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Back Pain Center

How to Stretch the L3 of the Lumbar Spine

by
author image Elisha Ryan
Elisha Ryan has been an NASM certified personal trainer since 1999 and a physical therapist since 2011. Ryan holds a Bachelor of Science with a minor in journalism and a master's degree in physical therapy.
How to Stretch the L3 of the Lumbar Spine
A woman is stretching her back in the cat pose. Photo Credit f9photos/iStock/Getty Images

The lumbar part of your spine is your low back, and it consists of five vertebrae which are referred to as L1 through L5. The discs between these vertebrae act as shock absorbers, and they also bear a significant amount of your weight. If your L3 vertebrae is tight, you could experience everything from low-back stiffness to extreme pain and suffering. While you can't isolate the L3 vertebrae, there are stretches you can do that incorporate the lumbar region and help relieve tightness.

Channel Your Inner Cat-Cow

Cat-cow stretch targets the lumbar region and offers the added benefit of an ab workout. Begin on your hands and knees with a neutral spine. Look up as you inhale and drop your abdomen towards the floor. Then exhale as you round your back like an angry cat and drop your head down. During the exhale, pull your abs in tight to engage your core muscles. One round equals a rep so do 10 to 15 reps. Rest for one minute and then repeat.

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Try the Rabbit

Rabbit is a yoga pose that targets the low back but also stretches the entire spine. Start out on your knees and place the top of your head on the floor with your forehead as close to your knees as possible. Preferably, your forehead should be touching your knees, but you may have to work up to that. Reach back and grab your heels in your hands with a tight grip. Slowly lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Keep very little weight on your head and do not lose your grip. Hold as long as possible and slowly release. Rest for one minute and then do a second set.

Make a Half Moon

Half moon pose is another yoga pose that increases flexibility of the spine. Stand with your feet together and your legs straight. Reach both arms up above your head and clasp your hands together. Keep your arms straight and next to your ears as you slowly lean your body to the right. At the same time, gently push your hips in the opposite direction. Only go down as far as your flexibility will allow and to where you can breathe comfortably. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and slowly return to standing. Repeat on the opposite side.

Staying Safe

It's a good idea to check with your doctor before you incorporate these stretches into your daily routine, especially if you have low back pain. Warm up your muscles before stretching with some light cardio, like five to 10 minutes of walking, and pay close attention to your how your body feels as you stretch. Some tightness is to be expected, but do not stretch to the point of pain. Give your body time to respond and allow your flexibility to improve over time. One or two sets of these stretches can be done every day.

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