When there is tightness in the hip flexors and the lower back extensor muscles, or when the core is weak and disengaged, the pelvis tends to tilt forward, putting stress on the facet joints in the lower back.
This exercise is designed to stretch and elongate the spine. It helps the muscles in the lower back stretch and release tension, which may provide some relief. Additionally, it offers decompression for the facet joints, particularly the L5-S1 joint.
Improved flexibility and range of motion in the surrounding muscles can improve circulation and reduce the pooling of inflammation, aiding in the healing of the lower back joints.
To perform the L5 facet joint stretch:
- Begin by kneeling on the floor. You may want to use a yoga mat or a soft surface for added comfort.
- Place the top of your foot on the floor and slightly widen your knees, wider than hip-width apart.
- Extend your arms in front of you and rest your palms together on the floor, slightly off to the right or left.
- Sit back on your heels and rest your buttocks on your heels. If your buttocks don’t comfortably reach your heels, you can keep them off the feet or place a folded blanket or bolster between your buttocks and heels or between the floor and the ankle for support.
- Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, gently lower your torso backward while keeping your hands planted on the ground. This elongates and stretches your back. You can push your hips out to the side and away from the direction of your hands. This will focus the stretch mainly on the facet joint opposite to where your hands are placed.
Remember to listen to your body and modify the pose as needed to suit your comfort and flexibility.