Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Our lower backs tend to take the brunt of heavy lifting, awkward sleeping, or immobilization from sitting at a desk from 9-5 (or longer for some). It’s important that we find ways to incorporate stretching into our routine so that we don’t overburden and over stress our back! Here are 5 healthy ways to stretch your back if you’re feeling slight to moderate pain.

Before you start to stretch, make sure that:

  • You’re in comfortable clothing that won’t constrict
  • You do not force your body into painful or very uncomfortable positions. Stretching should not hurt, but help!
  • Go slowly and avoid bouncing, which can put unnecessary strain on your muscles and do a great deal of harm.
  • Stretch in an area that is free and open so you have enough room to comfortable move around.
  • Hold stretches for 20-30 seconds so that your muscles and joints may loosen up!
  • Repeat the stretch 5-10 times to get the body fluid.


Stretches for Lower Back Pain

  1. Flexion Stretch (chin to chest): A stiff back is often in conjunction with a stiff neck, so it’s great to start off stretching the neck and shoulder area as well. While standing or sitting, gently bend the head forward while bringing the chin toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the back of neck.
  2. Lateral Flexion (ear to shoulder): This exercise stretches the neck area below the ears as well as the top of the shoulder. To begin, gently bend the neck to one side as if to touch the ear to the shoulder until a stretch is felt in the side of the neck. Switch to stretch the other side.
  3. Back Flexion Exercise: While lying on one’s back, pull both knees to the chest while simultaneously flexing the head forward until a comfortable stretch is felt in a balled-up position.
  4. Knee to Chest Stretch: While lying on the back with the knees bent and both heels on the floor, place both hands behind one knee and bring it to the chest.
  5. Hip Stretch: The hips and buttocks (where the gluteus muscles are) support the lower back, and stretching these muscle groups plays a pivotal role in maintaining spine flexibility. While standing with feet shoulder-width apart, take a half-step back with the right foot, bend the left knee and shift weight back to the right hip. While keeping the right leg straight, bend forward more and reach down the right leg until a stretch in the outer hip is felt.
  6. BONUS! Piriformis Muscle Stretch: The piriformis muscle runs through the buttock and can contribute to back pain or leg pain. To stretch the this muscle, lie on the back and cross one leg over the other and gently pull the other knee toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock area.


Another great resource for stretches is Athletico Physical Therapy

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