Updated March 2016

lumbar pain

An Exercise for Lumbar Pain

The Lying Twist Exercise

 Lumbar pain can have many factors as to its cause. Those who have chronic back pain usually experience stiffness, tightness and very poor flexibility in the lumbar region.  Part of this is due to ‘muscle guarding’.  Guarding removes your ability to twist, lean or bend.  This ‘rigidity’ also prevents your lower intra-spinal muscles from relaxing, thereby limiting needed expansion and rehydration of your discs.  This can result in reduced mobility and increased pain.

This exercise will help to restore some much needed movement and help to relieve pressure on the spine.  The twist in this exercise should not be forced.  It should only be performed according to your level of comfort.

The Lying Twist is also a very good exercise to help you when long periods of sitting are necessary. This exercise is only ONE of many that should be performed to relieve lumbar pain. No single exercise can do this. It is Exercise #10 of the Limited Mobility Exercises.

It helps in a number of ways to:

Hip Flexors

  1. Return you to neutral tilt (for even disc pressure, reduces posterior pelvic tilt).
  2. Stretch your psoas muscle (common area for lumbar pain).
  3. Stretch your lower back muscles (increases mobility, flexibility,  reduces tightness, improves instraspinal muscle mobility).
  4. Strengthen and condition your back muscles (upper and lower to help maintain a neutral spine, reduces back spasms).
  5. Stretch your glute muscles (improves hip mobility, reduces hip pain, improves pelvic tilt).

Extended sitting contributes to lumbar pain,  it is important to LIMIT the amount of time sitting and to take breaks from extended sitting (every 25-30 minutes for 1-2 minutes). Standing or walking is a must. Sitting is NEVER healthy for your lower back.

This exercise can be done while lying in bed and during your breaks. (It is important to have consent from your family doctor prior to any exercise routine such as the Lying Twist.)

Lying Twist

Step 1: Lie back on the floor (or bed) with your knees bent and feet on the floor.  Hold your hands together.

Lying Twist

Step 2:  Cross your legs and slowly relax over to the side.  The leg on top should lean both legs to its own side.  Place your elbow on the opposite side for support to keep the back on the floor.

Lying Twist (side view)

Step 3:  Relax.  Hold this position for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.

Step 4:  Repeat with the other side.

Step 5:  Repeat often.

Note:  This exercise will stretch very tight and resistant muscles.  You may feel sore afterwards as tight and weak muscles will be lengthened more than usual.  Allow time to recover.  This stretch requires time to become effective as the lowest muscles on the spine and lower back are difficult to mobilize from over tightness.

Tip:  Let gravity do the work.  To strengthen the muscles stretched, slowly bring your folded legs back up to the original position without assistance.

In the first 10-30 seconds, your initial stiffness may prevent you from fully feeling the benefit of this exercise.  Deep relaxing breaths and patience are key to holding this position. 

This exercise can be easily done immediately upon waking or going to bed.

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