How to Decompress the Lower Back?

Out of all three regions of the back, the lower back is the most susceptible to pain and injury. This is due to its remarkable flexibility, as well as its responsibility to support a significant amount of body weight.

Table of Contents

  • Why is My Lower Back So Tight?
  • Is It Good to Decompress Your Spine?
  • How Do I Decompress My Lower Back By Myself?
  • What Exercises Decompress Your Spine?
  • How Do You Sleep to Decompress Your Spine?
  • Side Sleeping For Spinal Decompression
  • Back Sleeping For Spinal Decompression
  • Is Lying on the Floor Good for Your Back?
  • Is Hanging Good for Your Back?
  • When Decompression Surgery is Required?
  • What is L4 L5 Decompression Surgery?
  • Is Lumbar Decompression Major Surgery?
  • What Is the Recovery Time for Spinal Decompression Surgery?
  • Nerve compression in the lumbar spine can lead to pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to look into how to decompress the lower back.  

    Why is My Lower Back So Tight?

    Your lower back may be tight because of trauma from a sudden accident (auto accident, sports accident, or fall), an overuse injury, poor posture, or one of several possible spinal conditions. 

    The spinal conditions that can cause lower back tightness include:

    • Back sprains (torn or overstretched ligament)
    • Back strains (tears in muscle or tendon tissue)
    • Herniated disc, an injury involving a damaged intervertebral disc
    • Spinal stenosis, a condition involving a narrowed spinal canal
    • Spondylolisthesis, a condition involving a vertebra that slips out of place
    • Radiculopathy, a condition involving nerve root compression that can involve the spinal nerve roots
    • Sciatica, a type of radiculopathy affecting the sciatic nerve
    • Scoliosis and other skeletal irregularities
    • Arthritis affecting the joints of the spine

    From the list above, lower back tightness can clearly stem from various causes. So, if your back tightness doesn’t resolve with at-home methods, visit a medical professional for a diagnosis. 

    Is It Good to Decompress Your Spine?

    It is good to decompress your spine so long as you use safe, physician-recommended techniques. You may also want to consider seeing a certified chiropractor for professional manual decompression. 

    How Do I Decompress My Lower Back By Myself?

    To decompress your lower back by yourself, there are a few different methods to choose from. Here are some of the most popular at-home spinal decompression techniques:

    • Side-Lying Technique
      • Start by lying on the side of your body, either on a couch or bed, with your knees bent and your heels stacked. 
      • Dip your shins down, off of the couch or bed. This should provide a sensation of your pelvis dropping to one side and a lower back stretch. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds. 
      • Return your shins to the couch or bed. Take a 30-second break and repeat. 
      • Continue to repeat the stretch for 10 to 15 minutes, with 30 seconds between each repetition. 
    • Overhead Stretch
      • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
      • Extend your arms above your head and interlace your fingers.
      • Straighten your elbows so that your palms are reaching toward the ceiling.
      • Slowly bend to either side to stretch the sides of the back.
      • Hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat as needed. 
    • Hanging Technique (requires access to a pull-up bar)
      • Make sure that your bar is sturdy enough to hold your full body weight. 
      • Grab the bar with both hands so that your feet lift up off the floor. 
      • Hang from the bar, gradually relaxing your muscles so that your full weight is hanging from the bar. 
      • Remain in this position for 10 to 30 seconds, then release the bar so that your feet return to the floor. 
      • Relax for a minute, then repeat the exercise four to six times. 

    What Exercises Decompress Your Spine?

    Various exercises can decompress your spine, including:

    • Pelvic Tilts
      • Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the ground. Your lower back should naturally lift slightly off of the floor. 
      • On an exhale, press your lower back into the floor using your abdominal muscles and gently roll your hips upward, off of the floor. 
      • Remain in a lifted bridge position for a few positions, then slowly return to the starting position. 
      • Repeat five to 10 times. 
    • Cat-and-Cow
      • Get on the floor on all fours, with your hips in line with your shoulders, your hands right under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. 
      • Gently arch your back by moving your head down. Breathe deeply. 
      • Slowly move into a reverse arch by bringing your head and tailbone up toward the ceiling. 
      • Repeat five to 20 times. 
    • Prayer Stretch
      • Get on the floor on all fours.
      • Sit back on your knees so that your buttocks touch your feet. Drop your head and reach forward. 
      • Bring your weight forward onto your hands, stretching as far forward as you can without experiencing pain. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. 
      • Repeat two to four times. 

    How Do You Sleep to Decompress Your Spine?

    To sleep to decompress your spine, opt for a chiropractor-recommended sleeping position. While sleeping on your stomach is never advised for spinal health, you can choose either a side or back sleeping position to decompress your spine. 

    Side Sleeping For Spinal Decompression

    Lie on your side with your hips flexed around 30 degrees. Then, bend your knees to a 30-degree angle and flex your knees around 30 degrees. Place a pillow beneath your neck and a small pillow under your knees. 

    This position is an excellent way for side-sleepers to decompress their spine while they sleep.  

    Back Sleeping For Spinal Decompression

    Lie on your back and place a pillow under your knees, keeping them at a 30-degree angle. Place a pillow under your neck and maintain a neutral position of the head. 

    Sleeping on your back is widely considered to be the best position for spinal health. Using a pillow under the knees to relax your lower back can help decompress the spine while you sleep. 

    Is Lying on the Floor Good for Your Back?

    Lying on the floor may feel good for your back, as it does for some patients, but there’s little evidence to prove that sleeping on the floor is healthier for your back than a firm mattress. 

    Is Hanging Good for Your Back?

    Yes, hanging is good for your back in certain conditions because it can help stretch and decompress the spine. Make sure to only hang for a limited period, such as 30 seconds, and only hang on a bar that’s made to support your full body weight. Don’t jump off too hard since you can compress the vertebrae back. Please consult your doctor to identify the individual preferences for your lower back problems.

    When Decompression Surgery is Required?

    Decompression surgery is required for patients who don’t improve after six to 12 months of non-surgical treatment. It may also be required for patients with a spinal condition that’s causing severe pain and/or disability. 

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    What is L4 L5 Decompression Surgery?

    L4 L5 decompression surgery is a form of spinal surgery that involves creating more space around compressed nerves at the L4 L5 level of the lumbar spine. This is most commonly achieved through a laminectomy, a form of decompression during which the surgeon removes some or all of the lamina to create more space in the spinal canal. 

    Is Lumbar Decompression Major Surgery?

    Traditionally, lumbar decompression has been a major surgery involving a lengthy recovery period. This is because decompression is typically done with spinal fusion, a procedure that fuses the affected vertebrae to prevent spinal instability. However, with recent innovations in spinal medicine, minimally-invasive lumbar decompression methods are available, such as the TOPS System

    What Is the Recovery Time for Spinal Decompression Surgery?

    The recovery time for spinal decompression surgery can last between one month and a year, depending on the method of decompression and the patient’s overall health. If spinal fusion is involved, the patient may need a full year to recover. With the TOPS System non-fusion implant, on the other hand, patients return to a full range of motion immediately after the procedure. 

    To learn more about lumbar spine decompression and the available treatment options, talk to a spine specialist in your area today.