Six Essential Stretches to Reduce Back Pain

1
Partial Crunch - Pelvic Tilt Exercise for Back Pain

Partial Crunch Pelvic Tilt Exercise
Partial Crunch Pelvic Tilt Exercise. Photo (c) Yellow Dog Productions / Getty Images

Low back pain

can have many causes, including tight or weak back, ab or

core muscles

,

muscle sprains or strains

, or a

herniated disc

. This stretching program can help reduce back pain and help prevent back injuries.

How to Do the Partial Crunch - Pelvic Tilt Exercise

The pelvic tilt is generally the first exercise recommended for recovering from back pain and developing spinal stabilization.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles and press the small of your back into the floor.
  • Lift your head and shoulders slightly up off the floor as you reach toward your feet with your fingertips.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Relax and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times.

2
Cat-Cow Stretch for Back Pain

Back Stretch
Back Stretch. Photo (c) Mark Dadswell / Getty Images

This simple stretch, sometimes called the cat-cow stretch, gently stretches the muscles of the low back and helps realign the spine and pelvis. It's particularly helpful to ease the pain of a low back strain. Here's how to do it correctly.

How to Do the Cat-Cow Stretch

  • Begin on your hands and knees.
  • Contract your abdominal muscles. (Try to pull your belly button toward your spine.)
  • Slowly round your back, pushing it up toward the ceiling.
  • Allow your head to drop forward and curl your pelvis under.
  • Hold for 10 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch in your back.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Raise your head up and let your pelvis fall forward as your belly reaches down toward the floor.
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat about 5 to 10 times.

3
Prone Back Extension for Back pain

Prone Back Extension Stretch
Prone Back Extension Stretch. Photo (c) Hamish Blair / Getty Images

The prone back extension is a slightly more advanced and intense back stretch. Here's how to safely perform it.

How to Do the Prone Back Extension

  • Begin in a face-down position on the floor.
  • Slowly lift your torso up; place your elbows under your shoulders and your hands firmly on the ground. Your lower back will be slightly arched.
  • Push into the ground and slowly straighten your elbows to increase the extension in your lower back. Go only as far as comfortable, and stop if you experience any pain. You should feel a comfortable, gentle stretch.
  • Hold the position for 15 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 5 to 8 times.

4
Hip Opener and Lower Back Stretch

Hip Opener and Groin Stretch
Hip Opener and Groin Stretch. Photo © Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

In this photo, Chicago Bears cornerback Devin Hester demonstrates a simple stretching exercise that opens the hips and stretches the lower back. This exercise stretches the muscles of the core, hips, groin and lower back.

How to Do the Hip Opener and Lower Back Stretch

  • Begin in a forward lunge position, and drop your left knee to the ground.
  • Place your right elbow on the inside of your right knee as pictured.
  • Press your right elbow gently into your right knee and twist your torso to the left.
  • Reach your left arm behind you until you feel a gentle stretch in your lower back and right groin.
  • Hold the stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds. Release and repeat on the other leg.

You can modify this stretch based upon your own anatomy, flexibility and limitations. Be sure to keep your forward knee over or behind your ankle, not in front of it.

5
Spinal Twist Stretch for Back Pain

Spinal Twist Back Stretch
Spinal Twist Back Stretch. ballyscanlon

The spinal twist stretch should be done carefully and slowly. In order to avoid overstretching, never force your knees to the ground. Allow your knees to fall only as far as comfortable. Over time you will naturally increase your range of motion in this stretch. Here's how to safely perform the spinal twist stretch.

How to Do the Spinal Twist Stretch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly let your knees fall toward the floor until a gentle stretch is felt in your spine.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and return to the starting position.
  • Next, allow your knees to slowly fall to the other side until a gentle stretch is felt.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat several times on each side.

6
Knees to Chest Stretch for Back Pain

Knee to Chest Back Stretch
Knee to Chest Back Stretch. ballyscanlon

Bringing both knees into the chest is a simple way to release tension in the back and gently stretch the hamstrings. This simple spinal flexion movement is a great way to end a back stretching routine or workout.

How to Do the Knees to Chest Back Flexion Stretch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Slowly bring your knees toward your chest and gently grasp your legs just below the kneecap.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds and return to the starting position.
  • Rest a few seconds and repeat the stretch several times.

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