3 years ago

5 Lower Back Stretches To Keep Back Pain At Bay 

Regular stretching is a great way to increase your flexibility and get rid of back pain. So incorporate these 5 lower back stretches into your day and feel the benefits for yourself. 

lower back stretches

If you're reading this then I'm sure you're all too familiar with that painful feeling you get from tight and aching muscles in your lower back. 

And not only is this pain frustrating, it can also make every day feel like a major struggle. 

As the pain just gets worse and worse as the day goes on and your muscles tighten and tense even more. 

Which leaves you feeling really uncomfortable, miserable, and in a lot of pain.

But what if I told you that you can reduce this pain by stretching your back out regularly?

And that by taking just a few minutes every couple of hours to stretch your body, you will feel far more comfortable and relaxed? 

Well you can, and I'm going to introduce you to 5 lower back stretches to get you started.

These stretches are great for relieving pressure and tension, can be done at home, and are really easy to do.

And once you get into the habit of doing them regularly and feel the benefits, you'll never want to give them up!

The Benefits Of Regular Stretching For Your Back

benefits of lower back stretches

The Mexican wave wasn't quite as effective with a crowd of two.

Stretching your back regularly will bring you so many health benefits for your back such as: 

  • Increasing the flexibility of your spine (and body in general), which will relieve pressure and make moving easier and less painful.
  • Relaxing your muscles which will improve your posture as tight muscles can force your body into hunched positions.
  • Improving your circulation, which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your damaged muscles so they can heal, repair, and stay healthy.
  • Loosening and lengthening your tight muscles which lowers the risk of injuries, strains, and pulls.
  • And finally it feels great, as the instant release of tension you get from stretching is really satisfying.

Not bad for such a simple activity, right?​

So here are 5 great stretches you can do for your lower back to help you get started.

1. The Cat/Cow Stretch

The cat/cow stretch is great increasing the movement in your lower back and relieving tension.

And it's also great for increasing the flexibility of your spine, which will relieve pressure and reduce the amount of pain you feel in your back.

How To Do It

  • Get into position on all fours with your knees under your hips and your palms under your shoulders.
  • Make sure your spine is in a neutral 'tabletop' position.
  • As you inhale engage your core muscles, dip your pelvis while lifting the shoulders and look upwards (creating a 'u' shape in your spine).
  • As you exhale lift your pelvis up first, round the shoulders, and bring your chin to your chest and look down (creating an 'n' shape in your spine). 
  • Keep going with this sequence alongside your breath for 5-10 rounds.

2. Extended Child's Pose

Child's pose is such a lovely stretch.

It's used during yoga and pilates classes​ as a restful pose and the word restful sums it up perfectly.

​Because not only will it give your back a nice, restorative stretch.

It'll leave you feeling at peace too.

How To Do It

  • Get into an all fours position with your knees under your hips and your palms slightly forward in front of your head.
  • Now widen your knees slightly and bring the toes of your feet together (creating a 'v' shape).
  • Keeping your palms on the floor, sit your body back so that your bum is resting on your heels.
  • Now rest your head down onto the floor/mat.
  • While you are in this position breathe in and out naturally and relax completely into the stretch.
  • You'll find that your body sinks deeper into the stretch with each exhale.
  • And it's up to you how long you want to hold this position for, but try for between 30-60 seconds to begin with and see how you feel. 
  • Also be careful to rise out of this position slowly once finished so you don't tweak anything.

3. The Knee To Chest Stretch

This exercise is a good one for strengthening and relaxing your glutes as well as your lower back.

And this is important.

Because when your lower back is tight your glutes take on a lot of the strain and can became tight and painful too.​

And when you glutes are tight they can't function as they need to, which results in your lower back having to carry more of the load.

Which puts it under even more strain (leaving you in even more pain!).

So keep your glutes stretched out and loose with this knee to chest stretch.

How To Do It

  • Lie down flat on your back with your knees bent and both feet on the floor.
  • Keeping your right foot on the floor, place both hands on your left knee and bring it in towards your chest. Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Return to starting position. Now do the same but with your right knee, keeping your left foot on the floor.
  • Repeat 3-5 times for each side.
  • If this is too easy you can increase the stretch by straightening the leg you are not holding out in front of you rather than keeping it bent at the knee.

4. The Knee Roll Twist Stretch

This stretch is great for getting some movement into your lower back and also for stretching out your abdominal muscles.

Which is good because stretching your abs keeps them strong and healthy, which helps them to support your lower back.

And stronger abs will also help you to maintain a better posture too, taking pressure off your body.

So it's a win-win!

How To Do It

  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor close to your buttocks, and your arms out to the side at a 90 degree angle from your body.
  • Your knees and feet should be touching.
  • As you exhale lower your knees over to one side while turning your head to face the opposite way.
  • Make sure to keep both shoulders on the floor as you do this.
  • Now relax your body and hold this pose for 3 deep breaths.
  • Then exhale and return to the starting position, and repeat this process but for the other side this time.
  • Repeat 3 times for each side.

5. The Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis muscle is a really important one to get to know if you suffer from persistent back pain.

This is because it's a prominent muscle in your buttock area that sits in the same place as your sciatic nerve endings.

And when your piriformis muscle is tight or strained it can pinch on these sciatic nerves.

Which will leave you with not just lower back pain but sciatic pain shooting down your legs too.

So make sure you keep your piriformis muscle fully stretched out and loose with this stretch.

How To Do It

  • Lie down flat on your back with your knees bent and both feet on the floor.
  • Keeping your left leg where it is, cross your right leg over your left knee and place your right ankle on it.
  • Now keeping your back on the floor lift your left foot off the ground.
  • Reach through with both hands and hold onto the back of your left hamstring.
  • Slowly and carefully pull your hamstring towards your body until you feel a stretch in your glutes.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds then release.
  • Repeat this process with the other leg (left leg crossed over right knee).
  • Stretch 2-3 times on each side.

Important Things To Remember While Stretching

dangers of stretching

Stretching regularly is a great habit to get into, but you need to make sure you are it safely.

Because while stretching can work wonders for your back pain, it can also cause you damage if you do it incorrectly.

So before you stretch keep the following in mind:

  • Don't stretch cold muscles - Make sure you warm up first.
  • Be careful not to overstretch - Listen to your body and stop immediately if you feel pain or discomfort.
  • Don't bounce - Move into each stretch slowly and hold once you get there.
  • Stretch both sides of your body equally - this prevents muscle imbalances from forming.
  • Breathe normally - Holding your breath while stretching will cause your muscles to tense up rather than relax.

However get these things right and stretching is a really safe, easy, and beneficial activity for your back and overall health.

Don't Only Stretch Out Your Back

Stretching your back out regularly is great, and the exercises shown here will really help you.

However, if you want to get the maximum benefit then you need to be stretching out your whole body and not just your back.

​This is because your body works as a whole.

And each part needs to be functioning well to avoid any compensating or muscle imbalances from developing.

So stiffness and tightness in other areas of the body can be a cause of lower back pain, and can mean your lower back doesn't get the support it needs and has to work harder than it needs to.

So as well as your lower back it's also important to stretch out the following areas:

  • Neck and shoulders - We tend to hold a lot of tension in these areas which can lead to a hunched posture, so stretch them out regularly.
  • Hips and groin - Tightness in these areas limits your range of movement and forces your lower back to do more work, so keep them stretched and loose to give your spine the support it needs.
  • Glutes - Your backside becomes overworked and tight when your lower back is tense, so it's important to keep your glutes stretched out and loose to avoid sciatic pain.
  • Hamstrings - Your hamstrings are likely to tighten up if you have back pain, and tight hamstrings might even be the cause of your lower back pain, so it's vital to stretch them out regularly.

So stretching out your whole body regularly rather than just your back will be far more effective for reducing back pain.

And if you want an idea of some great stretching routines you can do, check out Fitness Blender.

As they have free routines especially for people with lower back pain, with an example being the video below.

Rounding Up

I hope that you find these stretches useful and that they help to reduce your pain and keep you more flexible.

As personally I couldn't survive without regular stretching.

It's been a massive game changer for me and has helped me to stay relatively pain-free during the day.

So give these stretches a try for yourself.

And remember to try and incorporate stretches for your whole body too once you've got the hang of the lower back ones.

After all, who doesn't want to feel looser, happier, and more relaxed?

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I'm a psychology graduate and a veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. I want to help people learn how to fight back against persistent back pain just like I have.

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