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Body Signals: Stretches for Low Back and Sciatica

stones stacked like a spineDo you have low back pain or sciatica?

At-home care for low back pain and sciatica is necessary to help in the recovery process. Stretching can be an effective method to help recover from an injury.

These stretches should be done proactively in order to keep the lumbar spine flexible and durable in order to avoid injury.

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Knee-to-chest

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Using both hands, grab hold of your right lower leg and interlace your fingers or clasp your wrists just under the knee.
  3. While keeping your left foot flat on the floor, gently pull your right knee up to your chest until you feel a slight stretch in your lower back.
  4. Hold your right knee against your chest for 30–60 seconds, making sure to relax your legs, hips, and lower back.
  5. Release your right knee and return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat steps 2–4 with your left leg.
  7. Repeat three times for each leg.

To make this stretch more difficult, simultaneously bring both of your knees to your chest for 15–20 seconds. Do this 3 times, separated by 30 seconds of rest.

Trunk Rotation

  1. Lie on your back and bring your knees up toward your chest so your body is positioned as if you’re sitting in a chair.
  2. Fully extend your arms out to the sides, with your palms face-down on the floor.
  3. Keeping your knees together and hands on the floor, gently roll both bent knees over to your right side and hold for 15–20 seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat step 3 on your left side, again holding for 15–20 seconds.
  5. Repeat 5–10 times on each side.

Seated Forward Bend

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Hook a standard bath towel around the bottoms of your feet at the heels.
  3. Gently bend forward at your hips, bringing your belly down to your thighs.
  4. Keeping your back straight, grab the towel to help you bring your belly closer to your legs.
  5. Stretch until you feel mild tension in the back of your legs and lower back.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.

You can increase or decrease the tension of this stretch by grabbing the towel closer or farther from your feet. As you become more flexible over time, you can increase how long you hold the stretch, or reduce the time between stretches.

Reclining Pigeon Pose

  1. While on your back, bring your right leg up to a right angle. Clasp both hands behind the thigh, locking your fingers.
  2. Lift your left leg and place your right ankle on top of the left knee.
  3. Hold the position for a moment. This helps stretch the tiny piriformis muscle, which sometimes becomes inflamed and presses against the sciatic nerve, causing pain.
  4. Do the same exercise with the other leg.

Knee to Opposite Shoulder

  1. Lie on your back with your legs extended and your feet flexed upward.
  2. Bend your right leg and clasp your hands around the knee.
  3. Gently pull your right leg across your body toward your left shoulder. Hold it there for 30 seconds. Remember to pull your knee only as far as it will comfortably go. You should feel a relieving stretch in your muscle, not pain.
  4. Push your knee so your leg returns to its starting position.
  5. Repeat for a total of 3 reps, then switch legs.

Sitting Spinal Stretch

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs extended straight out with your feet flexed upward.
  2. Bend your right knee and place your foot flat on the floor on the outside of your opposite knee.
  3. Place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee to help you gently turn your body toward the right.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times, then switch sides.

These stretches should not be performed if pain is felt while performing them. If you had a recent injury to the spine you should always be assessed by a healthcare provider in order to make sure you heal properly.

Contact Greensboro Chiropractic if you have any questions!

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