I Did This 5-Minute Stretch Routine For 2 Weeks, and My Low Back Pain Is Almost Gone
Working from home while dealing with a foot injury has been pretty hard for my body. I sit at a computer all day, but I can't get loose with workouts, walking, or running the way I'm used to. Even low-impact workouts like yoga have been tough to do consistently. From the start, it's been rough from a mental health perspective (cooped up in my house and I can't work out?!), but after almost four months, my body started to feel the pain too.
It was worst in my lower back. Sitting at my desk, I could just feel my back locking up; even arching my spine caused a sharp pain. It hurt, and it was scary — I'd never had back pain before, and my regular workout routine, the one thing I thought might help, was off-limits. My options seemed limited, but just putting up with this until my foot healed was not going to work.
Sometimes my foot felt OK enough to do gentle yoga, and that's how I found out that a few key stretches did wonders for my stiff back muscles. The best part? None of them put pressure on my foot, so I could do them even when the injury was acting up. I picked out the poses that gave me the most release and created a five-minute stretching sequence to do at night, after a long day at the computer, and first thing in the morning, to loosen me up for the day.
I've done this routine twice a day for two weeks, and my back already feels looser, less achey, and a little more flexible. And I know it's the stretching that's doing it; when I miss a session, believe me, I can feel the difference. My body is clearly telling me to keep up this routine, and I'm happy to set aside a few minutes a day if it makes this kind of difference! Check out my quick routine ahead and give it a try yourself if you need to relieve tension and soreness in your lower back.
Wide Child's Pose
- While on your hands and knees, sit back between your heels, exhaling as you lower your belly between your knees, coming into a Wide Child's Pose.
- Hold for five breaths.
- Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips and your wrists are under your shoulders. Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged. Take a big, deep inhale.
- On the exhale, round your spine up toward the ceiling, and imagine you're pulling your belly button up toward your spine, really engaging your abs. Tuck your chin toward your chest, and let your neck release. This is your cat-like shape.
- On your inhale, arch your back, let your belly relax, and go loose. Lift your head and tailbone up toward the sky — without putting any unnecessary pressure on your neck. This is the Cow portion of the pose.
- Continue flowing back and forth from Cat Pose to Cow Pose, and connect your breath to each movement — inhale for Cow Pose, and exhale on Cat Pose.
- Repeat for 10 rounds, or as long as needed to loosen up your back.
Knees to Chest
- Lie on your back, bending your knees into your chest and clasping your hands around both shins.
- Gently pull down to increase the stretch in the lower back. Nod your head from side to side. If it feels good, rock gently from side to side to massage your lower back.
- Relax like this for five breaths.
- Begin sitting with your legs extended in front of you. Slowly roll onto your back, raising your hips into the air. Interlace the fingers in a double fist to help draw the shoulder blades together, and extend the arms straight.
- Extend your legs over your head, hips over your shoulders. It's OK if your feet don't touch, or if you have to bend your legs a bit.
- Hold for five breaths and then slowly lower your hips to the floor, lowering one vertebra at a time. Hug your knees into your chest.
- Start in Plow Pose.
- Bring your hands to your lower back, fingertips pointing toward the ceiling. Keeping your elbows on the ground and in line with your shoulders, slowly lift one leg straight up and then the other. The toes should stack directly over the hips, which are stacked over the shoulders.
- Stay here for 10 breaths.
- To get out of the pose, slowly bring one leg back over your head, then the other, until you're back in Plow Pose. Gently lower your back, hips, and legs to the ground.
- Lie flat on your back with your arms close to your sides, palms facing down. Keeping your bum on the floor, inhale as you press your hands and forearms into the ground to arch your back, lifting your shoulders off the floor. Tilt your head backward and rest the top of your head on the floor.
- Keeping your legs strong, hold for five breaths. Then lower back to the mat.
For more support, grab a block and try a Supported Fish Pose.
Lying Spinal Twist
- Lie on your back, bending your knees into your chest.
- Extend your arms out in T-position.
- Slowly lower both knees to the right. Rest them on the ground, and turn your head to the left. You can increase the stretch by crossing the left knee over the right thigh.
- Hold here for at least five breaths, feeling your spine lengthen and twist. You may even hear some "cracks."
- Use your abs to lift your knees back to center, then repeat on the other side.