters. And lets stay away from the sugars!
At Monmouth Pain and Rehab, you can call us or come in anytime to get a personal demonstration of any of these, or other exercises. With our schedules in an upheaval due to this current crisis, please know that we are open and here for you.
– Dr. Michael Failla, DC
Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation.