Loosen Up with a 10-Minute, Lower-Back Stretch Routine

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An Army soldier participates in a yoga class at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Army Spc. Camree Pearson, supply specialist, Company F, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, participates in a yoga class at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, April 3, 2019. (Sgt. Jennifer Shick/U.S. Army photo)

With many gyms closed over the past year, we’ve learned to be creative with fitness training in the house, realizing how easy it is to do more with less. One of the best routines that requires nothing more than your time is stretching. My 2021 goal is to add a 10-minute stretch to my day, even if those minutes are spread throughout the day rather than in a single 10-minute session.

My research led me to the Instagram page, DOYOUyoga. That page features infographics that demonstrate a variety of stretches and yoga poses.

The Lower Back Stretch infographic shows one of the easier series of poses. My goal is to be able to do 10 lower-back-focused posts, which you can do for a minute each without pain or discomfort.

There are many ways to add gentle yoga-inspired stretches to your day. Doing each pose for a minute each in one 10-minute session is my first goal, but there are times after sitting for a few hours that I will do 2-3 minutes of a few stretches, just to get the kinks out.

Here are more ideas:

Spread Through the Day

Another way to add a stretch or two for a few minutes at a time is to set a timer or alarm for every 30 minutes when sitting at a work desk. Walk around every hour on the hour, sip some water or use the restroom. Every half-hour, get up and do two or three stretches. You will be surprised how this lessens the typical aches and pains from stiffness in the lower back and legs at the end of the day after just a week of stretching.

Mobility and Flexibility Workout

You can add a stand-alone stretch and non-impact cardio workout to your week whenever you need it or use it as a midweek placeholder between much more challenging running, lifting or calisthenics workouts.

We do the following workout every Wednesday:

Repeat five times.

Bike, elliptical, row or stair stepper for five minutes

Stretch, foam roll or massage tool for 5-10 minutes

Add more stretching poses to this workout since you are devoting more than 10 minutes to just stretching. You can do all of the stretches from the above chart at least two times during this workout. You will feel the benefits immediately as you walk around feeling less pain, compared to running or lifting workouts.

Morning and Evening Stretch Time

Try to create a new habit where you stretch at the same time every day and night for 10 minutes. You can do this while you watch television or wait for coffee to brew. Do a five- to 10-minute session of the above stretches and hold each for 30-60 seconds.

There are many ways to add flexibility to your day. Even if you exercise often, most people can benefit from adding flexibility training to their day.

The good news is that stretching does not take much time, and as you get more comfortable with your chosen poses, you can find more to try. Maybe even take a yoga class when you are ready. If you enjoy these stretches, check into a beginner yoga course locally or find some videos online to help you progress.

Every expert starts out as a beginner. I found my skill that needs the most work. What is yours?

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you’re looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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