Lower Back Stretches to Relieve Pinched Nerves

Close-up Of Young Businesswoman On Chair Having Backpain In Office
Back pain can be caused by pinched nerves. (Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images)

Pain, tingling and even weakness in the legs may be caused by pinched nerves in the lower back. These nerves can be pinched right at the spine or in muscles as they travel down to your leg. Stretches relieve some of the pressure on pinched nerves. However, some positions might increase your pain. Consult your doctor before performing stretches.

Sporty smiling attractive young woman practicing yoga, sitting in Half lord of the fishes exercise, Ardha Matsyendrasana pose, working out, outdoor full length, street background, looking at camera
The piriformis muscle can also be stretched in a seated position. (Image: fizkes/iStock/Getty Images)

Piriformis Stretch

Tightness in the piriformis muscle in the buttock often leads to pinched nerves travelling from the lower back.

Step 1

Lie on your back on a firm surface. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground.

Step 2

To stretch your right piriformis, cross your right ankle over your left thigh so that your ankle rests just above your left knee.

Step 3

Slowly lift your left foot off the ground, bringing both legs toward you. Stop when you feel a stretch in your right buttock. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times. Switch legs and stretch your left piriformis.

young woman and man doing yoga exercise Cobra in special studio
Relax your back muscles during the extension stretch. (Image: NewAgeCinema_ru/iStock/Getty Images)

Lumbar Extension

Lumbar extension stretches bend your spine backward.

Step 1

Lie on your stomach on a firm surface. Place your forearms on the ground. Pull your elbows back until your hands rest under your shoulders.

Step 2

Keeping your back muscles relaxed, slowly press up through your forearms. Keep your hips on the floor.

Step 3

Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then slowly lower back down. Repeat three times. To increase the amount of stretch, press up until you are supporting your upper body on your palms with your elbows straight.

Beautiful young woman with tattoo on her foot meaning 'Wild cat' working out against grey wall, doing yoga or pilates exercise. Cat, Marjaryasana, asana paired with Cow Pose on the inhale. Full length
Knee to chest stretches can be substituted for quadruped flexion stretches. (Image: fizkes/iStock/Getty Images)

Lumbar Flexion

Lumbar flexion is rounding of the lower back. This movement can be performed in several different positions if it is difficult for you to be on your hands and knees.

Step 1

Get on your hands and knees. Position your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.

Step 2

Drop your chin down toward your chest. Slowly arch your back up toward the ceiling. Tuck your tailbone in to stretch the bottom of your spine.

Step 3

Round your back until you feel a stretch along your lower back. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat three times.

Physiotherapist is rehabilitating young woman back in medical office
Stretches can also be performed by a physical therapist. (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images)

Rotation

Rotation stretches should be performed in both directions.

Step 1

Lie on your back on a firm surface. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground.

Step 2

Keeping your knees together, slowly drop them to one side until you feel a stretch on the opposite side of your lower back. Keep your shoulder blades on the ground throughout this movement.

Step 3

Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat three times. Perform this stretch on the opposite side.

Cork, Ireland
Lower back stretches can be performed with an exercise ball. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Ball Walk-Outs

Lower back stretches might be more comfortable with an exercise ball supporting some of your body weight. Perform these exercises while seated in a chair if you are unable to kneel.

Step 1

Kneel on a firm, padded surface with a large exercise ball close in front of you. Place your hands on the ball.

Step 2

Walk the ball out away from you until you feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.

Step 3

Walk the ball out at a 45 degree angle -- approximately halfway between straight out front and out to the side -- to increase the stretch on one side of your lower back at a time. You should feel the stretch on the opposite side of the direction the ball is pointing. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times on each side.

Self-Traction

Traction reduces pressure on pinched nerves by gently pulling the bones in your spine away from each other. Stretching techniques allow you to perform lower back traction to yourself.

Step 1

Sit in a chair with armrests. Place your hands on the armrests and press down, but do not lift your buttocks off the seat. In this position, you should feel decreased pressure throughout your lower back. Hold as long as you are able and repeat several times.

Step 2

Perform self-traction in standing by positioning yourself between two sturdy objects such as the back of chairs. Place one hand on each surface and straighten your elbows fully. Bend your knees to reduce the amount of weight through your legs. You should feel a pulling sensation in your lower back. Hold as long as possible, then relax. Repeat several times.

Step 3

Use a countertop to perform self-traction. Stand facing the counter and rest your forearms on top of it. Lean your body weight over your forearms. Bend your knees slightly to reduce the amount of pressure through your lower back. Hold as long as possible and repeat several times.

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