The WORST Stretches For Low Back Pain (And What To Do Instead) Ft. Dr. Stuart McGill

In addition to resorting to lower back exercises, one of the first solutions people struggling with back pain seek is lower back stretches to relieve their pain. But here’s the truth. Many of these stretches are just short term fixes. They actually end up doing more harm than good. And are the opposite of what people should be doing to permanently eliminate their back pain.

For example, common stretches like toe touches, pulling your knees to your chest, and other similar stretches trigger what’s called a stretch reflex. This is a neurological phenomenon that temporarily reduces pain sensitivity. Meaning that you’ll often experience about 15-20 minutes of pain relief after you perform these stretches.

Dr. Stuart McGill and his lab, the cat camel exercise has been found to be the least stressful way to incorporate some movement into the spine without aggravating it. It’s a helpful and healthy way to:

  • Maintain good spinal movement AND
  • Reduce any movement restrictions or friction within your spine

For these, get on all fours. Slowly move back and forth from a downward spinal curve with the head looking up like a cat.And then move into a rounded spine while the head looks down like a camel.Now, Dr. Stuart McGill measured spine stress on patients performing this movement. And he found that only 7-8 cycles were needed to help reduce spine friction and resistance. In fact, he found that further cycles could even undo the value of the exercise. So stick with that recommendation and avoid overdoing it.

Stretching this muscle and taking it out of the shortened position it’s in all day can therefore help provide some relief to that lower back tension. However, Dr. Stuart Mcgill’s research has shown that your standard hip flexor stretch will not access this muscle due to its unique anatomy.

Instead, there’s a unique move we can do that helps to specifically stretch this muscle. To execute it:

  • Get into a lunge position with one leg in front
  • Raise your opposite arm overhead as you descend into the lunge
  • Then, bend your torso slightly to the side away from your back leg and drop your shoulder back to further target and stretch the psoas
  • You should feel a deep stretch in the psoas located in front of the hip of your back leg
  • Hold this position for a couple of seconds
  • Take a step forward to switch your front leg and the raised arm to repeat the sequence

Leave a Comment