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Your lower back is a key area of your body -- one that needs to be carefully prioritized. As part of your core region, your lower back plays a role in most of your daily movements and helps you maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. When it comes to keeping the area in good condition, perform a few essential actions, including regular exercise and stretching. By doing safe stretches specifically around the L5 and S1, you can enjoy a better back and overall healthy.
To stretch your lower back safely, familiarize yourself with its anatomy. Your spine is made up of four sections: the cervical, thoracic, lumbar and sacral regions. The L5 is the lowest vertebrae in your lumbar region, and the S1 is the highest of five bony segments fused together to form your sacrum. According to Pamela E. Verkuilen, APNP, of the NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin, the lumbar section of your spine bears most of your body's weight and allows for the most motion, while the sacrum serves as the base of the spine and makes up part of the pelvis.
L5 and S1 Problems
Because the lumbar region facilitates so much of your motion, it is prone to the most problems. People who experience back pain typically refer to discomfort in this area, and these conditions can even cause pain throughout your legs and feet. The segment where the L5 and S1 meet can also degenerate and create pain, making movement difficult. Injuries to the area can include strained or pulled muscles or issues with a disc or nerve.
Benefits of Stretching
Stretching is one of the most beneficial activities you can do for your lower back. According to the Mayfield Clinic, stretching your back increases flexibility in the tissues around your spine and pelvis, which facilitates greater movement and decreases the force on your joints. Stretching also reduces your risk for injury, prepares your muscles for activity and can also decrease your overall level of stress and anxiety.
Safe Stretches for the L5 and S1
Because the L5 and S1 are in such a highly used area, stretch with your health and safety in mind, especially if you've had problems or injuries in the past. Avoid stretching to the point of pain and always hold a stretch -- don't bounce. Ease into the stretches slowly and hold your pose for 20 to 30 seconds. Some of the safest stretches for your L5 and S1 area include yoga's cat and cow poses, lying knees-to-chest stretches and gentle spinal twists. Do these stretches two to three times per day, including after you workout. Consult with your doctor any time you engage in a new activity involving your lower back.