Let’s give it up for our backs. These big, beautiful collections of muscles, ligaments and bones do so much for us. From keeping us upright, helping us move our entire body, bearing the weight of our backpacks, to ensuring our internal organs are kept safe and sound, they work hard every second of the day.
That’s why we wanted to share a few stretches that help keep your back loose, limber and healthy. Stretching is frequently overlooked (boo!), but we’re here with some quick tips to show you how easy it is.
These moves don’t have to be reserved for use in the yoga studio or gym floor. Oh no. If you experience back pain these stretches can be done on the daily, wherever you’ve got some room and whenever you’ve got some time. The routine below has been devised by our Lead Therapist Nadège, who also happens to be a qualified yoga teacher. It’s a mix of gentle yoga poses, and tougher stretches that use a ball and foam roller. Take a look and choose the ones that work for you.
You might know this stretch from your yoga class (or Insta feed). It’s a simple move that can help you feel more balanced and coordinated. How? It boosts mobility and flexibility by creating space between each of the vertebrae and stretching the muscles alongside the spine.
When you combine the cow pose with the cat pose, you’ll be working to improve your spine’s mobility and flexibility some more. This is a great pose for stretching out the core muscles, especially the abs.
Happy baby pose & variation
Other than having a rather lovely name, the happy baby pose helps to stretch the lower back muscles, gluteus maximus (the larger glute muscle) and hamstrings. It also helps relieve pain in the lower back and at the bottom of the spine leaving you feeling, well, like a rather happy baby.
The chances are, you’ve never heard of the Iliopsoas muscle before, but you use it every day. It’s your inner hip muscle, and is key when it comes to walking and sitting. Because it’s used so much, toxins can build up in that area, so make sure you take the time to give it some TLC with this stretch. Doing this regularly can also help prevent lower back pain. Win-win!
The piriformis is one of the deep gluteus muscles that holds a lot of tension. It’s a little muscle that can cause a lot of trouble if not given the attention it needs. Stretching it helps to maintain a healthy back and hamstrings, as well as reducing sciatic nerve pain.
What’s with the animals, you ask? Frankly, we don’t know. But what we do know is the pigeon pose is perfect for stretching the piriformis some more. It stretches the maximus and minimus gluteus too, which can cause lower back pain if they’re tight. Keep your shoulders up and you’ll also stretch your iliopsoas. This is a great pose to settle and relax the mind and also release tension in your hip area.
Nope, ‘King Pigeon’ isn’t a scary vision into the future, it’s just a regal version of the pose before, that pushes the stretch deep into the glutes, and extends it into the large back muscles including a forward bend.
This move is a tried-and-tested physiotherapy technique that stretches the posterior fascia and kinetic chain. By gently touching your toes and ankles together in turn you’ll help to restore global mobility of muscles and joints.
Deep iliopsoas stretch
If you’re a foam roller fanatic, this one’s for you. If you’re not familiar with them, we’d advise skipping this move on your routine.
By using a foam roller, you’ll get a much deeper stretch of the iliopsoas, as well decompressing your spine. Go gently.
Periformis release with ball
The piriformis sits deep inside your leg muscles, and due to its hard-to-reach nature it’s difficult to target with classic stretching. However, a small ball – like a tennis ball – is perfect for helping you to hit the trigger points. You’ll know when you’ve found it as you’ll get a spike of pain, which indicates an imbalance in the muscle that needs to be treated. This release will also be a great pain reliever for any sciatic nerve pain (but only do it if you don’t have no inflammation in this area). Always roll safe.
Remember, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine. You can mix and match the stretches that you find comfortable and effective to create your own session. Always take your time as you adjust to a new pose, and make sure you drink plenty of water afterwards. All that stretching and twisting will release impurities from your muscles; water is the best way to ensure they get flushed out.
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