The Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain

If you aren’t sure if yoga is right for you but you still want to find the best stretches for lower back pain, this is where you should start. If you take away all of the fancy poses and breathing that is done during your yoga practice, you are left with yourself standing or sitting on your mat, stretching.  You can practice for hours and not do any more than a few different stretches for your body.

What Are The Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain?


When it comes to finding the best stretches for lower back pain you really have to consider all of the other body parts that need to be loose in order for your back to get the relief it needs. I have compiled a list below of some of my favorites that I have encountered along the way.

The Standing Side Stretch 

stretches-for-lower-back-pain

Start out standing up with your feet hip distance apart, arms straight over your head stretching upwards, and palms facing towards one another.

Next, grab your left wrist with your right hand and slowly begin pull your body so it leans towards the right. Be sure to keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and your gaze slightly looking up at a comfortable angle.

After feeling a significant stretch in the muscle that runs down the left side of your back, straighten your arms back up to the sky and begin to pull your right wrist with your left hand and gently lean toward the left.

I like to do this a few times back and forth with my breath allowing my back and spine to work out all the pops

The Interlaced Backward to Forward Bend Stretch

Forward FoldFrom standing side stretch take your hands and interlace them behind your back, straightening your arms.  If you are unable to interlace your hands, try using a towel or a rope as for assistance.

Once you have your hands are interlaced behind your back, begin to straighten your arms to the ground and towards the back wall while slowly leaning back and gazing upwards.  As you feel an adequate stretch, begin to lean forward at the hips while releasing your hands to the ground.

While leaning forward you might need to bend your knees a little bit but what you are trying to do is stretch your hamstrings out which are crucial in relieving your back pain.

The Twisting Seated Back Stretch

Seated TwistWhile in a seated position with a straight back, cross your left leg over your right leg placing your foot next to your thigh and begin to tuck your right leg in towards your center.

Place your right hand on the outside of your left knee and slowly begin to twist your body to the right. Hold for about 30 seconds, going deeper into the stretch with each exhale, and then switch sides.

The Lying Down Hip Stretch

Lying on your back, bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground.  Take your left leg and cross it over your right leg so your ankle rests right below your knee on your upper leg.

Stay here if you feel the stretch in your lower right side of your back into your hip or slowly start to push your left knee away from your body with your left hand.  Once you feel a good stretch, release and do the other side.

The Knee to Chest to Supine Twist Stretch

Lying Down TwistLying on your back, stretch your left leg straight onto the floor and grab your right leg, however feels comfortable, with both hands and pull your knee towards your left shoulder.

Hold this position for a few seconds and then take your right hand and place it on the outside of your left knee.  Gently begin to pull your leg across your body so you are resting with your knee moving towards the ground on the right side of your body.

Turn your head over your left shoulder, straighten your left arm out to the side, and begin to move your left shoulder so it rests on the ground.  Once your body is ready, release and do the other side.

Cobra PoseThe Cobra to Upward Dog Stretch

Start on your stomach with your legs together behind you and your forearms resting at a 90 degree angle against your sides.

Slowly begin to tighten your lower back while lifting your chest off of the ground.  You can either keep your hands lightly touching the ground or life them a couple of inches up.

If this feels good then stay here, otherwise you can move to upward dog by placing your arms under your shoulders and begin to straighten them as you arch your back.

The Safety Stretch (Child’s Pose)

Child's Pose

The best stretches for lower back pain.

Starting on your hands and knees with your knees slightly spread and your big toes touching behind you , begin to slowly bring your butt to touch in between your heels.

You can now either rest your arms on the mat in front of you or down by your sides.  If you would like a deeper stretch for your lower back begin to straight your arms out in front of you while only your hands are touching the mat.  Reach as far forward as possible while pushing your pelvis and lower back down towards the floor.

Always Go At Your Own Pace


Your body will probably be making sounds that you’ve never heard or felt before such as popping in your back, shoulders, chest, or any other body part that is really tight and that is okay!  The way your body releases tension will evolve over time and what once caused you discomfort will eventually feel loose.

However, please make sure not to push yourself too hard too soon.  Most of the time popping feels great and relieves a lot of tension but if you feel like your body isn’t ready to move a certain way, listen to it and ease back.

Don’t worry if you aren’t able to go all the way into these stretches, just go until you feel a stretch and then hold it for a few breaths. Your back pain isn’t going away overnight so take your time. It took a year of consistent yoga classes in order for me to start to finally feel relief in my lower back after 15 years of chronic pain.

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What is your go to stretch for lower back pain?

Stick With It!

-Nate

comments

8 Comments

  1. Maria

    Hi Nathan,

    That knee to chest supine twist stretch and child’s pose are really my favorite stretches in yoga class! I like how you explained each pose and gave tips on enhancing them. I have this bookmarked now, thanks!

    I look forward to any future articles on upper back stretches and shoulder stuff too. That’s always my hard areas due to sitting a lot and stress.

    Maria

    Reply
    1. Nathan

      Hi Maria,

      Those two stretches really are great! Child’s pose can seem so simple but have a huge impact on your body. I’ll be sure to include posts in the future for upper back stretches too!

      Nathan

      Reply
  2. roamy

    Hello there
    l used to be a very active person but recently back pain is stopping me doing things l enjoyed doing.
    Then l realized maybe it`s a bad posture or not stretching my back enough or the right way.
    After reading and studying your images,will try and follow your tips to stretch my back and see if it gets better.
    Most of the stretches you have shown look difficult, im not 20 years old lol but the side stretch and the child`s pose seem safe enough.
    Thanks so much.

    Reply
    1. Nathan

      Hello! It’s amazing how fast your body can lose its elasticity as we get older if you aren’t able to keep it stretched out regularly but after a week or two of doing these stretches for 5 to 10 minutes you will start to feel much looser.

      Some of the stretches can be difficult when you are first starting out because you are putting your body in positions that aren’t familiar to it at all. If you are only able to stay in the stretch for a few seconds or you aren’t able to get into it comfortably at all, just keep doing it and your body will start to listen and loosen up.

      Good Luck!

      Reply
  3. EllieCommunicates

    Thank you for your post.
    Some days after running after a couple of small children my back hurts a lot and I really need to try some of the stretches you propose.
    I am not very flexible and I am worried that I might not be able to do some of these stretches.
    Maybe I need to try first those I think would be easier for me to do.
    How many repetitions should one do for best effect?

    Reply
    1. Nathan

      Hello, and you’re welcome! We put a beating on our backs every day and don’t always give it the care that it needs which is why it starts to fight back and cause us pain. Don’t worry about how flexible or not flexible you are – you don’t have to form into a pretzel on your first try! As long as you are able to feel a stretch in your body, that is good place to hang out. Over time you will start to notice that you can go further and further into the stretches. There is no right answer to how long you should hold these stretches, just do what feels good for you and don’t sweat it if you can’t stretch too far at first.

      Stick with it!

      Nathan

      Reply
  4. Amanda

    The twisting seated back stretch and lying down hip stretch are a part of my daily yoga routine, but for a whole different reason. I have arthritis in my hip and this really helps stretch them out and prevent attacks. I never really thought about it but I haven’t had any back pain since I added those to my morning asana. This means a lot since I sit at a desk all day and used to have trouble sleeping because of back pains. Yeah, and Arthur Boorman is kinda my hero. He rocks!

    Reply
    1. Nathan

      Hi Amanda, thanks for the comment!

      What I’ve realized about Yoga and the poses and stretches is that just one stretch can help so many different parts of your body, and they’re so simple! I’m so glad that you haven’t had any back pain after starting to do Yoga in the mornings. It really is amazing how when the pain is gone we don’t even realize it because it’s how we are supposed to naturally feel!

      And yes, Arthur Boorman is an inspiration to us all! 🙂

      Stick with it!

      Nathan

      Reply

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