As a Dental Hygienist, and really for as long as I can remember, I have suffered from chronic lower back pain. After I began working full time, even after a few short months I wasn’t sure I could continue. That is, until I found my yoga practice.
My body, especially my back, thanks me when I spend time stretching out my muscles and giving myself some TLC. I thought I would share a few of my favourite stretches that make my back sing and keep my body happy.
*Please keep in mind that these are stretches that have helped me personally and may not be tailored for everyone individually. You know your body best – do not stretch to pain and don’t exceed your own limits.
Floor Twist (Relieves back tension)
- To begin, lay relaxed, flat on your back, palms facing the sky
- Bend right knee (foot to left knee)
- As you exhale, guide your right knee with left hand to fold over your body
- You can bring your right arm out to a ‘T’ shape, or goal post
- Hold for 5-10 breaths
- Repeat on other side
** Remember – keep both shoulders on the ground at all times. Twist should be lower back and down. Feel free to use a prop under your knee if you can’t reach the floor.
Seated Forward Fold (helps to release spine and stretch hammies)
- Begin in a seated position with a straight back and legs pointing forward
- Raise arms overhead and while keeping a straight spine, begin to bend at your hips
- Remember – try not to round your back!
- Reach for your toes. If you cannot do so without starting to compress your back, use a prop (e.g.. a strap) to help guide your body forward while maintaining correct posture
- Hold for 5-10 breaths
Child’s Pose (a calming pose that relieves back & neck tension)
- Kneel on floor with big toes touching
- Begin to fold forward over your knees
- You can either reach forward with your arms or rest forearms on the floor next to your body
- This is a calming position. Hold for as long as you’d like
** You may also choose to do a wide legged child’s pose (I prefer to keep my knees together as it rounds my spine more)
Plow Pose (stretches out the back)
- Begin by laying flat on your back
- As you press into your hands, begin to raise your legs to a 90 degree angle
- Keeping your legs straight and toes pointing down, bring feet over head
- REMEMBER TO BREATHE
- Gradually lower toes to your mat
- You can rest hands on floor or bring to lower back for support
** Remember, if you can’t bring toes to floor, try placing a pillow or block underneath for support
Cat-Cow Pose (stretches out the spine)
- Begin on all 4s
- Ensure your back is in a neutral position – head forward and gaze towards the ground
- As you inhale, lift neck and gaze upward as you arch spine downward
- Then, as you exhale, arch your spine in upward direction and let head drop between arms. Gaze downward
- Repeat a few sequences to warm up spine
Happy Stretching 🙂