This is a continuation of my first post on back pain. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here.
Stretches: Reversing the Damage
Typically, lower back pain from sitting leads to tight hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, glutes, and piriformis. In plain English, you need to stretch the muscles around your thighs, your hips, and your ass. I’m sure the last thing you want to be doing is adding another activity to your busy schedule (I tried getting a stretching routine in after work for months and failed to make it a habit), so I found the following stretches after trying all kinds of different ones. The best part? Aside from the fact that they work, they’re also forgiving enough so that you can actively use your phone, read a book, or watch TV while doing them. You’re welcome. Sometimes I feel like I work so hard to be lazy.
For all these stretches, focus on these things:
- Hold the stretch for at least 90 to 120 seconds for each side, but you can even do them for 5-10 minutes. Entertain yourself with your phone while you stretch or something.
- When stretching, don’t push yourself too hard. At most, you should feel slight discomfort during the stretch.
- The best time to do them would be towards the end of the day after you return home.
There are three stretches that will get you the most bang for your buck here. These include:
- Couch stretch (1:30-2:10 for video demo)
- Piriformis stretch (2:12-2:43 for video demo)
- Legs up the wall (You won’t need a video demo for this one)
For the couch stretch, put a pillow underneath your knee if you need padding. Make sure your body is upright so that you feel this stretch in your quads and hip flexors.
This one can be done while standing or on a knee. You’ll feel this stretch on and around your butt.
Feet Up Against Wall
Get as close to the wall as possible to get that 90 degree bend. Once you’re lying down, try to pull your navel into the floor. You’ll feel this one in your hamstrings and lower back.
Putting it all Together
Throughout the two posts, we covered the fact that lower back pain typically comes from poor sitting positioning. To fix this, we have to correct our sitting positioning and actively remember to maintain this position, which is harder than most people think. Ideally, check your position every half hour. After you get home from work, grab your phone (or a book) and stretch. Remember how effective those brief, ten-second stretches were in grade school gym class? Me neither. Get in those stretches and stay there for a while. Your body will thank you. At two minutes per side, that adds up to four minutes in the couch stretch, four minutes in piriformis stretch, and 2 minutes for feet up against the wall. That’s ten minutes. Do you spend at least ten minutes per day on your phone at home? No? Don’t lie to me. Exactly.
As soon as your positioning is fixed, expect to feel significantly better in your body! You may find that this will also fix stiffness in other areas such as your neck and shoulders.
You should be able to perform simple maintenance on your body. This is practically one of the least intrusive daily habits you can implement, since you’ll be on your phone at home anyway. If you spend more on car parts than you do on your body, consider reassessing your priorities. I have nothing against cars, but as cars start to break down over time, they can be replaced and so can those parts. Your body breaking down over time? It’s a slippery slope. I guess you can finally do that surgery where you transplant your head into someone else’s body due to scientific advances. However, if I were to take a wild guess, Frankenstein surgery is probably very expensive. I’d rather spend my money on steak tacos, but I’d happily settle for al pastor burritos from Taqueria Diana too.