Tip # 1. Learning to unlock the knees – this tip has changed my life.
Do you lock your knees when you stand and walk? Did you know that locking your knees, locks the lower spine and and makes it difficult to engage the core muscles, necessary for lower back support. Unlocking the knees has an immediate relieving effect on the lower spine and back muscles, and supports a long term preventative approach. Even if you work your abdominal muscles regularly, locking the knees will still negatively affect core muscle function.
Try this simple exercise to help highlight the difference between locking and unlocking the knees.
Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
Step 2: Position knees directly underneath your hip sockets.
Step 3: Place the palm of one hand on the lower spine and strongly lock your knees back and feel how the spine locks.
Step 4: Keeping the same hand contact on the spine, slowly unlock the knees to a point that the lower spine relaxes.
a) Left side – shows a locked knee
b) Right side – shows a relaxed knee
Tip # 2. Inner thighs and adductor muscle tone
How weak are your inner thigh muscles? These muscles are often missed in exercising. Strengthening these muscles will help create balance to the legs and hips, providing greater stability for your lower back. This is also an effective long term solution for ITB and hip pain. If you’re forever needing to use a foam roller to ease ITB pain, then strengthening the inner thigh muscles will reduce the need to ease tension on the outside leg.
Tip # 3. Take your time and relax into your stretch
Do you rush your stretch or skip it all together? For many stretching is a challenge but a shift in mindset from avoidance to connecting with the benefits will help considerably. I have met clients that don’t stretch, even after regular excessive exercising. The resulting muscular tension and damage was difficult to reverse.
The body can deal with only so much tension before injuries will occur. One of the keys to getting the most out of stretching is to take your time. Generally anything under 30 secs won’t create a change in mobility. I like to consider tension in layers. As you stretch, it will be more effective to release the first layer of tightness before deepening the stretch. As soon as the stretch is forced it becomes a contraction and the stretch effect is lost. As you relax into your stretch, also focus on relaxing your breathing to get the most out of your stretch.
Tip # 4. Key muscles to stretch to help relieve lower back tension
This will vary in people depending on different tension patterns, however most will benefit from stretching the following key muscles.
- Hip flexors (psoas muscles and quadriceps)
- Hip muscles (piriformis, gluteus maximus and medius)
- Lower back muscles (quadratus lumborum and lumbar spinal muscles)
Tip # 5. You only have one body, look after it while you can
Commitment to your health can be hard work and it’s important to consider a varied approach to supporting your physical wellbeing. Massage is a valuable contribution to releasing lower back tension, enhancing mobility for exercise and for generally feeling more comfortable in your body.
Massage styles vary greatly, from the more commonly associated relaxation and pampering styles, to more specialist approaches such as Myofascial Release and Trigger Point Therapy.
These two styles of massage benefit the client in experiencing significant reductions in muscular tension and pain, while supporting soft tissue restrictions to expand and relax, providing maximum potential for muscles to move freely.
Written by Luis Fernández
Myofascial Release Specialist
Trigger Point Therapy
Eastern Suburbs Massage and Myofascial
Mobile: 0411 369 991