May 112010

Stretching is one of the best remedies for accumulated tension in your muscles, and we all know how much tension tends to accumulate in the lower back area – this is what makes stretching it a common necessity for many people, both hobbyist bodybuilders as well as professional athletes. We’ve provided some simple tips for stretching your lower back below, which will hopefully make this a bit easier for you.

A chair can be very useful for stretching the back, and can be utilized in several ways. For your first stretching exercise, you can try the following: first, sit in a chair in a normal sitting position, your feet touching the ground. Then, using your left hand, hold on to the chair’s seat and slowly turn your body to the left, so that you’re looking backwards over the shoulder. You should hold yourself in this position for several seconds – it’s best to measure in breaths – then release it and face in the default direction. You should repeat this 3-5 times, switching sides so that you equally stretch both.

Another exercise you can do with a chair starts in the same position as above, only this time you’ll be lowering your upper body so that your chest eventually touches your thighs/knees. The ultimate goal is for your hands to be touching the ground – after you’ve reached this position, hold it for several seconds, just as described above. Release by raising yourself and repeat 3-5 times.

There are, of course, exercises for lower back stretching that don’t involve using a chair. For example, you can use the “cat stretch” – get on the ground on all fours (you can use your bed if you’re not comfortable on the ground), then begin raising your head slowly. In the same time, lower your middle torso (around the abdominal area) to the ground, which will curve your back into an arch. Keep going like this until you can no longer do it comfortably, and retain this position for a few seconds. Then, the second phase of the exercise involves stretching your back in the exact opposite direction – raise your spine up and lower your head in the same time, bringing your chin as close to your chest as possible.

To get the best out of the cat stretch, you should start doing it in the opposite directions repeatedly, increasing the pace and distance little by little with each repetition. You should feel a great sense of relief in the end.

Breathing is very important when stretching – remember to breathe in and breathe out as you’re performing the various parts of the stretching exercise, as this will properly supply oxygen to your muscles and help them relax and stretch properly. Proper breathing technique takes a lot of time to master on its own, but it will bring you a lot of benefit in your stretching exercises if you take some time to learn it.

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