Why Is It Important to Stretch My Lower Back?
Roughly 31 million Americans struggle with lower back discomfort. Whether you’re looking for practitioner-assisted stretches Sciatica is a specific kind of lower back pain for sciatic pain or trying to figure out how to make lower back muscle spasms stop, we can help.
Below, you’ll learn why it’s important to stretch your lower back. We’ll discuss some of the root causes of lower back discomfort, as well as explaining why practitioner-assisted stretching can have a positive effect on your life.
Why Is My Lower Back So Tight?
The lower back is a common location for pain because it supports the upper part of the body. There are several potential causes for your lower back discomfort, including but not limited to:
- Muscle strain
- Herniated disc
- Poor posture
- Tight hamstrings
- Spinal inflammation
- Poor weightlifting technique
Luckily, you don’t have to live with this discomfort. Finding the source of it is important so that you can work to mitigate those causes. Along with that, though, there are also numerous techniques for relieving the discomfort you’re experiencing.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Lower Back Discomfort?
There are many different potential causes for lower back discomfort, but the most common one is strain. Throughout the course of the day, it’s all too easy to overexert yourself.
Just moving a little too quickly, or exerting yourself slightly more than your capabilities, can cause trouble. Strain can also occur when you’re repeating the same motions over and over.
Outside of that, many diseases can cause issues with your spine, which in turn lead to lower back discomfort. These diseases include scoliosis, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, and osteoporosis.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Sciatica?
Sciatica is a specific kind of lower back pain, which radiates from your lower back through one of your legs. It is typically caused by piriformis syndrome (muscle compression) and sometimes caused by either a spinal bone spur or a herniated disc.
What Are Some of the Risk Factors That Can Increase the Likelihood of Back Discomfort?
There are several different risk factors that can increase the importance of protecting yourself against back discomfort. These factors include age, weight, smoking, diseases, poor diet, and even certain mental health issues like anxiety.
While exercise is good for loosening your back, the risk of overexerting your muscles and spraining something is particularly pronounced for athletes, who are more likely to push their muscles too far while trying to achieve a victory.
Walking and swimming are both physical activities that are typically recommended for people who are at risk of back pain because they don’t put the strain on your muscles that you might expect when engaging in more strenuous exertion, like during a football game.
How Do I Know If My Back Discomfort Is Related to a Pulled Back Muscle or a Herniated Disc?
It’s always a good idea to speak with a medical professional if you’re concerned about a condition that you have. That said, there are a few tricks you can use to get a good idea of whether or not your discomfort can be traced back to a pulled muscle or a herniated disc.
The first is to understand what motions cause the discomfort. Herniated discs tend to cause pain at every point in the process of bending over and getting back up. Sprained backs typically only cause that pain when you’re getting back up.
The pain when you’re dealing with a herniated disc also tends to be more diffuse than that which you feel when you’re dealing with a sprained back. Herniated disc pain can often be spotted if you have discomfort or weakness in your legs.
What Is the Difference Between Herniated Discs and Sciatica?
Sciatica frequently finds its origins in a herniated disc. This is important for understanding the source of your pain. A herniated disc can put pressure on your sciatic nerve, leading to sciatica. But pain in your sciatic nerve cannot cause a herniated disc.
Is the Sciatic Nerve on the Left or Right Side of My Body?
You can experience sciatica on your left or right leg because you have two sciatic nerves: one on each side of your body. It is less common to experience sciatica on both sides of the body.
How Long Does Back Tightness Last?
How long back tightness lasts will vary depending on the cause. If you wake up with a stiff back, you may feel better later in the day. Other times it can take a week or two.
If you’re suffering with acute sciatica, the discomfort should dissipate within a few weeks. Longer-lasting discomfort is typically a result of chronic sciatica, which lingers more than acute sciatica but typically isn’t as painful.
There are other chronic conditions which can cause lower back pain to last longer than a couple weeks. While osteoporosis doesn’t typically cause discomfort in the lower back region, it’s still possible.
Osteoarthritis is more likely to cause long-term issues, especially as patients progress through the four stages. Stretching is one of the many tools you can use to increase your range of motion and strengthen muscles, which can help mitigate some of these effects.
Minor back injuries typically take two to four weeks to recover from. It’s important to speak with a medical professional in the event of a back injury.
After a major back injury, the medical professional treating you should be able to give you an idea of how long the pain is expected to last for. In some cases, you may need to use strategies devised to manage chronic pain. The goal is often to both minimize the experience of pain while helping ensure that you maintain your range of motion.
What Should You Do If Your Back Pain Is Lasting Longer Than You Expected?
If you’re feeling lower back discomfort for a lengthy period, you should seek out a professional who can help to mitigate the issue. When in doubt, it’s better to address the discomfort as quickly as possible. Waiting gives the issue time to worsen, which you’re better off avoiding.
Can Dehydration Cause Lower Back Discomfort?
Water is one of the most important substances that make up both your inner and outer spinal rings. For this reason, while it may not always seem intuitive, it’s important to ensure that you’re well-hydrated throughout the day.
Over the course of a day, your spinal discs slowly release water. If you wake up with back pain, there’s a good chance you didn’t drink enough water to replenish the water that was released.
When spinal discs don’t have the fluid they need, they leave your spine brittle and exposed, making discomfort more likely when you move your spine in any way.
Will Drinking Water Help Back Discomfort?
Drinking water can help decrease any back discomfort that you’re feeling. Seltzer water doesn’t have the same effect, but there are other fluids that can also help ease discomfort. Cherry juice in particular can have a soothing effect.
How Do I Relax My Lower Back Muscles?
The best way to address discomfort is by making lifestyle changes. This can include anything from quitting smoking to making stretching a more regular part of your life.
That said, when you’re experiencing intense discomfort, you may be looking for a quicker solution. In this situation, massages and heat packs are both great ways to quickly mitigate some of the symptoms that you’re experiencing.
While it’s important to avoid developing a dependency, over-the-counter medications can also be useful for mitigating lower back discomfort. Before doing so, you should visit a physician to determine other treatment options.
What Exercise Is Good for the Sciatic Nerve?
Physical activity is often the best way to approach dealing with sciatica. While the pain may make you think that bed rest is the answer, this can cause issues with your range of motion.
Instead, it’s important to test yourself so that you can slowly improve your range of motion and begin loosening the area where the discomfort is located. We recommend working with a stretch practitioner, who will be able to guide you through the process of improving your range of motion.
In fact, at Stretch Zone, we have a system designed to ensure you’re able to push yourself without experiencing too much discomfort. This numbered system allows clients to communicate how comfortable they are with the stretch:
- A 3 indicates a light stretch
- A 5 indicates a mild stretch
- A 7 indicates a deep stretch, but still avoiding any discomfort
Can Stretching Make Sciatica Worse?
Stretching is a great way of helping prevent or mitigate any sciatica that you’re experiencing. That said, it’s important to ensure that you’re stretching correctly.
This is why we recommend practitioner-assisted stretching. By making the movements with a professional, you can rest easy knowing that you’re not going to hurt yourself. Instead of your muscles having to do the work behind the stretch, you can rely on both the practitioner’s muscles as well as any equipment that the professional uses.
If you’re improperly stretching by yourself, it is possible to worsen the symptoms you’re experiencing. Just like overexerting your muscles can lead to strain, you can overstretch your muscles as well. This is one of the reasons why practitioners are trained in the methods and protocols designed to ensure your comfort and safety.
Can Stretching Help Relieve Muscle Spasms?
Muscle spasms are another form of muscle discomfort that can affect the lower back. They typically come about in a particular moment of time, as opposed to being the result of a condition, or repetitive movements over time.
Stretching can help ease this form of discomfort, which is derived from too much tension in your muscles. A regular stretching regimen can also help strengthen your muscles, making you less likely to experience muscle spasms in the future.
Why Is Stretching the Lower Back Important?
Stretching doesn’t just relieve injury; it can also prevent it from happening in the first place. Stretching increases the strength of your muscles, allowing you to live and exercise while worrying less about the potential of overexertion.
We recommend practitioner-assisted stretching for several reasons:
- Practitioners are trained in the art and science of stretching, which means they will be able to ensure that you don’t overstretch yourself.
- Practitioners can work with you to find the type of discomfort you’re dealing with, and maybe even help you get a better understanding of its cause.
- Practitioners devise stretch routines designed around the kinds of discomfort you’re dealing with.
- Practitioners can adjust their stretch plans to accommodate multiple needs or multiple forms of discomfort (e.g., if you’re suffering with osteoarthritis and acute sciatica).
- Practitioner-assisted stretching relies more on their muscles and equipment than it does on your own muscles, which means you’ll be able to stretch farther and improve your range of motion more than you would have been able to by yourself.
While you may need to stretch by yourself in certain situations, nothing can replace practitioner-assisted stretching. This is especially true if you aren’t sure what’s causing your discomfort.
Should I Stretch My Lower Back Every Day?
It is a good idea to make stretching a part of your regular routine, but this doesn’t mean you need to stretch a specific part of your body every day. This makes it more likely that you could overstretch an area of your body.
Instead, you’re better off doing different stretches on different days, as this ensures you are protecting and promoting your range of movement. If you’re having issues in your lower back, we recommend stretching that area two to three times a week at a minimum.
Looking for Practitioner-Assisted Exercises for Sciatic Pain?
If you’re dealing with back discomfort, practitioner-assisted stretches can help. Our founder Jorden Gold has been so passionate about growing Stretch Zone for the past 20 years because he knows it can help people lead better lives.
We offer free 30-minute stretches for all newcomers. It’s our mission to help people relieve their discomfort, which means we’re always helping people understand what a beneficial impact stretching can have on their lives.