What Are the Safest Stretches for L5-S1?

A group stretch on the beach.
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Your lumbar and sacral vertebrae are part of your lower back region. You have five lumbar vertebrae and five sacral vertebrae, the latter of which are fused together to form the sacrum. The two areas meet at the L5 and S1 vertebrae. This part of your spine can become stiff with age and lack of use. Your doctor may recommend gentle stretches to regain mobility in this area.


Cat and Cow Poses

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Taken from yoga, the Cat-Cow stretch is helpful for flexing and extending your lumbar spine safely, promoting healthy range of motion. Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Your back should be neutral and your gaze is on the ground. Inhale, draw your shoulder blades together and allow your stomach to sink toward the floor, arching your back. Look up toward the ceiling and hold the position for a few seconds. Exhale and bring your head down, rounding your back up to the ceiling using your abdominal muscles. Hold this pose for a few seconds and move back to neutral spine. Repeat the exercise a few times

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Knees to Chest

A simple exercise, this stretch is beneficial both for the lower lumbar spine and the sacrum. Lie on your back on a mat or the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Bring your right knee into your chest and press it close to you using your hands. Slowly release the leg and bring it back to the mat. Bend your left knee, pulling it into your chest. Release and pull both knees into your chest.


Pelvic Tilt

Lie on your back on the floor or a mat with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your abdominals by drawing your navel in toward your spine. Keeping your lower back on the mat, lift your hips upward. Hold this position for five to 10 seconds and repeat 10 to 20 times.

Revolved Staff Pose

Staff pose is normally reserved to correct posture and strengthen the quad muscles. But when you inject a twisting movement, you can safely and gently stretch your sacral spine. Sit on the floor or mat with your legs out-stretched in front of you. Move the flesh of your buttocks out to the sides, to better connect with the floor. Flex your feet upward. Sit up tall and place your left hand on your right outer knee. Place the fingertips of your right hand on the floor behind you. As you exhale, twist your upper torso to the right. Look over your right shoulder and breathe normally for up to 30 seconds. repeat on the other side.



Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.

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