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9.29.2 Lower back pain: Stretching


This article is from the Bicycles FAQ, by Mike Iglesias with numerous contributions by others.

9.29.2 Lower back pain: Stretching

Stretching is an important way to achieve flexibility and improve your
posture. A very useful stretch is to place you hands on you butt and
push your hips forward while standing:


you should feel this in the front of your hips. Tight hip flexors
prevent an upright posture. After a few seconds, arch your back and
slide your hands down the back of your thighs:


This movement puts the arch in you low back. You can do this stretch
many times a day. It is particularly useful to do it periodically when
you have to sit or ride for an extended period of time.

A more potent stretch that can be done a couple of times a day starts
with you lying on your front. Using your arms, push your shoulders off
the floor. Don't lift with your back. Keep your low back as relaxed as
possible. Let your hips hang down, staying as close to the floor as


This is a powerful stretch and should be started gradually. Otherwise,
it can do more harm than good. However, done properly, it can be
enormously helpful. Over a period of weeks, you should gradually
increase the height you achieve and the time you hold the position. It
is also less stressful to do this stretch for short periods with a little
rest than for a long period (for example, 3 X 10 sec with 5 sec rest
rather than for 30 sec straight).

Once your back starts to heal, you will probably need to stretch it
deliberately. This is apparently because of the scar tissue that built
up during healing. Keep it gentle, especially at first. You could
easily reinjure your back. Here's a good one: lie on your back with your
legs straight. Pull your knees up, grasp your thighs by your hamstrings
and gently pull your knees to your chest.

Stretching the ham strings can also help relieve low back pain. Tight
ham strings tend to pull the pelvis out of line. This can stress your
low back. The problem with most ham string stretches is that they also
tend to stretch the low back by forcing it to round up. The most
appropriate stretch I know requires the use of a doorway. Lie in the
doorway with your butt near the wall. Gently slide your foot up the
wall until you feel the stretch.


Two ways to make the stretch more gentle are (1) bend the lower leg,
keeping only your foot on the floor or (2) move your butt further away
from the wall. To make the stretch more intense, loop a cord or towel
over your raised foot and gently pull it away from the wall. As with all
stretches, this shouldn't hurt.


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previous page: 9.29.1 Lower back pain: Low Back Pain and Posture
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next page: 9.29.3 Lower back pain: Exercises