The muscles of the Lower Back can often become a problem area. This week, we asked our Teacher’s about their “Go-To” postures and tips for loosening and softening the Lower Back:
When I have a stiff lower back I do a few pelvic rolls and it usually helps. Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Your arms are resting along side your body. Bring your awareness to your breath as it passes through your nostrils. Gently allow the breath to deepen. As you inhale draw the breath into the abdomen. Rolling over the back of the hips allow the small of the back to arch away from the floor, the tailbone reaching down. As you exhale lightly press the low back into the mat, the tailbone points up. Keep rolling back and forth over the back of the pelvis with the breath. After several breaths release the effort and imagine your breath flowing into the back body and softening the muscles.
I recommend a modified puppy dog posture. Start on all fours walk hands away from you and rest on your forearms, relax the shoulders and core. Also a wonderful counter pose after back bends is to lie on back , hug knees into your body and rock side to side which massages the lower back.
One of my favorites, as anyone who comes to one of my classes knows, is using a block, at its lowest level, stretched horizontally from hip to hip under the glutes (settled under the sacrum and none on the low back) like supported bridge. To start, make sure both feet are flat, knees bent and pointed to the sky. Then, slide the right leg straight along the floor and then lift the left knee and pull it in towards you. Let your body lean back. Feel the block pressing your hips higher to the sky and feel the stretch in the front of the right hip. Come through flat feet and switch. Come back to supported bridge once you’ve done both sides and take the block out from underneath your hips and roll down. Sometimes our hip flexors (at the front of the hip) are tighter than all the other muscles pulling the hips into alignment and this creates an over-arching in the low back, causing pain. Once you learn this one, you will love it! If one hip feels tighter than the other, linger on it longer.
Low back issues can be from various causes, but here is one scenario to contribute: If one has pain with back bends, the reason may be that the low back is overly compressed because the pelvis is in too much anterior tilt (butt is going up towards the back, rather than away) Try making sure the buttocks is descending before the backbend begins.
My go-to for low back is happy baby. Lie on back w/legs up in air. Keep knees very bent to start and reach for your big toes w/fingers or hands. If you can’t reach toes comfortably without lifting head then bring hands to feet, ankles, lower leg or behind knee until you find comfort. Now gently rock on back getting that massage all over your back but mostly in lower part. You can stretch and straighten legs if you want for different sensations.