I wanted to answer a common question I get asked about being stiff which we get asked regularly by our clients at Concentric Rehabilitation Centre:
“Nick, what exercises should I be doing when I first wake up to help relieve some of my lower back stiffness? I’m not in a lot of pain, just incredibly stiff when I wake up and I feel it throughout the day which means I can’t do things as easily as I’d like. Any advice?”
I’ve got plenty of exercises and stretches to help reduce lower back stiffness, but here are my top 13
1.Knee to chest
Laying on your back, gently pull your knees to your chest, holding for a second, then extending your arms back out straight. Hold for 20 seconds, repeat 5 repetitions, perform 3 times per day.
Gently rotate your lumbar spine from side to side with your feet on the ground. Rotate to each side 10 times. Perform 3 times per day
Laying on your stomach, gently press up and extend your lower back. Do not hold this, but repeat the movement 10 times, for 3 sets, three times per day
4. Lower back rotation
Tuck one foot behind the other knee, then gently pull your leg across. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, repeat 5 times each leg, and perform 3 times per day.
Gently curve and flatten your mid back 20 times.
6. Childs Pose
Reach out in front of you, hold this pose for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times.
7. Foam rolling
Place the foam roller under your mid back, keep your backside on the ground, gently extend your spine backward. Hold for 30 seconds at a time.
8. Pelvic Tilts
Laying on your back, arch your lower back, then flatten it into the ground. Perform this 30 times.
9. Spikey ball on glutes
Use a spikey ball to roll out tight muscles in your buttock. Roll the ball around the fleshy part of your buttock for 30 – 60 seconds at a time.
10. Hip flexor stretches
This will stretch out the front of your hip, hold the stretch for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times each leg.
11. Piriformis stretches
This is a strong stretch for your backside, place your leg across over onto your other thigh, and gently lower your buttock to the ground. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat each leg 5 times.
12. Thread the needle
Similar position to downward dog, reach your arm through to give your mid-back a stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times each side.
13. Hamstring stretches
Position yourself on your back, with a stretch band around your foot, hold for 30 seconds, repeat both legs 5 times.
HOWEVER – More importantly to me is you understanding why it is you get stiff in the first place!
It can be easily put down to how old we are, or that it’s ‘just part of ageing’, and although there is some truth to that statement, the amount of stiffness you feel does not have to relate to how old you are.
Yes, as you age, the fluid that lubricates joints decreases, cartilage thins and muscles tighten, but there are some other very important factors at play when it comes to stiffness.
- Not drinking enough fluids and dehydration can also lead to stiff muscles. Muscles are active tissues, which means they’re the kind of tissue that requires the most water in the body.
- Inactivity is another culprit – leaving your muscles in one place for a prolonged period (sleep, sitting in a chair, driving for hours etc.) can cause it to stiffen.
- Another cause can be related to stress – when we’re in a state of stress, our bodies tighten up as preparation for a “fight or flight” situation. Prolonged stress can lead to you maintaining a tight posture, resulting in strain on the muscles.
So there you have it, the top 13 stretches for a stiff lower back AS WELL as 3 reasons why stiffness occurs in the first place.
I strongly recommend that you take this list of exercises to your physiotherapist prior to starting a program of stretching to work out which exercises are best for you.
I hope this article has inspired you to get moving!
if you would like even more information then I have written a special report on the 9 quick easy ways to reduce back pain without having to take pain-killers or having to see your GP. If you would like a copy, please feel free to contact me at the clinic.