I developed relentless low back pain during a wonderful, but very bumpy, road
trip through Costa Rica. Upon my return home I went to my mat I worked through
the following sequence. 30 minutes later I was pain free. No kidding. I was
amazed and delighted by the results so I thought I would share the sequence
A tightening and built up of tension in the psoas, hamstrings and gluteal muscles
may cause low back pain. The poses that follow provide a gentle stretch and
release for these areas. Proceed slowly – evaluate every new sensation as they
arise. Decide when to stop, when back off and when go deeper. In some poses,
if your chin juts up, place a block or blanket under the back of your head.
Muscles cannot be forced to open. Relax and breathe generous breaths to help
you calm the nervous system. A small smile also helps
Please email me with questions or comments. I’ve got your back!
All poses are done on the floor, on your back. When poses are performed on one
side, the directions begin on the right side. Repeat the pose on the left side. You
will need a strap and might need a towel or block to prop up your head if your
chin juts up.
While there are dozens of poses that can heal the low back, this sequence
includes only10 poses and takes about 30 minutes.
Bring your knees into your chest. Place your hands on your knees. Press
the knees away and roll from outer hip to outer hip making a large circle
that includes rolling onto the gluteal muscles. Move slowly. 5 circles.
Reverse the direction. Repeat.
Hug your knees into your chest. Roll in a circular loop on the low back to
massage the area. Move slowly and notice the changes in the shapes of
the low back. The divots are the sacroiliac (si) joints. 5 circles. Reverse
To stack your hips:
Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Lift your hips up and
move them two inches to the left, put them down. Bring your knees into
your chest and drop your knees to the right. Keep your knees close to
your right ribs. This will send the twist into your upper back, not your low
back. Reach your arms out to the sides and turn the palms to face the
ceiling. Draw your left shoulder down your back, away from your ear.
Gaze to the left. Move the tailbone away to lengthen the low back. 5
Bring one knee up at a time. Press your feet down and lift your hips up.
Shift your hips back to the middle. Repeat on second side. Begin by lifting
the hips to shift them to the right.
Core Strengthening and Sacral Massage
Bring your knees over your hips with your shins parallel to floor. Flex your
feet. If this exercise brings low back discomfort, bring your knees closer
to your chest. Reach your arms wide with your palms on the floor to lend
support. Inhale fully. On your exhale, slowly lower your knees to the right
and hover above the floor. Inhale to bring your knees up to center, exhale
lower your knees to the left. Continue on the breath. 10 cycles.
Hamstring Stretch, Psoas Stretch
This is a series of three poses. Complete the series on the right side and
then repeat the series on the left side. You will need a strap, belt or towel.
Place a block or towel under your head if your chin juts up.
Lie on your back. Bend your right knee, strap up the ball of the right foot.
Lengthen the strap so your shoulder blades can rest on your back and
move away from your ears. Lengthen and relax your neck. Relax your
chest. If your chin juts up, place a block or towel under your head.
Extend the left leg straight along the floor with the foot flexed and the heel
pressing into the floor. Press the right foot into the strap and pull the strap
to create resistance. Straighten the right leg. Bring your right thumb into
the right hip crease. Use this leverage to press the top of the right thigh
away and create space where the thigh meets the pelvis. Sense that your
hips are level. Lengthen the tailbone and the low back. 5 breaths.
The purpose of this pose is to stretch the back of the lifted leg, not to
bring the foot to your face. The lifted leg might only be a few feet off the
floor. That’s fine. When the right leg is straight, the thigh can contract so
the hamstring will release and allow a stretch. Keep the left leg long and
active to stretch the left psoas.
Keep the strap around the right foot and proceed to next stretch.
Inner Thigh Stretch
Take the strap into the right hand. Turn the right foot so the toes point
out and the heel points in, this will bring the leg into external rotation in
the hip socket. Brace the left leg with the left hand to keep it grounded.
Don’t allow the left hip to lift. Begin to draw the right leg out to the right
and up toward the right shoulder. Move the tailbone toward the left heel to
lengthen the low back. You can take your gaze to the left. 5 breaths
Keep the strap around the right foot and proceed to next stretch.
iliotibial (IT) Band Stretch
Bring the right leg back to center. Place the strap into the left hand. Flex
and square the right foot. Once again, place your right thumb into your
right hip crease; press the right thigh toward the front of the mat. Firm the
left leg, press the left heel into the mat, the left foot is flexed. Slowly bring
the right leg across the body only 4-6 inches and evaluate the sensation
before going further. Square the foot. You can take your gaze to the right.
Bring the right leg back to center. Repeat the first stretch for 3 breaths.
Release the strap and let both legs go long on the mat. Notice how you
Repeat on the left side.
Outer Hip Stretch, Hip Opener (1/2 pigeon on back)
Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Cross the right ankle
below the left knee. Flex the right foot to engage the muscles that support
the knee and keep it safe from twisting. Consider staying right here with
your right hand on the right thigh to encourage an opening. To go deeper,
bring the left knee into the chest. Thread the right hand through the
opening between the legs and reach the left hand around the outer left
thigh. Take hold behind the left knee. Drop the left foot and relax the left
shin. To go deeper, take hold of the left shin. Please be sure to keep your
right foot flexed to protect your knee. 10 breaths. Repeat on the left side.
Deep Gluteal and Periformis Stretch
Cross your right thigh over your left thigh and snuggle your knees
together, as if you were sitting at the dining room table. Flex both feet to
protect your knees and your ankles. Hug the knees into your chest and
press your hips down. To go deeper, take hold of your shins (your right
hand will hold the your shin and your left hand will hold your right shin).
Begin to move the feet away from midline, out to the sides and toward the
floor. To go deeper, take hold of your feet (which are flexed, right?) and
move the feet away from midline and toward the floor. 10 breaths. Repeat
on the left side.
Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor. Arms rest by your sides
with the palms on the mat. Lift your hips only 1 to 2 inches off the floor and
let them drop, plunk, onto the mat. Do not lift more than 2 inches. Repeat