Lower back pain is a very common complaint that people seek treatment for. Low back pain can range from general stiffness and soreness to pain shooting down the legs (also called sciatica). In many cases the underlying cause is a misaligned spinal vertebra pinching the spinal nerve as it exits the spine.
The reason a pinched nerve causes the back pain is because this causes the muscles in the lower back, glutes, quads and hamstrings to tighten up. This shifts the pelvis further out of alignment which then further aggravates the pinched nerve in the lower back.
A good way to tell if this is in fact going on is to lightly massage the muscles in the lower back. Is there obvious tightness, soreness or any noticeable knots in the muscle? Try leaning forward and leaning back. Is there a feeling of restricted ability to move? Is there an achy or sore feeling in the muscle in general? These are all clear indicators a pinched nerve is in play.
Chiropractic care is the first line of treatment for low back pain because it directly addresses the underlying cause of the problem which is the nerve being pinched. Chiropractic adjustments gently push the spinal bones back into proper alignment thereby relieving pressure on the nerve and allowing the muscle tissue to heal naturally.
However while the treatment is in progress there are 3 stretches that can make the treatment time less, improve pain levels and help the person feel more limber. I’ll cover these now. The first two stretches focus on muscles that attach the pelvis and legs. The third addresses muscles within the pelvis itself.
Stretch #1: Hamstrings- This classic stretch is easy to do. Simply lean forward as far as you can and try to touch your toes. Go far enough so you get a nice stretch and hold for at least 45 seconds. If you don’t hold the stretch that long you will not engage the stretch receptors in the muscle and get very minimal benefit from the stretch.
Stretch #2:Quadraceps- Now we will shift our focus to the muscles in the front of the leg. To do this stretch bend the knee back like you are trying to touch your heel to your buttock. Hold the ankle and pull lightly on the leg stretching the quad. This muscle attaches to the front of the pelvis. Again hold for at least 45 seconds.
Stretch #3: Glutes- This last stretch addresses muscles which attach the sacrum to the pelvis and head of the femur. To do this stretch lay on your back and hug the leg on the side you are stretching to your chest. You can pull the leg lightly across your chest to the opposite side to get a deeper stretch. Hold for at least 45 seconds.
Doing these stretches 2-3 times a day will help relax the muscles which will enhance the effectiveness of the chiropractic adjustments. They can also be used on their own if you find yourself stiff after a long day or just need some minor symptomatic relief.
If you are having problems with chronic or recurring low back pain or have recently been injured we can help you get back to feeling great! Call us, shoot us a message on Facebook or just stop in. Our offices are here to help you experience better health!