Early Morning Back Stretches

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Early Morning Back Stretch for Your Low Back

Knees to chest stretch
Knees to chest stretch. PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou/Alto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images

What to do About Early Morning Back Pain

If you sleep in a curled up position, chances are when you wake, your spine feels compressed. The images in this gallery will show you a few useful morning back stretches to help get your day going - sans pain.

A knees to chest stretch is a good way to start the day.

The knees to chest stretch is a way to stretch your spine when you first wake up.  Lying on your back, bring one knee (bent) up towards your chest and then the other.  Grasp your lower legs below your knee and pull your legs in towards your chest. 

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Early Morning Back Stretches in the Prone Position

Stomach lying can help to eliminate morning back stiffness.
Stomach lying can help to eliminate morning back stiffness. (c) Anne Asher 2007

One way to circumvent back pain that starts in the early morning is to spend time lying on your stomach.

Taking a moment first thing in the morning to lie on your stomach may help to stretch your back and decompress discs. Here's how:

Place a flat pillow or towel under your chest; this may allow your head and neck to relax down toward the bed. You could also turn your head to the side. If you need support for your low back, place a pillow under your abdomen.
 

Source:
Hage, M. (2005). The Back Pain Book. Atlanta, Ga. Peachtree Publishers.

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Early Morning Back Stretches - Lengthen Your Spine

Decompress your spine first thing in the morning by lengthening and stretching your back.
(c) Anne Asher 2007

After a few moments of lying on your stomach with a pillow under you, place your arms by your side, and rest your forehead on the pillow or mattress (whichever is more comfortable.)

Try to elongate your spine while in this position.  Elongating your spine can be accomplished by thinking about moving your ribs away from your pelvis.  Try stretching those structural units in opposite directions for a few seconds.  Then rest for a few seconds and try it again.
 

Source:
Hage, M. (2005). The Back Pain Book. Atlanta, Ga. Peachtree Publishers.

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Early Morning Back Stretches - Spine Lengthener Variation

Lengthening Your Spine Before You Get Out of Bed is a Good Way to Minimize Back Pain and Stiffness.
(c) Anne Asher

Vary the spine lengthening by turning your head to one side (and then the other.)

 

Source:
Hage, M. (2005). The Back Pain Book. Atlanta, Ga. Peachtree Publishers.

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Back Pain and Sleep - Early Morning Back Exercises - Back Extension

This back extension movement can be done gently to wake the spine up from a night of compression.
This back extension movement can be done gently to wake the spine up from a night of compression. (c) Anne Asher 2007

Here's an early morning back exercise - taken from the yoga cobra pose - that may help improve symptoms related to disc problems.

Similar to the yoga Cobra pose, this gentle back extension exercise lengthens the spine and helps to counter an excessive curvature condition of the upper back known as kyphosis.  It's also a position in which many people who experience disc issues find relief.

That said, this back extension position is likely not a good idea if you have facet joint problems, spondylolysis, spinal arthritis, spinals stenosis and similar conditions, as it tends to irritate the already compromised areas.

While lying on your stomach, place your forearms on the bed.  Keep your elbows bent and directly under your shoulders.  Relax your shoulders as best you can.  Then, simply press up a short ways.  Keep the movement in a pain-free zone - don't go so far as to feel a "kink" in your low back.  Stay up there for a few seconds and then gently come down and rest.  Repeat up to 3 times.

Source:
Hage, M. (2005). The Back Pain Book. Atlanta, Ga. Peachtree Publishers.

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Early Morning Back Stretches - Involve Your Arms in the Spine Stretch

Back and arm extension can help decompress the spine after a night's sleep.
Back and arm extension can help decompress the spine after a night's sleep. (c) Anne Asher 2007

Next turn over onto your back. You'll still be lengthening your spine but this time, your arms and shoulders will help you.  Move your arms out until they make a "V" shape.  Reach with your arms and feel the stretch.  Relax.

Try this again, adding back the pulling action from your pelvis.  This will likely accentuate the spinal stretch even more.  In this version, your arms and - by way of connection - your ribs, will stretch move in opposition to your pelvis - a great way to accentuate the stretch in your waist and back.. 

Variations that Use Props

Your might consider placing a small pillow or rolled towel under your low back for support. If your shoulder or arm muscles are tight, or if your shoulder range of motion is limited, you can pillow those areas up, as well.  Just be sure to keep the resulting position comfortable. (See the above image.)

You can also modify the position by placing big pillows under your knees, such that that your knees and hips are supported in a flexed position. Another variation is to lie on the floor, bend your knees, and place your legs on an ottoman for support.

Source:
Hage, M. (2005). The Back Pain Book. Atlanta, Ga. Peachtree Publishers.

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