“Sitting is the new smoking.” –Unattributed quote making the rounds.
Lower back pain is part of what has been termed “Silicon Valley Syndrome,” the side effect of using too much technology. I’ve been battling lower back pain for years.
When one sits for a long period of time, the muscles of the legs are held in a contracted position. Over time, the muscles adapt to this position,and get a shorter “resting” length. When the sitter later stands up, these muscles pull on the lower back.
First, the hamstrings. The start position is in the picture below. First, pull back your hips (small green arrow) and feel the muscle tighten…and do it slow…remember, the idea is to relax the muscle, and you can’t aggressively relax.
Then, push your chest toward your toes along the long green arrow. Don’t stretch your lower back, stretch your leg muscle. The lower back is the hurt spot because it is the weak spot. You are trying to release the pressure on the lower back, not stretch it.
The other muscle (muscle group actually) that suffers from shortening is the Hip Flexor.
To stretch this one, I like to use the following procedure. Starting position is shown below:
You probably want to put a cushion underneath the knee on the ground. Now, push your hips forward. You should feel it at the very top of you thigh, above the quadriceps. You are stretching a muscle that goes through your pelvis, not the leg, and not the back.
This is a short segment of the overall physical therapy exercise program. The stretches themselves can be performed cold, but are far more effective if you have loosened the muscles first. I’ve been doing 10 minutes on an exercise bike to get the blood flowing and the muscles soft. This loosening up is probably as important, if not more so, than the stretches themselves.
Note: All images are mine, drawn by my own hand. Yes, I admit to them. They are reusable under the creative commons license; Please let me know if you wish to use them.