At some point, we’ll all likely have some low back pain. While there are many different causes as to why this happens, it’s often due to a overworked stiff low back.
If you have anterior pelvic tilt, the low back is by definition shortened. It doesn't mean however that your low back muscles can't fully stretch.
But, if you have anterior pelvic tilt, and you find the low back muscles can't fully stretch, you need to do something about it. First, let's see if your low back muscles are able to stretch the way they should.
To do this, we'll use the prone rock test.
With the prone rock test, you need to see if your spine is rounded like a turtle shell. If you see any flat spots in the low back, you have a tight low back.
If you don't have a tight low back, it doesn't mean the prone rock test is useless. You can the prone rock position to deactivate the low back muscle.
Did you notice that Ariel has a hinge point in his thoracic spine? While this deserves attention, if we saw a hinge spot in his low back, we would make sure that if we stretch this, we make sure that there are no hinge spots during our stretch.
Anytime you stretch, there should be a smooth curve in your low back, just like a turtle shell. This might mean that you need to limit your stretch at first. If you are doing this by yourself, you will need to make sure that when you stretch, you don't observe any hinge points.
Gradually, you will be able to go through a larger range of motion while insuring there are no hinge points.
What if I'm hypermobile in the low back?
If you are very hypermobile, you still need to make sure your low back forms a turtle shell-like curve. Check this using the prone rock test.
It is possible that you may simply be hypermobile in the hips and thoracic spine while you are limited in the lumbar spine or low back.
Assuming you may be hypermobile like the picture above, you may still want to do less of a stretch to inhibit the low back muscles.
The reason why is that in anterior pelvic tilt, the low back muscles are overactivated. To deactivate it, we can do a static stretch of the low back. You don't need to do a stretch as much as the woman demonstrates above, but going to about 70% of a stretch will allow you to deactivate the low back.
While you can use the prone rock test as way to stretch your low back, you will inevitably encounter clients who have knee problems while in the prone rock test.
In that case, you can use a hip flexed chair stretch
This is a great way to stretch the low back (or deactivate it) without irritating the knees.
Since Ariel demonstrates the same hinge point in his thoracic spine in the picture above, I've had Ariel extend or straighten his upper back slightly to smooth out his thoracic spine.
Some individuals will not be able to feel a stretch using the chair stretch above. If that's the case, I recommend using an assisted low back stretch.
You should first make sure there is padding under the mid back and the glutes. This will help flex and target the lumbar spine. Push down (or pull) on the legs making sure you can feel the stretch in the low back.
This stretch is a great way to practice turning on the obliques too. Squeezing the obliques will help to posteriorly tilt the pelvis which is a great way to get out of anterior pelvic tilt.
One of the most convenient ways to stretch the low back is getting into a crouched rounded back position.
Again, make sure you feel the stretch in the low back area. To deepen the stretch, take some deep inhales and exhales.
Upon inhaling, you should try to make sure your low back (and really whole back) is expanding. When you exhale, use your obliques to make help induce a posterior pelvic tilt.
If you find this position is uncomfortable, keep practicing. It's likely that your low back, and possibly whole back is stiff. Breathing and simply being in a flexed position can help to release the tension.
Low back stretching is controversial and for good reason. If you don't have anterior pelvic tilt and are hypermobile, stretching your low back is not warranted and can be dangerous.
Make sure you never stretch into pain and do not have any hinge points when stretching. Do not stretch within thirty minutes upon waking up, as this can compromise your spinal stability.
You will find however that if you do have anterior pelvic tilt, and you have a positive prone rock test, stretching your low back will help you get out of anterior pelvic tilt faster.