Stretching and an active lifestyle are often recommended to help reduce back pain and speed the recovery process following an injury. Improving flexibility through stretching is also an excellent way to avoid future injuries. Depending upon your individual injury and level of pain, the exercise and rehabilitation program may vary. The key is to start slowly and increase repetitions as you feel stronger. Consult with Dr. Kevin or Dr. Mary prior to starting a new exercise program, especially when associated with low back pain. Dr. Kevin or Dr. Mary can help develop an individualized program and provide instruction on proper stretching technique.
Passive stretches help facilitate movement in the affected muscle or joint. Stretches should be held for 15 or 30 seconds, allowing muscles to gradually relax and lengthen. Stretches should never cause pain nor should you feel tingling in the extremities. Stop immediately if you experience any discomfort. Below are two examples of stretches for the low back and lower extremities.
Piriformis Stretch: The piriformis muscle runs through the buttock and can contribute to back and leg pain. To stretch this muscle, lie on your back and cross one leg over the other then gently pull the knee toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock area.
Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back with both legs straight. Bend one leg at the knee and extend one leg straight up in the air. Loop a towel over the arch of the lifted foot, and gently pull on the towel as you push against it with your foot; you should feel a stretch in the back of your thigh.