Every so often my lower back gets tight. Sometimes it’s sore from CrossFit, and sometimes it hurts from sitting down for too long, like in an airplane or at my desk. It’s uncomfortable and I like to get rid of it as quickly as I can.
I used to just lay on a foam roller or lacrosse ball for awhile and try to smash out the tissues in my lower back. This feels good in the moment but usually didn’t do much for me in the long run. What I’ve found most effective is to move down the posterior chain a little bit and loosen up my hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors as well.
You’ve probably heard this a ton before, but it’s worth repeating. We know a bunch of muscles have connections to our low back, and sometimes tightness in these areas is the root of the tightness in your back. It’s not limited to the muscles I mentioned either, although those are probably pretty common ones. You’re well aware and it makes perfect sense, but sometimes a little pain and discomfort makes us quick to forget.
Before you put the foam roller directly on where it hurts, take a second to see what else feels tight. I know how good that foam roller feels, and you can definitely still roll out your low back, but add in a few minutes of hamstring mobility. Dig a lacrosse ball into your glutes and hunt around for where it feels tight. Put that lacrosse ball on the inside of your hip bone, lay on top of it, and go hunting again.
Maybe even throw in the couch stretch. Most mobility gurus recommend 2 minutes per area, but if you don’t have that kind of time (but really, you don’t have 12 extra minutes?) do what you can. There are tons of great exercises out there, so if you’re unsure don’t hesitate to ask a Coach. But, if you’ve been in the gym for a little while you probably have some favorites you can try out.
Now to state the obvious — I’m not talking about a back injury here or other serious medical condition. You’ll have to talk to the pros for that. I’m just giving a friendly reminder to not neglect the tissues surrounding the tightness. I hope this helps some of you like it helped me!