Newsletter no. 32 – Monday 14 March, 2022

This is the web-based version of Stretch Therapy Newsletter no. 32


Lower back stretching exercise with chair – simple lower back pain relief

chair side bend 1400x800

This is the first exercise for the lower back from the book Overcome Neck & Back Pain. Much of the pain of low back pain comes from the muscles and fascia of the lower back. Anyone who is suffering low back pain is loathe to stretch this area because it hurts too much, and if you avoid any movement pattern, it's not long before you lose your confidence in this critical part of the body.

This simple exercise loosens the oblique muscles and fascia first and then, by adding a gentle rotation, lets quadratus lumborum be stretched in time, too. For many people, quadratus lumborum (or "QL") is the location of the pain of their back pain; QL are also the deepest of the spinal muscles.

The last part of the exercises uses trapezius to stretch latissimus dorsi—which connects directly to the thoraco-lumbar fascia, another significant pain location.

All the movements that form this exercise happen with the spine unloaded, and while the relevant muscles are relaxed—so you can get the movement and the stretch without the pain and discomfort that a loaded spine will feel.

Make sure you stretch the tighter side a second time; experience shows that reducing any marked right–left difference in a key function like this is strongly correlated with reduced low back pain.

Partner version

If you have access to an exercise partner, stronger versions of all movements that form the solo exercise can be done. The partner will lean on the thigh of the leg you are leaning away from, so you will not need to exert any force to hold that hip on the chair seat. Additionally, the partner can provide a simple barrier for you to lean back against, so you can do a contraction for the muscles involved. Having a partner’s hand against the lower ribs is very comforting, too.

A note from a student

Hi Kit,

I’m feeling much better and have largely been able to resume a lot of my physical activity. (Though making sure not to over do it 😛) The first stretch in the program in particular (the seated side stretch) was revelatory!   

You were spot on when you said it was the most effective for the most people. I appreciate the details, the experience and the structure of the program.  I also really appreciate the overall philosophy and personable approach of you and Olivia of wanting to share the stretch therapy experience and help others.  No Kool-Aid, no hype train... I know I'm getting the real deal.

Thank you and have a good weekend,

Mike C., United States – via email