Try This 3-Minute Lower Back Mobility Routine for Better Movement
Your lower back has been bothering you for quite some time, and yet, you haven’t done a single thing to relieve your stiffness and discomfort.
Maybe you have back pain after prolonged sitting in a desk chair. Or perhaps back pain creeps up after a long traveling day and the only salve you give your poor spine is a stiff drink and a springy hotel bed. Time to ditch that detrimental behavior and embrace a lumbar mobility routine to support your back health. It’s quick, involves no fancy equipment, and will bring sweet relief to your lower back.
Physical therapist Daniel Giordano, DPT, PT, C.S.C.S. of Bespoke Treatments in New York City, demonstrates a quick 3-minute, 5 movement lower back mobility session that can be done whether you’re on an airport floor or your living room. Watch the video above with Giordano and personal trainer Vaughn Gray, NASM-CPT, to see each move demonstrated in detail.
Benefits of Lower Back Mobility Stretches
- Loosen up stiffness after sitting for long periods
- Reduce Tension
- Improve movement for better performance
The 3-Minute Lumbar Mobility Routine
The first move in our low back mobility flow is this simple stretch on the floor which you do in your back. Aim for 10 reps with 5-second holds on each side. “The first time you do these, you’re not going to get much movement, but the more consistent you are, the more movement you’ll get over time and your body will understand this movement better,” says Giordano.
- Lie flat on the ground in the bridge position and walk your feet a little wider than your knees.
- Let the knees fall to one side “feeling the stretch, through your hips,” says Giordano
- Come back to the neutral position and then repeat in the opposite way.
- Each time you do them, hold it at the bottom part for five to 10 seconds and come down and let the hips relax.
Lumbar Windshields Progression
“A great way to improve mobility of those hips, decreasing tension on your lower back,” says Giordano.
Do 8 to 10 reps on each side with a 10-second hold every time you go to one side.
- On your back on the floor, cross one foot over one knee.
- Instead of letting the knees fall down to the side, use the top foot to push down on the knee and push it all the way down to the side.
- Feel the stretch through the hip and through the anterior aspect around the lower abdominal and into the hips itself; hold this pose for about five to 10 seconds.
- Come back to the neutral position and repeat.
Reverse Bridge with Reach
For this lumbar mobility pose, do eight to 10 reps on each side, holding it for about five seconds every rep, “really opening up that lumbar aspect with that lat, because remember that lat attaches on that thoracic lumbar junction,” says Giordano. “And we need to make sure that it’s decreased tension in that lat… And it’s a great way to just open up that whole lateral line all into the hip decreasing tension on your lower back.
- Go into the sitting position, hands rotated out with your fingers away from the body.
- Push through the heels, lifting the butt in the air. And then with one hand reach across your body, feeling the stretch all through that lateral line “hitting that lat, and into the hip muscles.” Hold this position for about five seconds
- Switch sides, and repeat in the opposite direction.
Knee to Chest Open Book Rotation
“With each one of these stretches, feel the stretch, feel the pull, cross over, and then let your body relax,” explains Giordano, adding that you should hold the move for 10 seconds or so, and repeat 8 to 10 times on each side. Giordano says that this move is an excellent way to open up everything from your hips all the way through your thoracic spine, decreasing pressure on your lower back.
- Lying on your back, pull your knee to your chest, feeling the stretch through the hip extensors. Cross the leg over crossbody and then open up following your hand with your eyes, pushing down the top knee, feeling the stretch all through the glutes and hip muscles, and then come back to the starting position.
- Start over, and then switch sides.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
The fifth and final stretch for our lumbar mobility sequence requires a 10-second hold every time you do it. Shoot for about 8 to 10 reps on both sides. Here, we come forward kneeling on the ground, “creating the tension through the glute, creating the stretch to the anterior aspect of the hip flexor, helping release pressure on your hips that can be affected from prolonged sitting, decreasing tension in the hip flexors, decreasing tension in your lower back,” says Giordano.
- Come to the half-kneeling position.
- Tighten this knee down the glute, on this side, tighten that glute, and then slightly lean forward feeling the stretch through the hips and the hip flexor. Hold it for 10 seconds or so and come out of it.
For more advice from physical therapists to help you move and feel better, check out all of our guides in The Fix series.
Perri is a New York City-born-and-based writer; she holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Columbia University and is also a culinary school graduate of the plant-based Natural Gourmet Institute, which is now the Natural Gourmet Center at Institute Of Culinary Education. Her work has appeared in the New York Post, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, Oprah Daily, Insider.com, Architectural Digest, Southern Living, and more. She’s probably seen Dave Matthews Band in your hometown, and she’ll never turn down a bloody mary. Learn more at VeganWhenSober.com.