– Activities to avoid and change,
– Strategies for quick relief,
– Stretching for longer-lasting relief,
– Corrective Exercises, Yoga, and more…
Activities To Avoid or Change:
Here you will find ways to get relief on your own for pain along one side of the low back. These are reliable self-care strategies that I use in my practice every week. If you’d like to read more about how people describe the problem and activities that aggravate it read this other post.
Avoid spending long periods with your hips flexed. This sleeping position, with the pillow between the legs, is great for relieving hip and low back pain that comes from the gluteal muscles but makes this pain along the low back worse. Driving, working at your desk, and other seated positions should be avoided for extended periods.
For Temporary Relief:
I know it hurts in the back, but if you use ice-and-stretch in the front, it often releases. Stroke the ice along the front of your abdomen from your ribs to below your belly-button. Then, stretch a bit by laying back on a bed or turning your chest toward the sky. This usually offers relief for this pattern. I’ve done this with many clients as a test and pre-treatment.
By the way, you can wear an IcyHot patch over the green asterisk when you sleep and will likely get better relief than putting it on your low back.
These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or doesn’t respond to these simple suggestions.
Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:
Balancing your core can be tricky. Start with the gentle releases and work your way up.
This Upward-Dog position is great for starting the release. She does a great job of lifting moderately without pressing the hips into the mat. Pressing hips into the mat can create pressure on the discs and sharp pain in the low back.
Rectus femoris often contributes to this problem and is not strongly stretched in this pose.
More specific and effective stretching
Kneeling Hip-Flexor Stretch
This kneeling stretch for hip flexors is a classic because it allows you to target the problem and gives you lots of control.
Some people have a problem with knee pain and use a pillow, but the knee pain goes away once the hip flexor muscles, especially the rectus femoris, opens up. Go for gentle repetition and avoid forceful thrusting. This is a particularly useful exercise to implement ice-and-stretch.
Start out lifting just until you get tension. Hold each repetition for about 2 seconds and drop all the way back down. Do 10-20 twice a day or more. This will build the opposing muscles. Lift until you hips are arched above level.
These will be easier if you do 10 reps of the supine twist on each side before your bridges.
For the active body
Walking lunges are great for balancing psoas, erectors and abdominals.
If you have sharp pain at the base of your spine, don’t drop so low into the lunge and spread your feet from side to side. If you still get a sharp pain, go back to bridges or upward dog.
4 sets of 20 reps once or twice each day is a great pace. In between sets, do the supine twist on each side.
I’d love your feedback on how this works for you
and any suggestions you might have.
Email me at [email protected].
Start with gentler poses like the upward dog shown above and progress to more advanced back bends to really open your abdomen and lengthen the psoas.
Back bends with a bent knee help to lengthen a short rectus femoris, which supports chronic hip flexors.
Very Similar Pain Pattern, Different Muscle
Other trigger point patterns
have similar areas of referral and impaired activities.
There are many patterns in the low back and some other that are similar in how they make it feel stiff on one side. Look at this collection of posts on low back pain.
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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.
*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.