11 Back Stretches to Naturally Relieve Back Pain

Lower back stretches don't require great physical effort. In fact, anyone can do them at the slightest sign of pain and they'll provide relief.
11 Back Stretches to Naturally Relieve Back Pain
Elisa Morales Lupayante

Reviewed and approved by the pedagogue in physical education and nutritionist Elisa Morales Lupayante.

Last update: 28 August, 2022

Various stretches and yoga positions can help gently relieve lower back pain. In this article, you’ll find 11 stretches that help counteract tension in the lower back and can relieve recurring pain.

Lower back pain is a really common problem in people who lead a sedentary lifestyle. It’s also prevalent in people who use electronic devices frequently for long periods of time, such as at work. In fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) at least 80 percent of people experience lower back pain for this reason.

The discomfort is characterized by a feeling of tightness and stiffness in the lower back, sometimes accompanied by tingling and difficulty moving. It most often occurs as a result of an injury like a muscle strain or sprain, sudden movements, or poor body mechanics when lifting heavy objects.

1. Lower back kyphosis back stretches

A woman with an exercise ball.

This kyphosis exercise can be a little hard if you suffer from back stiffness or a great deal of back pain. However, with a little practice, you’ll get better and gain better muscular and joint mobility.

In addition, it’s a really good stretching exercise for increasing your energy and improving posture.

How to do it

  • Lie back onto a round surface (like a large ball) and carefully support your back at a level a little lower than your shoulder blades.
  • Get a good hold on the surface, breathe deeply, and then let the rest of your body sink smoothly down.
  • Your spine will curve to the shape of the surface. Hold for five to ten seconds.
  • Repeat eight times.

2. Psoas and iliacus stretches

These stretches are useful for strengthening your back and improving both your posture and joint movement. Regularly practicing them improves your coordination and also strengthens your hips to prevent any possible injuries.

How to do them

  • Find a surface with support, like a table, and two belts.
  • Use one of the belts to tie one foot to a table leg and put the other just below your other foot.
  • With the help of the belt, bring your knee toward your chest as you lie back on the table.
  • Gradually stretch your knee until you feel tension. Hold for three seconds, and then return to your initial position.
  • Repeat with the other leg.

3. Crossed hip stretch

Women in a yoga class doing back stretches.

The crossed hip stretch is one of the most complete and effective stretches for relieving back pain.

In fact, since it improves your flexibility, it’s ideal for relaxing your shoulders, hips, and other parts of your body that are affected by tension.

How to do it

  • Lay on an exercise mat and twist your pelvis to one side while rotating your spine toward the other side.
  • Push your top leg forward, while moving the other leg back, knee bent.
  • Stretch both arms out to the side that your spine is stretching towards, as well as your head.
  • Hold this position for ten seconds then rest.
  • Repeat three times on each side
  • Combine the stretch with deep breathing exercises.

You might also be interested in: Simple Exercises for Back Pain

4. Piriformis stretch

The piriformis stretch is a simple way to stretch your back muscles and relieve tension and stiffness.

How to do it

  • Lay face up on a mat, bend your knees, and put your feet on the ground.
  • Raise your right knee toward your chest and hold it with your left hand. Hold for five seconds.
  • Return to your initial position and then repeat with the other leg.
  • Gradually increase the resistance for up to 30 seconds.

5. Hip flexor stretch to relieve back pain

A woman doing a back stretch.

Your hip flexors are made up of the psoas major, psoas minor, and illiacus muscles that are found in the lesser trochanter of the femur. Stretching your hip flexors has a calming effect on the back region, and relieves pain and stiffness, especially from bad posture.

How to do it

  • Kneel on your right knee and put your left foot in front of you, so your left hip and knee are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Put your right hand on your right hip and push it forward, so it’s in front of your right knee.
  • Keep your chest up and avoid leaning forwards.
  • Hold for ten seconds, rest, and then repeat on the other side.

6. Child’s pose

This is one of the simplest stretches to relieve lower back pain. It’s widely used in yoga and allows you to relax all the muscles in the region and thus relieve discomfort. However, for the first few times, make sure you do it carefully to avoid making your injury worse.

How to do it

  • Get down on the floor on your hands and knees, with the tops of your feet touching the floor and your arms outstretched.
  • Slowly move your buttocks back. The idea is to rest them on your heels.
  • Stretch your hands forward until you reach the maximum limit.
  • Hold the position for a minute before resting.
  • Repeat as many times as you consider necessary.

7. Seated spinal twist

The seated spinal twist is a variant of the cross hips stretch that can be performed anywhere without inconvenience. This posture not only relieves lower back discomfort but also relaxes other areas of the body such as the spine and shoulders.

How to do it

  • Sit crossed-legged with one leg folded in front of the other.
  • Bring your left hand to your right knee and place your right fingertips behind you.
  • Lengthen your spine. Twist from the base of your spine to the right.
  • Hold the position for three to five breaths on each side.

8. Spinal cat-cow stretch

This is one of the stretches to relieve lower back pain that can be done at home comfortably and without the need for a large space. In addition, it stretches the lower back muscles in two different directions, thus offering great relief.

How to do it

  • Get down on your hands and knees.
  • Take a deep breath and look up at the ceiling as you arch your spine down.
  • As you exhale, bring your chin toward your chest and simultaneously arch your spine up.
  • Hold both positions for ten seconds.
  • Rest for two to three seconds before starting a new cycle. Ideally, you should do between four and five cycles.

9. The pelvic tilt

The pelvic tilt is a stretch that requires some strength in the leg muscles to do it effectively. However, it provides almost immediate relief as it involves a large number of muscles.

How to do it

  • Lie on your back, bend your knees, and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Raise your hips slightly and press your shoulder blades into the floor.
  • Hold this position for ten seconds, then lower yourself in a controlled manner.
  • Make sure you don’t hold your breath while doing the exercise.
  • Do as many repetitions as you consider necessary but rest for three seconds between each one.

10. Sphinx pose

This is another of the stretches to relieve lower back pain that’s widely used in yoga, where it’s known as the sun salutation. This position requires great flexibility, so it’s recommended to gradually increase the inclination.

How to do it

  • Lie on your stomach on a solid surface or floor.
  • Rise from the waist using your back and gluteal muscles so that your extended arms support your torso.
  • Press your hips into the ground and keep your gaze upwards or straight ahead.
  • Hold this position for up to three minutes.

11. Knees to chest stretch

This is a movement similar to the piriformis stretch, only it uses both legs simultaneously. The knees-to-chest stretch helps lengthen contracted lower back muscles, thereby effectively relieving pain.

How to do it

  • Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and your heels on the floor.
  • Place your hands just below the ball of the knees.
  • Slowly bring both knees toward your chest, using your hands to apply additional pressure.
  • Hold the position for 30 seconds and return to the starting position in a controlled manner.

Looking after your back is extremely important

Your spine and back are extremely important areas of your body because they help you to stand up upright. A study published by the Mutua Colaboradora de la Seguridad Social (FREMAP) showed that sports and physical activities are really beneficial for the body.

You also need to take care of your diet, try to maintain a suitable weight, avoid toxins such as tobacco and alcohol, try to reduce anxiety and stress, and finally, practice good sleep hygiene. All of this will help greatly in taking care of your back and lumbar region.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.