Long runs, improper form, and hilly terrain can all lead to a strained and pained lower back after a run. Remedy the situation ASAP with these four post-run stretches you can do anywhere to relieve lower-back pain.
- Sit on the floor and bend both knees like you're about to sit cross-legged. Bring your feet together.
- Using your hands, press the bottoms of your feet together while using your elbows to press your knees toward the floor.
- Stay here for five breaths.
- Extend your arms out in front of you to deepen the stretch and stay for a few breaths.
- Lie flat on your back. Draw both knees in toward your chest and squeeze them toward you with your arms.
- Inhale and extend your knees straight up in the air (or keep your legs bent for a more beginner-friendly variation).
- As you exhale, open your left arm, gaze to the left side, and drop your legs toward the right. Reach for your thigh, ankle, or foot if your legs are extended. If they are bent, extend your right arm to your side. Look toward your open left hand.
- Hold for at least five breaths before coming back to center and then dropping your legs toward the left while gazing to your right.
If you don't want to lie on the ground, do a seated twist instead. Learn how to do this stretch and one more after the break.
- To do the seated twist, begin seated on the ground with your legs extended in front of you.
- Bend your right knee and place your right heel as close to your right sit-bone as you can. Then bend your left knee and cross your left foot over your right knee. Plant it on the floor so your left ankle is next to your right knee.
Reach your left arm behind you and place your palm on the floor. Then bend your right elbow and cross it over the outer side of your left knee. Keep your elbow bent, or if you can, hold onto your left toes.
- Keep your left hand on the floor for stability, or bring your left arm around your lower back. Reach for your shirt, or if you can, hook your fingers on the top of your right thigh. Gaze behind you and over your left shoulder. Continue pressing your right arm into your left knee, and use each inhale to lengthen the spine and each exhale to rotate further to the left.
Stay here for five or more breaths. Then release the twist, straighten your legs out in front of you, and do this pose with your right knee pointing up.
Hip Flexor Stretch
- Find soft ground in front of a wall (or do this at home with a towel placed about eight inches away from a wall).
- Place your left knee on the towel and your toes against the wall.
- With your right foot planted firmly on the ground in front of you, slowly bend your right knee and lower your hips down until you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip. Make sure your right knee doesn't move past your right ankle.
- Place your hands on your front knee to help keep your torso straight. Stay here for at least 30 seconds.
- To increase the stretch, lift your left arm overhead and side bend to the right. Then slowly release and do this stretch on the other side.