The prayer stretch is a great stretch that primarily targets the extensor muscles of the back. The prayer stretch is excellent because it limits the loading placed on the low back while performing the stretch and allows you to fully relax, letting gravity do the work for you. The prayer stretch is one of the best stretches you can do to protect yourself from a low back injury and to help relieve pain during the rehabilitation from a low back injury. When people injure their low back, the muscles surrounding the area of the injury will tighten to guard the area from further injury. The problem is that this constant tension in these muscle groups, can increase pain when a nerve is involved and decreases blood flow to this area. Decreased blood flow increases the time for healing. So stretching the muscles in this area help break this cycle and allow for the body to heal.
To perform the prayer stretch first consider the surface you are performing it on. Due to your knees making direct contact with the surface you will probably want to perform this stretch on some form of padded surface. Also if you have knee pain you may want to place a pillow between the backs of your thighs and calves when you are kneeling.
- On your hands and knees, sit back so your buttocks is resting on your heels.
- Reach your hands forward to lengthen your spine and feel a stretch in your middle back.
- You can reach your hands to either side to focus the stretch on the opposite side of your spine.
- Hold for 10-30 seconds and perform 2-3 repetitions.
When should I perform the prayer stretch?
The prayer stretch can be performed prior to or after any workout program, especially with back loading is involved. This will help prevent injury. Performing this stretch after injury will help expedite the healing process.
When should I avoid performing the prayer stretch?
The prayer stretch needs to be approached with caution if you are dealing with back pain. Some people with severe knee pain will have difficulty performing the stretch. If you feel an increase in pain or numbness, stop and contact your doctor.