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The WORST Back Pain Stretches

This is not medical advice. If you’ve recently had an accident, go see a doctor.

It’s very common for personal trainers to recommend stretching your lower back if it feels stiff. This is wrong in 99% of cases and in this post I explain why.


The worst stretches for low back pain

Rule of Progress: We must address the cause, not the effect!

After you perform the stretches above, you’ll typically experience 15-20 minutes of relief due to inflammation in the low back area and something called the stretch reflex, which is a neurological phenomenon that temporarily reduces pain sensitivity.

The problem is when you perform these stretches you’re actually re-aggravating your discs, and after the temporary relief, the pain will return often worse than before!

Instead of focusing on the site of pain (effect), focus your energy on other tight parts of the body that caused your stiff back in the first place (cause)!


Global vs Local Perspective

In 1979, Dr. Vladimir Janda defined his crossed syndromes, which describe how certain muscles in the human body tend to be tight, while others tend to be weak.

The solution to your stiff low back is to look at your body from a GLOBAL perspective because this allows us to focus on the CAUSE of your back pain and create lasting improvements!


Better Stretches for Low Back Pain

The first warm-up stretch that is recommended by low back pain expert Stuart Mcgill is the cat-camel stretch. This will help to lubricate your spine and prepare you for any further stretching. Perform 6-8 repetitions of the cat camel exercise.

The standing hip flexor stretch will help to loosen the deep hip flexor muscles that are a primary cause for most back pain. Perform 6-8 repetitions of the walking Psoas Stretch exercise.

Arms overhead or hang from a bar for 30-60 seconds to reduce the stress placed on your lower back from extended amounts of sitting throughout the day.

Stretching the lower back is not always a bad thing, for instance the Jefferson Curl exercise is a great way to strengthen your back, but if you’re currently experiencing back pain, there are many better options to try first.

Although stretching is a necessary part of any training program, without strengthening exercises you won't find lasting change.

If you have back pain, the key thing that works in most cases is to stretch your hip flexors and strengthen your glutes.

Next time your personal trainer or physical therapist recommends you stretch your lower back, tell them to google “Dr. Stuart Mcgill Stretch Reflex”. If you want to learn more about Dr. Vladimir Janda, there are several books on Amazon that can help your study.

If you'd like to work with me to improve your chronic pain and get phenomenal fitness results, schedule a fitness consultation here.

Hope this helps! - Tom

1 Comment

Feb 05, 2023

Great to know! Thanks as always for your informed perspective.

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