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Effective Stretches for Lower Back Pain Relief

by Jessica Hegg August 13, 2019 0 Comments

Woman stretching her leg with stretch strap

Regular, gentle stretches for lower back pain can work wonders for symptom relief and are a vital part of the recovery process for almost any injury. Stretching doesn’t just alleviate low back pain, it can also strengthen the back and properly warm your muscles to prevent problems from recurring. Keep reading to learn safe and effective stretches for lower back pain relief.

    Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain

    To reduce lower back pain, we recommend a combination of stretches that target and warm up your hamstrings, glutes and core. If your mobility is limited, there are also variations of stretches that can easily be performed from a seated position.

    Check out some of our top recommended stretches to relieve lower back pain below. If you’re unsure of your limits and abilities, consider working with a physical therapist to create a stretching program suitable for your needs.

    Hamstring and Glute Stretches

    The hamstring and glute muscles are often times common contributors to lower back pain. This group of muscles run from the buttocks down the back of the thigh and knee - allowing the knee to bend and the hip to extend. By stretching out these muscles, you will reduce tension in the lower back. Try out these simple hamstring and glute:

    Standing Hamstring Stretch

    1. Stand up straight with a chair in front of you. Place one foot on the chair, keeping the leg straight. Rotate the toes of the foot slightly outward.
    2. Keeping your back straight, lean forward slightly from the hips.
    3. When you feel a stretch in your hamstring, hold your pose for 30 seconds.
    4. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other leg.
    5. Perform 3 to 5 repetitions on each leg.

    Towel Hamstring Stretch

    1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Loop a towel or stretch strap around your right foot.
    2. Grasp the towel ends firmly with both hands and lie back, bringing your right leg straight up in the air. Your left leg should remain flat against the floor.
    3. Gently pull on the towel until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds.
    4. Repeat on the other leg. Perform 3 to 5 repetitions per leg.

    Wall Hamstring Stretch

    1. Lie down on the floor next to a wall.
    2. Keeping one leg straight, lift the other leg up and place it against the wall. You should feel a stretch in your hamstring. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
    3. Repeat on the other leg. Perform 3 to 5 repetitions per leg.

    Piriformis Muscle Stretch

    1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your arms flat beside you.
    2. Take hold of your right knee with both hands and gently pull it upward toward the left shoulder. You should feel a stretch in the piriformis muscle, deep in the buttocks.
    3. Then, place your right ankle across your left leg and gently push the right knee outward.
    4. Next, take hold of your left thigh and pull it toward your chest so that you feel a good stretch in the right buttock. Hold for 30 seconds.
    5. Repeat on the other side.

    Core Stretches

    Performing stretches that target your core will help to increase flexibility and improve posture, which in turn will reduce your lower back pain. Try mixing in these stretches to loosen your core fire up the abdominal muscles.

    Bird-Dog Stretch

    1. Position yourself on your hands and knees on a mat. Keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
    2. Carefully stretch your right leg out behind you, with your toe pointed.
    3. Then stretch the left arm out in front of you.
    4. Extend your stretch and hold for 5 to 10 seconds before returning to the starting position.
    5. Repeat for 5 to 15 repetitions.
    6. Switch and repeat using your left leg and your right arm.

    Single Knee to Chest Stretch

    1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your arms flat beside you.
    2. Pull your bellybutton in toward the floor.
    3. Keeping the knees bent, raise one foot off the ground so that the lower leg is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds before returning it to the ground.
    4. Repeat on the other leg. This is one repetition.
    5. Perform 10 to 30 repetitions.

    Double Knee to Chest Stretch


    1. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your arms flat beside you.
    2. Pull your bellybutton in toward the floor.
    3. Keeping the knees bent, raise both feet off the ground so that the lower legs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 3 seconds before returning both feet to the ground.
    4. Perform 10 to 30 repetitions.

    Yoga Stretches

    Practicing yoga is a gentle way to build a strong and flexible core. Stretches and poses that target the lower back are a gentle and effective enough for almost any fitness level. Try adding these types of stretches to your routine for strength that adequately supports your back.

    Seated Stretches

    Seated stretches are a safe alternative for older adults or those with impaired mobility. Additionally, office workers can also reduce back pain and improve flexibility by performing these gentle stretches while at their desks. Some of the best seated stretches for the lower back include:

    Seated Cat-Cow Stretch

    1. Sit up straight on a chair, leaving room behind you on the seat.
    2. Breathe in and lean forward.
    3. Breathe out and lean backward, with your arms out in front, your shoulders curled forward, and looking inward toward your bellybutton.
    4. Repeat 3 to 5 times.

    Seated Hamstring Stretch

    1. Sit on the edge of a chair, with your back tall and straight and your feet on the ground. Extend your right leg out in front of you.
    2. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Do not bend your knee. Hold for 30 seconds.
    3. Repeat on the other leg.

    Seated Knee to Chest Stretch

    1. Sit in a chair with your back against the back of the chair.
    2. Gently grasp behind one knee with both hands. Lift your knee toward your chest, as far as you can without causing pain.
    3. Take a deep breath in — you should feel a stretch in your lower back.
    4. As you breathe out, lower your leg to the floor.
    5. Repeat 3 to 5 times on each side.

    Seated Pelvic Tilt

    1. Sit in a chair with your back straight and your shoulders back. Pull in your belly button.
    2. Flatten your back against the chair to tilt your pelvis backward.
    3. Return to the starting position, arching your back slightly.
    4. Repeat 10 times and do 3 sets of 10.

    How Often Should I Stretch?

    To treat or prevent lower back pain, we suggest stretching your hamstrings, lower back muscles, and abdominal muscles on a daily basis. If you are working with a physical therapist, they can recommend a program that is tailored to your needs.

    With daily stretches and other home care remedies, your lower back pain should start to ease within two weeks. Chronic back pain may take even longer. See a doctor if symptoms don’t improve within a few weeks or if they actively get worse during this time.

    Stretches to Avoid

    While stretches are a key component of lower back pain recovery, not all stretches are beneficial. Some exercises, such as toe touches, can exacerbate back pain and delay your recovery.

    General Tips for Stretching to Relieve Lower Back Pain

    To get the most out of your new stretching program, keep the following tips in mind:

    • Set a daily stretching routine and stick to it.
    • Know your limits and take a break when you need to.
    • Never stretch to the point of pain.
    • Adapt stretches to your needs — support yourself against a wall or chair when necessary, or use resistance bands to increase the intensity of stretches.
    • For added benefits, use a back stretching device to extend tight muscles while protecting your spine.
    • Pair stretches with hot and cold therapy — heat is great for loosening up muscles before stretching, while ice can reduce muscle soreness afterward. Learn more about using ice and heat to treat lower back pain below.

      The Importance of Stretching

      Regularly stretching out the muscles and other structures that support the lower back will:

      • Relax tight muscles
      • Boost circulation in order to bring more oxygen and nutrients to the spine
      • Increase flexibility and mobility to reduce stress on the back
      • Strengthen the back and core to prevent further damage
      • Help relieve arthritis and other conditions that affect the spine and lower back

      Start incorporating these stretches into your daily routine and before you exercise to see, and feel, the best results.

      Sources:

      https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/hamstring-muscle-injuries/

      https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/yoga-or-stretching-eases-low-back-pain

      SHOP LOWER BACK PAIN PRODUCTS
      Jessica Hegg
      Jessica Hegg

      Jessica Hegg is the content manager and at ViveHealth.com. With vast product knowledge and understanding of individual needs, she aims to share valuable information on making smart buying choices, overcoming obstacles and overall improving the quality of life for others. Avid gym-rat and nutrition enthusiast, she’s interested in all things related to staying active and living healthy lifestyle.



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