Lower back pain can stem from your spine and the sacroiliac joint that connects the bottom of your spine with your pelvis. At its most painful, your back can feel locked in place, as if it won’t rotate easily from your right-turning position. While the prospect of exercising your back may seem difficult, gentle exercises can help loosen the tightened muscles that lock your back in place. Always speak with your physician, however, before undertaking any exercises that could potentially affect your back health.
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Flexion and Extension
When your spine is locked in right rotation, it typically is locked in either flexion or extension. Flexion is when you are slightly bent or stooped forward to the right, while extension is where your back is slightly backward to the right. To relieve some of your lower back pain, you can practice flexion exercises, which can help “unlock” the locked portions of your back by freeing up joint space. Conversely, extension exercises can take pressure off your lower spine.
One example of flexion, or forward-bending, exercise is the head-to-knee-stretch. This stretch involves sitting with your right leg extended to your side and your left leg tucked in toward your pelvis. You can place a small pillow slightly underneath your left buttocks to relieve unevenness that results from your locked spinal rotation. Slowly bend forward toward your right leg, imagining you are stretching from your groin, not your hip. Elongate your back and hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds, as you are able. Repeat the stretch two to three times, then switch to your opposite leg.
When your back is locked in a right rotation, performing exercises that encourage extension can help relieve tight ligaments and muscles and attempt to stretch the back evenly. The key to extension exercises is not to push yourself too far. The press-up, or cobra, exercise is an example. To perform this exercise, lie on your stomach and put your palms on the floor beside your shoulders. Push against your hands to lift your upper back slightly off the floor. You should feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold this position for five seconds, then work your way up to additional repetitions and time frames.
A right-locked spine can make it difficult to evenly move your pelvis through stretches. For example, from your knees, you may stretch forward and find your right pelvis comes slightly forward instead of pulling backward as your left side does. To relieve this tension, you can perform rocking exercises that can help “unstick” your pelvis and improve rotation. One example is the sacral “rock” exercise. To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor. Keep your lower back on the ground as you rock your pelvis forward and back into place in a slow, controlled motion. If possible, try to rotate your pelvis side-to-side to relieve tension in this area.