Often when you strain or injure your back, the back muscles and muscles that support the back, seize up in an attempt to brace your back and prevent further injury. This natural reaction is a good thing. But… sometimes the muscles have a hard time letting go of the tension. When you add chronic tension to a low back strain or injury, a chain reaction is enacted where stiffness, tension, and pain get caught in a feedback loop that limits mobility and slows healing. This short exercise or sequence allows the back to rest supported in it’s natural alignment without strain. It also allows the muscles to rest in their contracted state. Once the tension begins to dissolve in their protective contracted state you can begin to encourage greater movement and length in the muscles that is necessary for everyday comfort and ease. As is in all things, nothing works for everyone 100% of the time. Use your intelligence, pain as a guide, and your doctors recommendations to promote your fullest healing/recovery.
To perform this therapeutic Yoga exercise…. Lay on the floor with about the thickness of one or two yoga blankets long against your spine – so your hips are on the floor but your low back curve, spine, and head are supported on the floor. Best to let your head rest back onto the blanket without additional height. Keep your knees bent and try to get your body to trust you as you hold steady and make space for any chronic tension or spasming to release. Once you feel yourself relax and as long as you are 100% pain free – start to stretch one leg very slowly towards straight – it might only be 2 inches to start. This will help your psoas to relax and lengthen so you don’t have unnecessary tension in your low back.
To begin the leg extensions, gently engage the muscles of your leg and begin to stretch it towards straight. Use pain & tension as a guide. If either arise go back to the start position and practice resting easy before you move again.
If you are able to extend the leg straight, keep your muscles gently engaged and ground the back of you leg into the floor to extend it fully straight at the knee. This will gently lengthen the muscles on both the front and back of the leg and help them release their grip on your back.
Only if you can extend your leg fully (with no pain!) allow the leg to relax and rest for a few minutes. Repeat the sequence on the other leg and then give it a try with both legs. It may be helpful to use a rolled up towel under your knee if full leg extension is not comfortable.
Back pain is tough – I hope you feel better soon! Namaste