Low back stiffness can occur for many reasons, but it is often because we spend so much time sitting. If you are a desk junkie, here are three ways to improve stiffness in your lower back.
These movements can be performed a couple of times throughout the day, perhaps when you are taking a coffee break or when know you have spent a long time sitting and feel like you need to stretch your lower back.
Reminding yourself to move!
My FitBit has a setting called ‘Reminders to Move’ which will vibrate if I have not walked 250 steps in an hour. It is a good nudge for me if I am writing to get up and move about. If you have a different fitness tracker it will probably have something similar. Otherwise a simple alarm or alert on your phone will work just as well. The stretches below will provide relief however, sometimes sitting for long periods is the problem so being deliberate about how long you sit, rather than an ‘until it’s done’ approach.
Step 1: Hip tilts and hip circles
You can do these movements in seated, sitting at your desk as long as you have a sturdy chair with no wheels! However, they feel lovely in 4 point, which is on your hands and knees. The breathing is different between Yoga and Pilates in this movement. Go with what feels good for you, as long as you connect your movement to your breath it’s all good! Aim for 5 to 10 of each movement.
Keeping stillness everywhere apart from your lower back, gently tilt the pelvis forward and back. We are limiting the range of the movement to your lower back, think bra line to your pants, that part of your back initially.Then gently making the movement bigger so you can feel the whole of your spine arching.
From there move into hip circles, as it sounds gently create circles with your hips. Think about four points of your circle. Swap sides after 5 slow circles in each direction.
Step 2: Stretching your glutes
You can do this in a few alignments, but I have found seated is best when you hips are tight. Using a sturdy chair with no wheels, bring one foot up so the heel rests on your opposite knee. Let everything settle, then:
• focus on the weight being equal between your sit bones, so you are not tilting to one side.
• Then just breathe. Let gravity take over so you can feel heaviness in the bent leg assisting you with the stretch.
• Sit tall, and gently lean forward for a deeper stretch
Swap sides after a minute or so.
Step 3: Stretching your hip flexors
There are many ways to stretch your hip flexors, but we are again going to do this on a sturdy chair with no wheels.
Sit yourself so you are to the edge on your chair, so it literally feels like one bum cheek is on the chair and one is off. The side that is off, straighten that leg out behind you whist keeping the pelvis in neutral (you may need to bend your knee initially) . Hands rest lightly on your front leg without twisting your torso.
Swap sides after a minute or so.
None of these stretches should be painful, so please stop if they are. Please take a common sense approach to these stretches. If you are concerned about your low back stiffness, please speak to your doctor or health care provider to get advice that is specific to you and your needs.
They are great to do a couple of time during your work day if you spend time seated.
I would love to hear if they help improve the stiffness in your back ~ Samantha
Stretch Images credit: Physigraphe.com
Samantha Valand is the author of “The Menopause Diaries: A practical guide to healthy eating and exercising in your menopausal years”. You can find out more about her book here.