The Happy Back Show Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 4

Low Back Relief

20 min - Practice


Arturo shares a slow and simple practice to help relieve low backache and discomfort. With the support of the wall, we find length through the spine and gently stretch the low back muscles. We then find the ground to stretch the hips, booty, and psoas. You will feel more ease and comfort in your low back.
What You'll Need: Mat, Wall, Square Bolster, Blanket

About This Video

Sep 24, 2016
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Hi, welcome back. Today's practice is going to focus on some things we can do for when the low back is ache-y and uncomfortable. Keep in mind with these practices that, you're the one in charge of how much movement you do. Some of the movements might feel really great to do really tiny, some movements may feel really great to do really big. Don't push beyond that kind of yummy, ache-y sensation.

We don't want any sharp pain during practice. And we'll start off at the wall. You're gonna bend your elbows and bring your palms to the wall. And then step the feet back and have a little feeling of sticking the booty out, arching the low back slightly. It's almost like you're into down dog against the wall.

So you're getting a feeling of lengthening back through the tailbone, and keeping your palms grounded into the mat. And just take a few deep breaths here, getting some length along the sides. And we're gonna do some slow motion movement with the tail bone, wagging the tail bone over towards your right side, your left knee will straighten just a little bit. Bend your right knee a little more, until you get this yummy stretch along the left side of the low back. It's always good to check in with the quality of your breath.

If you're breathing like this, ease off a little bit, until your breath can move in and out really freely and easily. Then come back to the center. You can inhale your booty back to the center. And exhale, swinging the tail bone over towards your left side, bending the left knee a little more. Pressing a little more with the right hand and taking the tailbone away from the right side to get a stretch in the right side of the low back.

Yummy stretch into the shoulders as well. A couple of deep breaths here. I usually time my practice with the breath. So if I do five breaths on one side, I'll do five breaths on the other. And you can inhale the booty back to center.

Now if that felt good, you can just repeat that again. But if you want a little bit more of a lengthening sensation, shift your weight onto your right foot and take your left toes back, and then slide the left toes over to the right and touch down with the ball of the left foot. Pressing into the left hand, tail bone's going over towards the right, along with the left foot, getting a yummy lengthening across the left side of the low back. Check the quality of your breathing. Are you breathing?

Are you holding your breath? On your next inhale, you can float that left foot back to the center, then bring it back underneath you. I like to wag my tail a few times in between. Then shift the weight over to the left foot, lengthen out through the right foot, and sweep the right leg over to the left side. Right palm stays firm into the wall.

Breathing. Getting that lengthening sensation through the right side of the low back. In particular, we're getting the quadratus lumborum muscle right in the sides of the spine, in the lumbar spine. And you can inhale the right foot and pelvis back to center. Bring the right foot under the hips.

Hang out in this down dog against the wall for a moment. And bending the knees. Baby stepping the feet forward as you lift your heart and lift your head, and release your hands from the wall. And we're gonna come down to the ground. And when your low back is sensitive, you wanna be really mindful for the transitions down to the ground.

So, if you're flexible enough to come into a squat, that's great. And then shift onto one hip. And sit comfortably on the ground. So we're gonna come down to the ground, down onto our backs. I like to set up a head pillow.

And then again, transitioning down, you wanna be really mindful. The temptation is to use a lot of ab strength, but that might be uncomfortable. I'm gonna shift my hips a little towards the wall, lengthen my left arm out, come all the way onto my side and then roll up onto my back. You may need to adjust your dreadlocks. And then bring one foot at a time up to the wall.

Now, I know that my hips are fairly tight, so I have my booty a little bit away from the wall here. Gonna draw the left knee in towards the chest, and cross the left knee over the right knee, and then slide the right foot down the wall until I get a stretch in the outer hip here. I can get more of a stretch by coming onto my toes. If that's still not enough, I can unwind and scoot my hips and little closer to the wall, and then come back into this. But for me, this is really good right here.

So starting at the center, with the knee coming straight up towards the right shoulder. And then I can take the right knee a little over towards the left shoulder. (moans) That gets into a different line in the outer left hip. Always checking with the breath. Also good to feel into what your forehead is doing. If you're squinching the muscles between your eyebrows, that's usually a sign that you're efforting a little bit too much.

If you're clenching your jaw, that doesn't help release the hip. And I'm gonna slowly come back to center with the right knee. And then take the right knee towards the outside of the right shoulder. Again, focusing on the left booty. So if you go for a less intense stretch, and hold it for a longer period of time, you can start to affect the deeper tissue, the connective tissue in the outer hip here.

And I'm gonna slowly bring the knee back to center. Then I'm gonna just come on to the ball of the right foot, and pivot the right heel a little out to the side, and then set the heel down. So I'm kind of making my right foot a little pigeon-toed on the wall. Then the left heel is going to press into the outer knee to get a stretch on this right side. Getting into the outer hip.

Checking the breath. Softening the face. Breathing. And then coming back to center with the right knee. Bringing the right heel back to center.

And uncrossing the legs, straighten it out. Straighten the left leg out. Then the other side. Drawing the right knee in towards the chest, and crossing the right ankle over the left knee. Sliding the left foot down the wall until you feel a stretch in the outer right hip.

You can hang out at center with the knee coming straight towards the left shoulder. If you need more, you can come up onto the ball of the foot a little bit. But I am pretty good right here. I'm gonna take the left knee over towards the right shoulder. Still bringing the knee slightly towards the chest.

And coming back to the center with the left knee. And then taking the left knee towards the outside of the left shoulder, getting into a different angle in the outer right hip. Still breathing. And coming back to the center. Placing the left foot firmly on the wall, I'm gonna lift the heel a little and pivot the left heel out, so I'm making my left foot a little pigeon-toed.

And then I'm gonna keep it there on the wall, and let the right ankle draw the left knee across, so now I'm getting this stretch a little bit more on the very side of the hip, on the left side. Still breathing. Melting into it. And slowly bringing the left knee back to center. Pivot the left heel so you're centered and uncross the legs, straightening out.

And take a pause. And lastly, you can bring the feet down to the mat, and you're gonna need to slide up the mat a bit, further away from the wall. Kind of inch worm your way up. Far enough that you can straighten your leg out without hitting the wall. So for this next pose, you can use a bolster.

If a bolster feels too tall for you, you can just use a folded blanket like the blanket I have underneath my head here. I'm gonna bring the bolster in sideways, right next to my pelvis. Inhale, then exhale, engaging my abs, pressing down with the feet and lifting my hips just enough that I can reach under my back and slide this right underneath my pelvis, and then set my hips down. Then, I'm gonna slowly walk my feet forward. We're looking at stretching the hip flexors here, the psoas in particular.

And this may be enough. I may keep my feet a little bit on the mat. Or you might wanna straighten your legs out all the way. Again, going for a very gentle stretch that we can hang out in for two minutes, five minutes. And this pose right here is a great counter-pose to all this sitting that we do, sitting at the computer, sitting watching TV, sitting driving, sitting to eat, our hips are always flexed.

They're bent towards the chest about halfway. And so we need to counter-pose all that sitting, by taking the hips down a little bit. And for some of us, with the psoas really tight, even laying flat on the ground can be a counter-stretch. Checking in with the sensation, checking in with the breath. And then to come out of the pose, engage the abs just a little bit and slowly bring one foot in at a time.

Press down with the feet, lift the hips, and you can slide the bolster forward towards your heels, slide it forward enough that your sacrum, your tail bone can come all the way down to the ground. And then if you want to rest in final relaxation, you can come here, relaxed legs, onto the bolster. So you can stay here if you like. Or if you'd like to come up to sitting, you'll bring one knee at a time in, roll onto whichever side is comfortable, knees up towards the chest, and I'm even gonna bring this blanket with me, pausing on the side for a breath. And then to come up, I'm gonna bring my top hand down to the mat, roll forward, let my head and neck stay heavy as I roll my way up my spine and come up to find a comfortable seated position.

I hope that was helpful for you. Enjoy the rest of your day. Namaste.


1 person likes this.
WOW ... because of an old thigh injury my left hip and left Piriformis Muscle are tight. The stretch against the wall is really good, and I like the small movements and like they influence the stretch. Current I feel the downdog against the wall more in my shoulders, maybe they need it Thank you!
1 person likes this.
amazing that such small and controlled movements can give such immediate relief! Definitely keeping these up my sleeve....Thank you for your wisdom !
Arturo, I was wondering about the Psoas stretch for teaching students with sciatic pain. Any thoughts? Do you still recommend that stretch for those students?
That was wonderful! Thank you!

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