If you’re one of the millions of people who suffer from lower back pain, you may feel a sense of hopelessness as you seek viable treatment options. To ease the pain, there are some things you can do safely at home, including stretching. Harvard Health specifically calls out stretching as a good way to both heal and prevent back pain as you decide on a course of action for treatment. Here are a few lower back pain stretches you can do to get started.
For each of these stretches, do two reps of four on each side of the body each day. When you reach the furthest extension you can comfortably reach (without overextending), hold the position for 5 or 10 seconds. We recommend investing in a yoga mat to create a nice, comfortable place to do your daily exercises.
Lying on the Back
1. Pelvic Tilts – One great way to loosen up the back muscles is to do a few exercises lying on the floor, preferably on your yoga mat, such as a pelvic tilt. To perform this exercise, lie on your mat with your legs propped up and your feet placed flat on the ground. Push your butt forward, rotating the hips out.
2. Knee to Chest – Surprisingly, the experts say you should stretch the entire body—especially the back, core, and legs—to provide a solid scaffold for the rest of your body. Stabilizing the back via the core helps prevent injury and poor posture. Lying flat on your back, draw the opposite knee upward into your chest and hold for at least five seconds. This will provide a nice stretch of the hips and low back. If you have enough cushion beneath you, create a little movement by rolling side to side and enjoy a gentle low back massage as you stretch.
3. Legs Up on Wall – Gravity can do wonders when you’re stretching at home, and the wall is a simple way to take advantage of it. Lying flat on your back with your butt flat against the wall, crawl your legs upward and allow them to rest on the wall. If your lower back muscles are sensitive or tender to the touch, we recommend lying on a folded towel or blanket for extra support and cushion.
4. Trunk Rotations – If you find that your back pain prevents you from rolling or rotating, this is a great stretch to loosen things up. To do it, lie with your back on the ground, knees facing up and your hands behind your head with your elbows on the floor. With your knees together, allow the legs to rotate toward the ground to one side. This stretch really targets tight low- and mid-back muscles.
Knees and Hands on the Mat
5. Cat-Cows – This yoga basic is the perfect full-back stretch for those who carry stress, tension, and pain in the lower back and shoulders. To do it, kneel on your mat on all fours with your hands and knees placed hip-distance apart. On the cat movement, arch your back upward (like a frightened cat). For the cow movement, drop the belly low to the ground and lift the back, neck, and shoulders straight up to the sky, enjoying a full stretch through the neck.
6. Up and Under Stretches – While you’re still in the cat-cow position, take one arm and reach it up and outward at a 45-degree angle. In one movement, lower your arm across the chest and under your body, reaching it straight down past the knee. This will help you stretch the lower back while boosting balance and mobility, making it a great all-around exercise to add to your routine.
Sitting on the Mat
7. Hamstring Stretches – Strengthening and stretching the leg muscles can help support the spine and the rest of your body to address and prevent pain. Classic hamstring stretches—sitting on the floor with one foot bent into the straightened other leg at the knee and bending forward gently—can stretch the lower back muscles and ease pain. When the hamstrings are tight, they pull down on the pelvis and cause a curved spine, leading to poor posture and pain.
8. Shoulder Blade Squeezes – Shoulder blade squeezes can help stabilize the entire back while also releasing tension in the shoulders and upper back muscles. To perform this exercise, sit with your back straight and head facing up. With your hands in a fist at your sides, move them backward toward your back pocket. Keep your shoulders down, resisting the urge to scrunch them at your ears.
Stretching with Laser Therapy
Stretches are an excellent complement to low-level laser therapy for lower back pain. If you experience chronic pain in the lower back, don’t underestimate the power of laser therapy. This pain-free, drug-free option provides direct, temporary relief from lower back pain associated with aches, muscle spasms, and inflammation.