Labor Day Low Back Love!
Let’s face it, life has been challenging lately. You’ve probably been under more than the usual amount of stress… and if you are now working from home like so many people, chances are you are sitting more (and moving less) than ever before. This is a perfect recipe for a low back that feels achy and tight.
So instead of an at home workout to keep you going this long weekend, here is a restorative session to show your low back some love! Keep in mind that if you have an injury to your low back, arthritis, disc issues, or other back concerns, not everything in this practice might be appropriate, so proceed with caution. Check out this video, and keep reading below for the details:
- Cat / Cow – From a quadruped position, inhale as you arch (extend) your spine, exhale as you round (flex). Go slowly and coordinate your breath to the movement, increasing your range of motion gradually, and only to the point of feeling no pain.
- Childs Pose with Lat Stretch – Take your knees wide and your big toes toward each other. Sit your hips back toward your heels. Stretch your arms out long in front of you, come onto your fingertips, and actively draw your shoulder blades down your back, away from your ears. Then walk your hands over to the right slightly, keeping your left hip sitting toward your left heel to feel a stretch through your left lat. Then repeat on the right.
- Hip Flexor Stretch with Reach – From half kneeling with your right knee down, find a tall posture where your head is stacked over your ribs, your ribs are over your hips, and your right hip is over your right knee. Tuck your pelvis slightly under (posterior tilt), brace your core, and squeeze your glutes. Maintaining those actions, reach your right arm up in line with your body. For a more intense stretch, reach with your right arm diagonally back and toward the left, and place your left hand on a yoga block on the left side of you, lined up with your right ankle. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Puppy Dog Pose – From quadruped, take your elbows down under your shoulders. Keep your hips stacked over your knees, and walk your hands forward until your arms are straight. Keep your shoulders externally rotated (think of wrapping your triceps around toward the ground) and your shoulder blades down away from your ears, and wide apart across your back. Take your forehead down to rest on your mat, or on a block. Make sure to maintain a neutral spine (don’t arch or round like you did in Cat / Cow) and some core engagement so that the rib cage doesn’t flare out. Find the feeling of pushing the ground away from you and imagine your sacrum and tailbone being “tractioned” away from the rest of your back.
- Bent Knee Down Dog – Come into a tall plank with straight arms, shoulders stacked over the wrists. Lift your hips up and back, keeping the knees bent. Just like in Puppy Dog Pose, your knees will be under your hips, only this time, lifted off the mat. Keeping the knees bent allows you to focus on finding the same neutral spine, the same pushing the ground away, and the same feeling of traction with the sacrum and tailbone. Be sure to maintain the same three actions in the shoulders that you found in Puppy Dog Pose.
- QL Straddle Stretch – Come to seated in a wide straddle with the legs. Sit up tall so you stack your head, chest and pelvis. Take your right arm up overhead, and press your right Ischial Tuberosity (“Sit bone”) down strongly into your mat. Keep the feeling of pressing down through your right “cheek” as you stretch your right arm and torso to the left. You should feel a stretch in your right lower back in the Quadratus Lumborum. Encircle your right wrist with your left fingers and gently pull to add in a stretch of your right lat. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Supported Bridge Pose – On your back, plant your feet in line with your hips, bridge your hips off the mat and place a yoga block under your sacrum at whatever height feels good to you. Close your eyes, breathe and enjoy!
We recommend spending some time in each of these postures to get the most benefit – at least 5 to 10 deep breaths. We hope you have a great long weekend, and take some time to take care of you! Rest, recharge and rejuvenate!