Poor flexibility and weakening of the lower back muscles are two of the main reasons for lower back pain. However, low back pain can be greatly reduced with specific stretching and strengthening exercises, However, you must apply the right stretching techniques, and the recommended intensity, frequency and repetitions when you perform your stretches for lower back pain.
There are three modes(techniques) of stretching exercises. Based on studies, they are all effective in increasing general muscles’ strength, and flexibility. Each has its own advantages.
1.Ballistic or (Dynamics)stretching
2.Static or (Slow-sustained)stretching
3.PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching
Perform with jerky, rapid and bouncy movements that provide the force needed to lengthen the muscles. Although it helps to increase flexibility, it is likely to cause soreness and injury from small tears to soft tissues.
Muscles are lengthened gradually through a joint’s full range of motion (ROM), and the final position is held for a few seconds. A slow-sustained stretch allows the muscles to relax and thereby achieve greater length. This type of stretching creates minimal pain and the risk for injury is low.
This stretching technique is based on a method of “contract and relax” and requires assistance of another person. The person who is assisting provides the initial force by pushing in direction of the desired stretch and the person being stretched then applies the force in the opposite direction, against the force of the assistant.
Due to the delicate nature of the back, and also to avoid further aggravation of the back, whenever you are performing your stretches for lower back pain, of the three techniques mentioned above, you may want to avoid ballistic stretching technique, due to the risk of injury. If you have someone to work with, you may consider PNF technique. However, slow-sustained technique is not only great because of the low risk for injury, but it’s also a technique that you can perform on your own.
For safety and greater benefits, it also is important that you follow the recommended intensity, frequency and repetition outlined below:
refers to how forceful or the degree to which the stretches are applied. The recommendation is that you only perform each stretch to the point of mild discomfort. Excessive pain is a signal that the load is too much and may cause injury.
This refers to how often you perform your stretches. In the case of stretches for lower back pain, it is recommended that you perform your stretches 5-6 times per week, during the early stages of your program. However, after a minimum of 6-8 weeks of almost daily stretching you may switch to 2-3 times per week with 3 repetitions of 10-25 seconds each.
This is the number of times you repeat the stretches during an exercise session. The recommendation is that you repeat each exercise 4-5 times, holding your final position each time for about 10- 30 seconds. You may gradually increase the time each repetition is held to a maximum of 1 minute as flexibility increases. However, if you are susceptible to injuries you shouldn’t stretch for more than 20 seconds.
If you carefully follow these recommendations and techniques when performing your stretches for lower back pain, you can significantly reduce episodes of lower back pain.