Stretches and Positions to Help Decrease Your Low Back Pain Before You See Your Medical Doctor or Physical Therapist

Claire Bingham, PT, DPT, ATC, LAT

Back pain has been a hot topic in recent years and will affect many people at some point in their lives. There seems to be a certain stigma or fear of low back pain, but also a lack of knowledge behind what an individual can do to assist with their low back pain symptoms. Yes, you may be familiar with terms such as Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), Spondylosisthesis, or a herniated disc, but these positions may help decrease your symptoms to a manageable level to assist with you getting back to the activities you love. It is important with back pain to keep moving if possible, so use these activities to assist with allowing you to return to light exercise and activity in the home.

Keep in mind that these activities may be slightly uncomfortable at times, but should not be overly painful. If they are, cease the activity and try another position.


Decompression positions

Supine Decompression Position
Side-lying Decompression Position
Can you only lay on one side but it doesn’t do quite enough? This position is great for individuals with symptoms that radiate into one lower extremity, or when you have a lot of muscle tightness on one side of your low back and need a good stretch.


Stretches

A lot of low back pain is a result of muscle spasms or muscle tightness, even if there is an accompanying diagnosis like DDD. Here are some of our favorite stretches to give our low back pain patients to reduce stiffness and get patients ready to move. If you are having muscle spasms that are preventing your movement, you can also have a family member assist you with assuming these positions. You should hold these stretches for at least 45 seconds to 1 minute, and multiple repetitions may be required.

Double Legs Knee to Chest (DL KTC)
This stretch is great for that tightness in the low back, especially tightness you may feel when sitting or walking for long periods of time.
Single Legs Knee to Chest (SL KTC)
Similar to the DL KTC, this stretch places more emphasis on one side of the trunk and hip in the buttock region. Your buttock muscles are closely related to the thoracolumbar fascia of the low back, which is why this stretch is great for reducing stiffness in the low back.
Lower Trunk Rotation
Lower Trunk Rotation
This is one of my favorite stretches/strengthening exercises to give my patients. I find that the majority of my patients are afraid to twist their trunk when they have low back pain, and this is a great way to being initiating and controlling that movement. It’s also a great stretch, especially for individuals whose back pain is related to a muscle spasm from a twist and lift motion.
Piriformis Stretches
Piriformis Stretches
The piriformis and other hip rotators are commonly thought of when people come in with sciatica symptoms, but it is also very intimately involved with the lumbar spine and sacrum. You can do these stretches lying on your back, or in sitting.

Hamstring Stretches
Great for anyone with low back pain or who sits for long periods of time. However, if you have pain radiating down your legs, you may need to decrease intensity of length of time you hold the stretch in each repetition.


Claire Bingham, PT, DPT, ATC, LAT is a physical therapist with OrthoCarolina Hickory.

Comments

May 26, 2018

As a teacher, I stand all day. I had spine surgery two years ago, and though I've never felt better, my lower back does get a "tight" feeling. I am going to try these stretches for a week and see if the"tight" feeling improves. Thank you!
- TARA ANASTASI

May 24, 2018

Thank you! Some of these I do daily in order to get started! It is a struggle.
- Venice Biggers

May 22, 2018

These work. Keep up with them and your pain should be manageable or gone. Good Luck. Per Ortho Charlotte, NC and Elite Physical, Charlotte, NC.
- Linda Roberts

May 22, 2018

I do all of these exercises per Ortho Boone nc great relief
- Rudy cutrera

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