Low back issues can put a damper on everyday activities. The low back houses your lumbar spine which consists of five vertebrae which are named 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.
Although you can't stretch L3 vertebrae in isolation, lumbar stretches target your entire low back.
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 straight 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 combined movement equals one rep — perform 10 to 15 reps. Rest for one minute and then repeat.
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 you comfortably can 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 where you can still breathe comfortably. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and slowly return to standing. Repeat on the opposite side.
Keep It 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 discomfort or pulling 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.