The lower back is the area that has the burden of carrying most of the weight of the body. As muscles are overused they can become fatigued and less able to provide the support necessary to keep the back in its proper alignment. Muscles and ligaments both support the boney structure of the back called the spinal column. Overused muscle can lead to back strains (torn or overstretched muscle) or back sprains (torn ligaments). In many cases, inflammation will occur to protect the strained/sprained area. Inflammation can lead to muscle spasms and other back pain. Weakened muscles leave other parts of the back susceptible to injury.
Muscle strain can come from overuse, such as lifting and bending for a long period of time, or it can also come from built up tension. Long periods of stress, whether environmental or emotional can weaken the muscles in the back. Strengthening muscle and releasing tension are both important steps in preventing injury. This knee tuck feels good and releases tension in the lower back:
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet and head on the floor. Tilt your pelvis slightly toward the ceiling to reduce the lumbar curve (remove any large hollow there might be between your back and the floor). Keep your knees bent and slowly raise them and pull them toward your chest. Put your arms around your knees and hug them close to your chest. Make sure to keep your head on the ground and keep breathing. If you like you can gently rock from side to side while your knees are elevated. You should feel a release of tension in your lower back. Release your knees and slowly bring your feet back to the ground. This stretch can also be done with the knees separated and the arms hugging each knee separately.