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Back Pain: Home Managements #1 - Low back flexibility exercises - Physiotherapy Treatment

Updated on October 27, 2014

Introduction

A tight low back or inflexible lumbar spine will impede trunk flexion. The inflexibility of the low back can be noticed at the time of the examination of the patient. When the low back is flexed, in such cases, pain may be elicited at the low back. If the inflexibility and in-elasticity of the low back is noticed, it must be made flexible and stretchable. In such cases, exercise programmes must be aimed at keeping the muscles and the ligaments at the low back stretched.

Exercise in Siting position
Exercise in Siting position

Exercises in the sitting position

  1. Low back stretching can be done initially in a sitting position. The patient sits in a chair. In this seated position, the patient places his arms between his legs and then bend forward and gently reaching for the floor. Avoid bouncing. Bouncing defeats the purpose of stretching exercises. Hold this stretched position for five seconds.Then return to the sitting position. Repeat the exercise for ten times.
  2. The same exercise can be done by using one stretched hand keeping the other flexed hand on the patient’s lap.The patient keeps the stretched hand between the legs and bend forward slowly and gently, reaching for the floor diagonally.Hold this stretched position for five seconds. Then return to the sitting position. Repeat the same with the other hand.Repeat the exercise for ten times.

Top: How to flex; Bottom: How to descend (legs one by one)
Top: How to flex; Bottom: How to descend (legs one by one)
Flexion exercise with one one leg, keeping the other leg straight
Flexion exercise with one one leg, keeping the other leg straight

Exercise in the lying position

  1. The low back stretching exercise can also be done in a lying position. Lie on one’s back on a hard surface or on floor with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Now, feel the low back flat on the floor. Now the exercise is done by slowly and gently pulling both the knees towards the chest. Avoid bouncing’. Bouncing defeats the purpose of a stretch exercise. Hold in this stretched position for five seconds or until it is felt that there is relaxation and stretching of low back muscles and ligaments.This exercise must be done in such a way that while doing it the buttocks is slightly raised from the floor. Merely bringing the knees to the chest may not stretch the low back. Once the maximum stretching of the low back is achieved,each leg may be lowered slowly to place the foot flat on the ground, maintaining the knee and the hip in the flexed position. Now straighten the legs one by one. Straightening one leg at a time is preferable to straightening both the legs simultaneously. If both the legs are lowered simultaneously it may hurt and cause pain to the low back.
  2. The same exercise can be repeated with one leg at a time, keeping the other leg straight.

Yoga exercise for back pain
Yoga exercise for back pain

Yoga exercise

Another low back flexibility exercise is the 'YOGA' exercise. In this exercise, the patient primarily assumes a squatting position with the knees and the hips bent. The feet are flat on the floor.

Now the low back is gradually flexed forward so that the head approaches the floor. This is continued till the maximum stretch is felt at the low back. Hold in this maximum stretched position for five seconds. Now slowly and gradually come back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise for ten times.

Exercise on kneeling position
Exercise on kneeling position

Exercise in the kneeling position

Another simple low back flexibility exercise can be done in the 'KNEELING' position. In this exercise, the patient primarily assumes a kneeling position with his head upwards. Now the low back sags down. Now the sagged back is pulled up to its fullest. Now bring the head downwards. In this position the muscles and ligaments of the back are stretched to the maximum. When the maximum stretched position is attained, hold it for five seconds. Now slowly and gently come back to the starting position. Repeat the exercise for ten times. This exercise also strengthens the abdominal muscles.

Exercise in half-kneeling position
Exercise in half-kneeling position

Exercise in half-kneeling position

The patient holds a half kneeling position. Now he bends his hips and knees and sits down on his feet. Now he bends his body forward with his hands stretched and face towards the floor. When the maximum stretched position is attained hold it for five seconds. Then slowly and gently come back to the original position. Repeat the exercise for ten times.

The exercise to be avoided

The exercise commonly advised to stretch the low back is the one which can be done in a standing position. In this exercise the patient is advised to bend down to touch the floor or toes with the finger tips while he is standing with the legs straight. This is an exercise that should be avoided. This exercise defeats the purpose of a stretch exercise. Even a normal person without a back pain cannot do this exercise. This hurts the back and increases the symptoms.

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I hope this article was useful for you all. If you have any questions, feel free to post them below or contact me on

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    • expertphysio profile imageAUTHOR

      Padmakumar Johnson 

      5 years ago from India

      Glad I could help, Alise :)

    • profile image

      Alise- Evon 

      5 years ago

      Great exercises! I find myself spontaneously doing some of these when my back is tight, but you provided some extra details that are appreciated.

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