You are on page 1of 11

Lower Back - Stretch and Strengthen the Proper Muscles

To avoid potential aches and injuries, the muscles related to the lower back need to be flexible and elastic. When muscles shorten, they lose flexibility and elasticity. When this happens, the muscles cannot properly protect the joints. Tight short muscles can cause injury to the lower back and also affect your posture. You can also develop arthritic degeneration on your lower back.

Lower Back Muscles: There are a large number of muscles in the lower back. Other muscles can also affect the lower back. Some of the muscles that can cause lower back problems (injury, posture, etc.) are: Hip Flexors Gluteal Muscles Abdominal Muscles Thigh Muscles Muscles around the pelvis and muscles that can cause the pelvis to tilt

Hip Flexors: The hip flexors are a group of muscles that act to flex the femur (thigh bone) onto the lumbo-pelvic complex. Iliopsoas (inner hip muscles) psoas major, psoas minor, iliacus Anterior compartmen of thigh rectus femoris, Sartorius Medial compartment of thigh pectineus, adductor longus, adductor brevis, gracillis

Page 1 of 11

Gluteal Muscles: The gluteal muscles are the three muscles that make up the buttocks. Gluteus Maximums Gluteus Medius Gluteus Minimus

Abdominal Muscles: The abdominal muscles are Transversus abdominis Rectus abdominis Pyramidalis - It is located in the lower abdomen in front of the rectus abdominis

Thigh Muscles: The thigh is comprised of quite a few muscles. The main muscles groups are the hamstring group and the quadriceps group. Hamstring group - (back of the thigh) are the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. Page 2 of 11

Quadriceps group - (front of thigh) are the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis. Some other muscles that are on the thigh are the sartorius, iliopsoas, adductor longus, adductor magnus, and gracilis

Pelvis: Muscles and ligaments surround the pelvis and keep it stable as the rest of the body moves. As shown below the pelvis is made up of 6 bones: 2 Ilium bones 2 ischium bones 2 pubic bones

Shown below are the large amounts of ligaments that help keep the pelvis stable.

Page 3 of 11

A neutral pelvis (non-tilting) is vital for maintaining your lower back health. To achieve a neutral pelvis, you need to stretch some areas and strengthen some areas.

Pelvic Tilt: In anatomy, pelvic tilt refers to the orientation of the pelvis in respect to the femurs it rest upon and in space.

Posterior Pelvic Tilt (PPT):

Posterior pelvic tilt (shy-hips stance or plummer posture) can be cause by tight (shortened) hamstring muscles (located at the back of the thighs). PPT can also be caused by tight (shortened) gluteus maxiumus (butt muscle) and abdominal muscles. To achieve and maintain a neutral pelvis, you not only stretch the tight (shortened) muscles you also need to strengthen the following muscles: Page 4 of 11

Quadriceps (front thighs) Erector Spinae (low back muscles) Hip Flexors (Iliopsoas, rectus femoris)

In summary, this is what typically leads to PPT: Lengthened (weak) quadriceps Lengthened (weak) erector spinae Lengthened (weak) hip flexors Shortened (tight) hamstrings Shortened (tight) glutes Shortened (tight) abdominals

Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT):

Anterior pelvic tilt (happy or perky butt) can be caused by tight (shortened) quadricep muscles (located at the front of the thighs). APT can also be caused by tight (shortened) erector spinae (low back muscles) and hip flexors (iliopsoas, quadratus femoris). To achieve and maintain a neutral pelvis, you not only stretch the tight (shortened) muscles you also need to strengthen the following muscles: Hamstrings (posterior thighs) Glutes (butt) Abdominal Musculature (especially the inner core muscles).

In summary, this is what typically leads to APT: Lengthened (weak) hamstrings Lengthened (weak) glutes Lengthened (weak) abdominals Shortened (tight) quadriceps Shortened (tight) erector spinae Page 5 of 11

Shortened (tight) hip flexors

Lateral Pelvic Tilt (LPT): Left pelvic tilt is when the right side of the pelvis is elevated higher than the left side. Right side pelvic tilt is when the left side of the pelvis is elevated higher than the right side. LPT is associated with people that have legs of different length. It can also happen when one leg is bent while the other remains straight.

Stretches:
General Instructions: Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds (at most 60 seconds) Breath into the stretch and relax your muscles when you exhale. Always breath through the stretch If appropriate, repeat the stretch on the opposite side Do approximately six repetitions of the stretch Discontinue any stretch that causes pain

Hamstring Stretches: Hamstrings are the long thick muscles on the back of your legs that flex the knee and extend the hip. Stretch #1:

Instructions: Lay on your back Bend one leg and lift the other leg. Keep the back as straight as possible while you hold on to your thigh Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Stretch #2:

Page 6 of 11

Instructions: Prop one leg up on a chair Straighten your torso Lean forward at the hips and do not slouch Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Quadriceps Stretches: The quadriceps are four muscles located in the front of the thighs. Stretch #1:

Instructions: Lie down on your stomach Grab the front of your ankle with your hand Pull the ankle towards your butt Do not allow the knee to move away from the midline of your body Keep your shoulder close to the floor and your torso straight. Do not bend to the side. Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Stretch #2:

Page 7 of 11

Instructions: Stand near a wall so you can hold on for support Grab the front of your ankle (not the foot) and pull it toward your butt Keep the knee pointing straight down to the floor and even with the other knee Keep good posture throughout the stretch. Do not allow the knee to drift to the side and do not bend or twist your torso Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Hip Flexors: The main hip flexors (iliopsoas, and quadratus femoris) when tight (shortened) will make your lower back have an excessively arched appearance (anterior pelvic tilt(ATP)). Stretch #1:

Instructions: Get into a lunge position Reach down to the floor with both hands Support your body with your front legs, your hands and your back foot Straighten your back leg Thrust your hips toward the floor Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain.

Stretch #2:

Page 8 of 11

Instructions: Get into a lunge position Make sure our thighs are forming a 90-degree angle with your lower leg Tuck your hips under your body (posterior pelvic tilt) Bring your torso forward without slouching or losing your posterior pelvic tilt Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Abdominal Muscles: The combination of tight (shortened) abdominal muscles and tight (shortened) hamstrings will help to create the posterior pelvic tilt. Abdominals are the muscles around the torso. While the outermost muscle (rectus abdominus) is responsible for that six-pack look, it's the deeper muscles that have the biggest effect on posture.

Instructions: Lie on your stomach with your hands at shoulder level, slightly wider than your shoulder width Make sure your legs are close to each other Lift your torso by straightening your arms without moving your hands from the original position The front of your pelvis (the two pointy bones at the front of your hips) should be in contact with the floor You may tilt your head back as if to look a the ceiling (if this does not cause pain) Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Page 9 of 11

Hip Flexors: Hip flexors are a group of muscles near the pelvis that move the hip forward during walking and running.

Instructions: Sit with both legs straight Bend your left knee and cross it over your right leg so that your left ankle ends up by your right knee Twist your torso so that your right elbow end up docking on your left knee You can put some over pressure from you elbow on your knee to push it in toward the midline of your body to increase the intensity of the stretch Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Stretching Muscles Related to the Lower Back: Stretch #1:

Instructions: Lie down on your back and bring your knees to your chest Put your arms around your knees and bring them closer to your chest As you do this, concentrate on flattening your back on the floor (you will have to tighten your abs to do this) Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Stretch #2: Page 10 of 11

Instructions: Straighten your left leg and keep holding your right leg close to your chest After a few seconds, exert a bit of pressure toward the left shoulder to feel a stronger stretch around the hip area Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Stretch #3:

Instructions: Lay on your back with your knees bent Cross your left leg on the right leg (put your left ankle on the right knee) Slide both hands around your right thigh (as if you wanted to choke the thigh) Pull your right knee toward you. Remember to breath properly, hold the stretch for about 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the other side, do approximately 6 stretch repetitions, and discontinue the stretch if it causes pain

Page 11 of 11