Stemming from the pandemic, more people continue to work from home and sit for long periods throughout the day.
Because of this, lower back pain is becoming increasingly more common. Now, how do we combat this rising health issue?
It all begins with your morning. It is a perfect time to implement new routines into your life that can help your overall wellness.
So, now that you are awake early, what should you do?
One of the most effective ways to minimize lower back pain is by stretching. You can add a series of stretches to kick off your day, giving your body a loose and flexible feeling.
The beauty of stretching is that you can do it anywhere (and at any time). There is no workout equipment or gym membership required. By adding small movements to your mornings, you can completely alter how you feel throughout your day while reducing pesky back pain that you are experiencing.
Today, we are reviewing effective lower back stretches that you can add to your morning routine and how they can improve your overall wellness.
What are the Benefits of Stretching after Waking Up?
Waking up early is not the easiest thing to do. Many people don’t feel fully ‘awake’ until they are long-passed their 3rd cup of coffee.
You may be surprised that a simple stretching routine can provide tons of energy to start your day.
The reason for this is increasing the blood flow throughout your body, including your brain. Your muscles become more awake, and your limbs will move with more ease. Mental clarity will flood your brain as blood flow increases throughout your body.
Your brain, similar to muscles, needs to be warmed up and it ‘wakes up’. A few morning stretches can provide you the mental clarity and refreshed feeling that you need to get through a long workday.
Lower back stretches also help improve your posture throughout the day. As mentioned earlier, more people are working from home and sitting most hours of the day.
Many of us are guilty of sitting with poor posture. Physical therapists and chiropractors are recommending stretching routines more frequently based on the decline of peoples’ posture. Simple stretches can do wonders for your posture and lower back pain.
Of course, morning stretches also reduce the chance of injury. Simply put, the more loose your body is, the less likely you are to pull, tare or strain something.
If you are already suffering from chronic pain in your back, stretching can help reduce that. Once your back pain has subsided, you can use a morning stretch routine as a proactive approach to staying healthy.
Effective Morning Stretches to Start Your Morning
1. Back Flexion Stretch
A back flexion stretch requires you to lie flat on your back and hug your knees into your chest. An effective approach is to hold this stretch for ten seconds and then relax.
You can also do this stretch while sitting. For this position, sit on the edge of your bed or chair. From here, reach both hands down to touch the floor with the intention of slightly curling your spine as you stretch downward.
Hold your position for ten seconds before slowly returning to a seated position. You can repeat these exercises a few times until you feel relief from any stiffness in your lower back.
An advanced version of the flexion stretch can be performed from a standing position. Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart, then slowly bend forwards from the waist. Reach your hands down towards your feet and hold the position for ten seconds before slowly returning to a standing position.
The back flexion stretch is a simple and effective way to improve lumbar mobility and decrease any pain in your lower back. It is among the safest exercises to perform because it places minimal strain on your back.
When engaging in any exercise, it’s essential to monitor any pre-existing conditions you have. If you are unsure how to address a certain stretching position, you should consult a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist or chiropractor.
2. Side Bends
Sides bend stretching is a great way to loosen up the sides of your lower back. If your lower back pain typically occurs on only one side of your body, this is a perfect stretch to add to your morning.
Begin in a standing position and slowly slide your left hand down your left leg, bending sideways as far as possible without causing any pain or discomfort. Hold for ten seconds before slowly returning to a standing position. Once you’ve returned to a standing position, slowly slide your right hand down your right leg, again stretching as far as you can within your comfort level. Hold for ten seconds and return to a standing position.
As you bend to the side, squeeze your legs, glutes and abdominals. This will give you a better support base and help you to extend the stretch further. Not only will side bends give you better posture through stretching the spine and obliques, but it also helps you to keep a trim waist by tightening your abs and improves core body strength.
3. Hip Stretch
The hip stretch requires you to lie flat on your back. Bend your knees toward the ceiling, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Rest your right ankle on your left knee and link your hands behind your left thigh. Pull the thigh towards your chest and hold the position for ten seconds.
Slowly return both feet to the floor. Next, take your left ankle and rest it on your right knee. Interlink your fingers behind the right thigh and pull it towards your chest. Hold for ten seconds, then gently release.
Hip flexor stretches have several benefits, including greater hip flexibility, reduced swayback (when the spine curves too far inward), and decreased pain in the lower back and hips.
4. Supine Twist
The supine twist is calming, healing, and conducive to slow, meditative breathing. Begin by lying on your back. Place both arms out to the side with palms flat to the floor so that your body forms a ‘T’ shape. Gently lift both legs so that your shins are parallel to the ceiling. Take a deep breath in, and as you breathe out, lower your legs to the left side, aiming to keep your right shoulder touching the ground.
Turn your head to the right and hold your position for ten seconds. Return your legs to the center so that your shins once again face towards the ceiling. This time, gently lower your legs to the right and turn your head to the left. Hold for ten seconds, then relax.
The supine twist engages your belly and transfer your leg’s weight into the floor, creating space in the lower back. Tightness in this area often causes back pain that can extend from your neck down into your legs. The supine twist is an excellent way to support the opening of this area.
The position of the supine twist also lengthens the muscles that run along your spine. By lowering your legs and pressing your opposite shoulder to the floor, you create a release in the spinal muscles. This stretch can relieve lower back pain, helping you start your day off on the right foot.
Morning stretches are an excellent way to prepare your body for the day ahead. They should take around five to ten minutes to complete and comprise slow and gentle movements that eliminate the risk of injury to the body. By starting your day with this gentle stretching routine, you can reduce lower back pain and move forward feeling energized.