hen experiencing lower back pain, the natural remedy that most people opt for is rest. Well, even though you may not feel like moving a sore or painful back, mobilizing the lower back is actually beneficial.
Stretching exercises for the lower back help to alleviate pain by releasing tension in tight muscles, and some stretches will also strengthen the lower back and other supporting muscles.
With a stronger back, you will be less likely to experience pain, and with that in mind, here are 4 stretches to help lower back pain.
#1: Cobra Stretch
Cobras are known for achieving a menacing pose by expanding their hoods when threatened. You don’t need a hood—or a threat—to strike a cobra pose. Just expand your chest.
The cobra stretch helps stretch tight abdominal muscles and decreases stiffness in the lower back. It will reduce pain that originates from the spinal column due to poor posture or ailments like osteoporosis and slipped discs.
- Start by lying down on a mat face first.
- Use the elbows to prop yourself up with palms facing down and forearms parallel to the floor.
- Arch your back up by pushing down on your hands. Raise yourself as far as you feel comfortable. Avoid bending the neck backward by keeping your head aligned with the spine.
- Hold this pose for 5-10 seconds while taking deep breaths. If you are more advanced, breathe slowly for 5 to 20 breaths.
- Release the pose by lowering your stomach toward the floor. Aim for 8-10 reps while taking a brief pause in between.
Tip: Always keep your elbows tucked close to your sides, and keep them slightly bent to prevent tensing up your shoulders.
Cobra Stretch Video Demonstration
Here’s a short video demonstration on how to do the Cobra Pose with proper form from HowCast:
#2: Cat-Cow Stretch
The Cat-Cow Pose is a fantastic stretching exercise for strengthening and releasing tension in the spine. Beautiful to do in the beginning of your practice because it opens up the spine as it starts to move like fluidity through the spine.
This stretch extends into your mid and upper back as well. Here is how to perform the cat-cow stretch:
- Get down on all fours. Spread knees about shoulder width apart and keep both palms planted flat on the floor. Look straight ahead and do not arch your spine. This will be your starting position.
- Arch your back downwards by lifting the chin to tilt the head back, pushing the navel toward the ground and raising your tailbone.
- Take five deep breaths and return to the starting position.
- For the next stretch, arch your back upward by lifting the spine toward the ceiling, tucking in your chin and lowering the tail bone.
- Take five deep breaths while maintaining the rounded back then get back into the neutral position. Aim for 10 repetitions alternating the arch on your back.
Cat Cow Stretch Video Demonstration
Here’s a short Cat Cow stretch video tutorial from Yoga Instructor Chelsey Korus on Howcast, where she demonstrates how to do the Cat Cow Pose for Energy:
#3: Two-Knee Spinal Twist
This yoga pose encourages mobility throughout the spine and entire back. When done right, the two-knee spinal twist stretch will alleviate pain and stiffness in the lower back, spine and hips.
- Begin by lying flat on your back. Stretch both arms at shoulder level to form a T-shape with the trunk and bring the knees up while keeping feet flat on the floor.
- Exhale slowly and lower your knees to the ground on the right side. Keep both shoulders pressing down firmly and hold this position for 1-2 minutes.
- Repeat the stretch but this time, twisting the knees to the left side.
Two-Knee Spinal Twist Stretch Video Demonstration
Here’s a short video demonstration from Time Out New York on the Two-Knee Spinal Twist Stretch by Leanne Wong, certified Yoga instructor and yoga therapist:
#4: Supine Hamstring Stretch
When the hamstrings are not functioning properly, your lower back takes the brunt of supporting the body’s weight. To prevent worsening lower back pain, ensure that your hamstrings are flexible and devoid of tension. Perform supine hamstring stretches to achieve this goal.
- Lie down on your back with both feet stretched out and toes point up.
- Bend your left leg towards the chest and wrap a towel or strap around the heel. Holding the strap or towel with both hands, straighten the left leg toward the ceiling.
- Hold the stretch for 1-2 minutes then switch to stretch the right hamstring.
Supine Hamstring Stretch Video Demonstration
Here’s a short video of ExpertVillage by Carol Ann where she demonstrates how to do the Supine Hamstring Stretch:
Depending on the cause and intensity of back pain, some exercises might not be safe and will only cause more harm. Therefore, it is prudent to consult your healthcare provider before attempting any stretching exercise for lower back pain, especially if you have a spinal condition or injury.