0
0 In Blog/ Chronic Back Pain/ Stretches

Why Your Lower Back Pain Stretches are Not Working (or making things worse)

Why Your Lower Back Pain Stretches are Not Working (or making piriformis syndrome pain worse)

Does this sound about right?… “Stretching has been a big part of your lower back pain treatment plan.  It definitely provides relief especially after long days of sitting or standing.  However, it never lasts long. Few minutes after, you have to do it again.  When you have flare-ups, stretching makes things worse. It’s very frustrating because it’s supposed to help, but it doesn’t all the time. So you are not sure if you’re overdoing it or not doing it enough”.

 

If this sound like anything you are wondering about right now, let me tell you, it’s perfectly normal to be confused.  We get little to no education about stretching.  The physio prints a black and white document with images of stretches to do, and we are sent home until the next session!

 

I’ve talked a lot about smart stretching before, and I want to share with you a video I made about this. But before I do, I want to take a moment to explain something I feel will make a huge difference in how you approach stretching. Once you understand this, you won’t look at stretching the same way again.

 

If you have noticed that some of your lower back stretches – that you’ve been prescribed (or found on the internet) – are either not working, or making things worse, please keep reading. Also, and save this post for future reference as well if you can’t fully read it today.

 

Why Your Lower Back Pain Stretches are Not Working?

Enter: Compensation

We can almost never isolate the body. When you are experiencing aches, pains and weaknesses in one area of your body, know that all the other parts are connected and will respond in a certain way. This process of compensation is normal because the body is an intelligent machine and everything is connected.

 

Say you live a sedentary lifestyle and rarely exercise. Chances are you’ll have a weak core and dormant glutes. Sitting for too long shuts the glutes off immediately. As you never work to strengthen the glutes, the body will adapt to this and will respond in a certain way to prevent injury the next time you are required to make a move under stress.

 

So the next time you perform a task that requires your glutes and core to work together (lift heavy groceries off the floor), your body will “lock” some joints to protect your lower back as it kicks in to get the job done. Let me explain further why your body will lock joints to prevent injury (and create more tightness as a result).

 

Understanding mobility and stability of the joints

The joints in our bodies are all working in synch. Some joints like your shoulders need to be more mobile (move more freely), while others need more stability (the low back area, elbow, and knees).

What you will notice is that these joints will alternate in movement as we move up from one joint the next: Ankle (needs more mob.)- Knees (stability) – Hips (mobility) – Lower back (stability)

 

Strong core and glutes are going to stabilize your lower back and also take the load off the knees.  What happens when we are stretching all the time?: No stability, and too much mobility. Everywhere. The body is out of balance and the process of compensation is in play all the time.

 

Putting it all together

So the next time you go do something that requires lifting items off the floor, cleaning or even walking with heavy groceries, you will start noticing more tightness in your hips.

Here is why: your core and glutes are off. Your body is trying to prevent injury (all it cares about at this time is survival), so it will go into compensation mode. It does this by locking the upper joint and the lower joints – in this case, the hips, and the upper back – to provide some stability to the lower back.

Because the hips and the upper back are not meant to be “locked”, you’ll start getting muscle tightness, and pain.

The muscles themselves are simply trying to prevent injury to create that stability that is lacking in the first place (they are covering up for the glutes and core). This is where the more you stretch, the tighter you get. And it feels like the body is fighting with you.

 

This is a trend that goes on in our bodies all the time, and what do we do? we stretch, even more, creating even more imbalances, and more weaknesses.

Whenever I feel tightness somewhere, I always ask myself the following questions:

  • Is this from a workout I just did? – then it’s normal tightness that should go away with some gentle stretching, and recovery. I use the massage ball after my workouts to target knots and tightness. I like the ball because It release the knots and I don’t have to stretch (great if you work in an office and don’t have space to stretch)
  • How has my posture been in the past few days? – too much sitting will shut off your glutes and core and round your shoulders. This creates a huge list of weaknesses in the body and a lot of compensation. Tightness is almost always originating from bad posture.
  • How is the rest of my body feeling? when was last time I scheduled stretching or foam rolling?. I personally tend to do more strengthening workouts, so I always need to remind myself to stretch to balance things out.  As a note here, I always had more pain from over-stretching than over strengthening. It was until I reduced my stretching that I started getting better (my personal experience).
  • How is my mental wellbeing? am I too stressed out lately? – please check out my blog post on the mind-body connection. Stress can affect every single area of the body including your muscles.  Don’t underestimate what it can do to your body (I have a whole video planned on this on Youtube next week)

It’s unfortunate how little education people get about smart stretching, and how to use it in a way that benefits your body. I recently had two questions inside the facebook group about this topic where two members were experiencing more pain when stretching before their workouts. I answer both questions in the video below.

Are You Stretching Too Much Video Q&A

More resources:

Intelligent stretching: Check out this great post from Paul Chek’s blog about how to stretch intelligently, and which muscles have a tendency to get weak and loose (need more strengthening) vs the ones that tend to get more tight. When you strengthen a muscle that needs more strengthening, it will stabilize the joint linked to it. This is why schedule core and glute strengthening will help protect your spine and avoid having your upper body and hips locked during compensation.

I also want to include some short videos to help you correct your current stretches.  If you are doing your stretches wrong, you won’t notice much of a difference.

Correct the Hip Flexor Stretch

(that video thumbnail tho LOL)

Correct the Hamstring Stretch

That’s it for today! I’ve been wanting to write a post about stretching for so long now.  I’ll keep updating this post as I go so that it’s a good resource for everyone to go back to. IIf you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.  Thank you for being on the blog, and I hope you learned something valuable today!

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Increase more than 700% of Email Subscribers!
Dolor aliquet augue augue sit magnis, magna aenean aenean et! Et tempor, facilisis cursus turpis tempor odio. Diam lorem auctor sit, a a? Lundium placerat mus massa nunc habitasse, arcu, etiam pulvinar.
  • Goblinus globalus fantumo tubus dia
  • Scelerisque cursus dignissim lopatico
  • Montes vutario lacus quis preambul den
  • Leftomato denitro oculus softam lorum
  • Spiratio dodenus christmas gulleria tix
  • Dualo fitemus lacus quis preambul pat
  • Montes vutario lacus quis digit turtulis
  We hate spam and never share your details.
ARE YOU READY? GET IT NOW!
Increase more than 500% of Email Subscribers!
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Download your guide now!
     
Sign up now!
2016 (C) All rights reserved.
10 SIMPLE steps to a leaner you! Grab my free e-book.
Grab my free fat loss e-book!
60 BODYWEIGHT exercises you can do ANYWHERE!
I did the work for you!
Simply download this sheet, print it as a PDF or copy the workouts. Easy!
Get the exercise spreadsheet in your inbox!
Please enter your name and email below
  We hate spam too and will never share your details.
Access the Fit Library
Join over hundreds others, and get access to my free library of guides, e-books, planners, exercises, and much more. I created this library to help you have an efficient Fit and healthy lifestyle.
14 TECHNIQUES TO ROCK YOUR TRAINING AND BEAT PLATEAUS
Not seeing results? You probably have been missing out on these 14 proven techniques to break through all your plateaus.
JOIN THE LIFESTYLE DETOX CHALLENGE!
Get this free resource in your inbox now + private coaching emails from me to guide you in your healing journey.
Download the e-book
Get this bundle of FREE lower back pain resources + private coaching emails in your inbox every week!
ACCELERATE YOUR RECOVERY AND AVOID FLARE-UPS BY FOLLOWING THESE RULES
Get your free guide!
How to properly set goals with the sweet-spot technique - Download The Workbook
Subscribe to Sofia's newsletter, and receive monthly coaching emails + a free bundle of back pain tips and tools.
Welcome to the Back Pain Warriors community :)
Please check your inbox for an e-mail from 'coach sofia'. Your Back Pain Resources have been sent to you!
PS: check your spam folder if you can't find it!