Easing your back

Start with lying on your back with your legs bent and your head in a comfortable position. Now let your back sink down. Notice where you touch the surface. Where can you feel your weight? Where can you feel a space? How does one side feel, compared to the other? Now take a deep breath and let yourself sink further down.

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For the following movements keep your ribs and your legs completely still, only move your pelvis and your deep muscles (core). If necessary check your ribs that there is no movement. Put your hands on your pubic bone. Now tuck your tail bone in, you should feel a lifting of your pubic bone, and the space between your lower back and the surface flatten. Now tilt your tail bone a little, increase the space below your lower back again. Go backward and forward, notice which movement is easier. This is a small movement if you keep your legs and ribs still. Make the movement as smooth as you can. Now find a space in the middle.

Imagine you have clock face underneath your lower back. Subtly move your back to the noon position - this should be the tucking movement from the previous exercise. If you go to 6 o'clock your are in the tilt. Again, keep your ribs and your legs still. Now go to the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock position. Try all the different points on the clock with subtle movements of your pelvis. Follow the imaginary hand of the clock in both directions. Find a neutral position for your lower back. How does your back feel now?

Lie on your back on a firm surface, for example a yoga matt or a carpet. Bend your legs, put your lower back in "neutral", find a pillow for your head if required. Relax for a few moments, take a deep breath. Now slowly lift your straight arms over your head. Keep your lower back where it is. Feel the stretch at the front of the chest and belly. Rest your arms over your head and take a few breaths. Bring your arms back. Roll up a towel and place under your ribcage at the back. Again lift your arms over your head and you will feel a stronger stretch. Experiment with the thickness of the towel roll. Enjoy the opening of your chest and upper belly.

You can strengthen you upper back and shoulder blade muscles with the W exercise. Make a W shape with your arms, palms facing forwards. Keep your chin tucked in, remember, ears aligned with shoulders. Pull your shoulder blades down and in. This is a small movement, if you move from the right place. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat often.

With your legs against the wall

This is a series of stretches with your legs up a wall. Having your legs up a wall is a great way to spend some time, it is easy to stretch and gives you energy as the fluid pooled in the legs has an opportunity to join the rest of your circulation. Even when we are fit and well, we tend to have a little bit more fluid in our legs as the day goes on. These stretches can really help with lower back pain.

You can lean your legs against a wall either on the floor (if you can get down and back up), on your bed if it is against a wall, or any soft piece of furniture that is against a wall. If you are doing it on the floor, you need a carpet or yoga matt and a pillow.

Move your bottom really close to the wall, almost up it, while on your side with your legs bent. Find a way of turning unto your back while staying with your bottom close to the wall - a bit of a challenge as you will slide away. Keep your legs bent. Get your head comfortable with a pillow, keep you chin slightly tucked in.

Straighten your legs until you feel a stretch in the back of your legs. Rest, breathe, let your shoulders ease towards the floor/bed. Allow the back of your body to lengthen, don't let your lower back arch. After a little while you may be comfortable to straighten your legs a little more. Again, rest and breathe. Repeat. The next stage is moving your feet and ankles, for best effect nice and slow. You can start with big movements of your toes, get them moving. Then involve your whole foot, scrunch it up and stretch your toes towards your nose. You may feel all this in the back of your legs, do these movements until they feel easy(ish). Now involve your ankles - big circles both directions. Last in this section, pull your feet and toes towards you, in other words,  flex your ankle. You will really feel this in the back of your legs, but it will ease. You can use a towel or an exercise band to make the stretch more intensive.

For the lower back stretch bring your thighs towards your chest, bending your legs. You can use your feet to push off the wall for an extra stretch. Hold. You can hug your knees and move slightly from side to side, enjoy the opening of your lower back. You can use a towel or an exercise band.

To stretch buttock, to be precise your piriformis muscle, straighten your legs again and bring the outside of one ankle over your other thigh, so that the leg is bent and out to the side. Bend the leg that is up against a wall more and more until you feel a stretch. Your lower back may lift off the floor. Hold. I find this particular stretch horrible but necessary. Do the other side.

Finally, hug your legs again. Roll to your side. Uncurl yourself and get up and enjoy the rest of the day.

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