Lower Back Stretches

Lower Back Stretches

Woman Doing Yoga
Nancy Honey/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Day to day activities such as prolonged sitting or lifting heavy items often result in tight back muscles. Over time this can cause significant back pain and increase your risk for back injury. Stretching tight back muscles may be one way to help alleviate your back tightness and improve your overall mobility with your spine.

In this article, you will learn exercises to stretch the lower muscles of your back in a quick and effective way. Performing these stretches may help prevent back pain or assist in reducing present back aches that you may have.

Look below and click the links to review these lower back stretching exercises. Before starting these, or any other exercises to stretch your back, check in with your doctor or physical therpaist to be sure exercises are safe for your specific condition

Back Extension - Prone

Prone Back Extension. Picture by Dr. Laura Inverarity

The prone press up, or lumbar extension, exercise is a great way to stretch your back. The exercises helps to restore the normal forward curve in your lumbar spine, called a lordosis. The press up is the main exercise in the McKenzie Method, as many people with back pain benefit from performing this stretch. Here is how you do it:

  1. Lie on your stomach.
  2. Prop yourself up on your elbows extending your back.
  3. Start straightening your elbows, further extending your back.
  4. Continue straightening your elbows until a gentle stretch is felt.
  5. Hold for 3 seconds.
  6. Return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat 9 more times.

Rememeber to stop if you feel worsening pain with this exercise.

Cat Stretch

Cat Stretch. Picture by Dr. Laura Inverarity

The cat stretch helps to gently and effectivley stretch your low back into flexion. Here is how you do it:

  1. Get down on the floor on your hands and knees.
  2. Push your back up towards the ceiling (like a cat arching its back).
  3. Continue arching until you feel a gentle stretch in your back.
  4. Hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat 9 more times.

You can mix the cat stretch with the camel stretch; simply allow your back to sag in the middle after each stretch (the camel position). Hold this sag for a few seconds, and then return up to the cat stretch.

The Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic Tilt. Picture by Dr. Laura Inverarity

The pelvic tilt uses your abdominal and hip muscles to gently flex your lumabr spine. It is often used as the main exercise in a core sterngthening program.

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Exhale and press the small of your back against the floor.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 9 more times.

Lower back tightness is a common problem, and it can be improved with some simple stretches that your physical therapist can show you. Lumbar stretching exercises, combined with postural correction and regular physical activity, can help keep your back moving and feeling well. Check in with your doctor if you have back pain, and then visit your PT to learn the best stretches for your specific condition.

Edited by Brett Sears, PT.

Continue Reading