Back Pain Stretches

| August 15, 2013 | 1 Reply

Back pain is a common health issue that affects a massive percentage of people at some point of their life (most frequently, it impinges on ages between 35 and 50). Being consistent or sporadic, and sourced from muscles, nerves, bones, joints or other structures, it can be felt in several forms, thus making life and ordinary moves troublesome or even impossible for some individuals.


Although a huge number of reasons can be responsible for back pain, a common obstacle in preventing it from finding a proper remedy is that this pain has a tendency to develop without a particular cause. That being said, here are some of the most prevalent back pain causes:

  • Previous injuries
  • Bad posture during sitting or standing
  • Poor sleeping position
  • Heavy lifting/demanding physical work
  • An abrupt and clumsy movement
  • Excess fat/obesity
  • Intervertebral disk degeneration (disintegration of the disks located between the vertebrae of the spinal column/herniated disks – detailed article on this can be found here)
  • Muscle or ligament strain
  • Osteoarthritis/spinal stenosis (narrowing of the area around the spinal cord)
  • Pregnancy in women with subsequent weight gain and change in the center of gravity


In line with the often obscure reasons, back pain symptoms are not only multiple and quite different in their nature, but they can also settle down on their own within a few days or weeks after their appearance; still, things are serious if the signs continue for a prolonged period of time:

  • Sudden or continuous onsets of pain in the area or even in other body parts (as it is common for the inconvenience to expand to the upper or lower extremities)
  • Tingling or stabbing sensation
  • Numbness
  • Limited flexibility in the back area
  • Difficulty in standing up straight, walking or sitting down properly
  • Inflammation on the back
  • Spasms felt in the muscles near the spine

Back Pain Stretching Exercises

The aim of the following stretching exercises, as well as of those described in our article on back stretches, is to better the extension of muscles and ligaments of the area, increasing their range of motion and limiting back stiffness. So:

Some good lower back pain exercises are:

  • static/active stretch ; assume a seated position on the floor, with your back straight and your knees bent together; now open your legs so as your soles touch one another and your outer sides of your knees approach the floor; now, lean forward and use your elbows to provide an extra push to your legs; when you feel a stretch at your low back, hold it there for some seconds (photo 1). You can also utilize a passive version of this stretch (photo 2)
  • An interesting yoga stretch (“pigeon”, photo 3), which requires some hip flexibility; sit on the floor with your left knee bent and the right leg fully extended behind your body; now, slightly move your left foot away from you, trying not to curb forward and also not to let your right hip move up; place both hands on your waist so as your torso rests over your left knee and a stretch is felt; switch sides and repeat.

Focusing on the middle back pain:

  • A simple static/active stretch known as knee-to-chest stretch; just lie on the floor and lift your knees towards your chest, using your elbows to hold your knees in place (photo 4) ; the moment you feel the pull, hold it there for some seconds.
  • Also, the torso twist (active/static stretch); stand with your hands on your hips, your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent, facing forward; now, without moving your feet and hips, gently twist your torso to the left; you will feel a slight stretch on the area; hold it there, relax and repeat with the other side. You can also apply a dynamic version of the specific stretch.
  • A dynamic one; lie on the floor with your stomach with your legs extended and lift one leg at a time, for 20 repetitions.

For the upper back pain:

  • A nice yoga stretch, the “eagle arms” (photo 5); assume a seated position with your back straight and your legs crossed; extend your arms in front of your chest and and cross your left bicep over your right bicep; bend both your elbows in order for the left elbow to be positioned inside the right one; now, slowly twist your right forearm around your left forearm and grab your left palm with the right one’s fingers; it kind of tricky, but once you manage it, you will be rewarded by a nice stretch, which you hold before repeating it for the other side.

Finally, a static/active stretch for back pain during pregnancy:

  • Assume a position on the floor with your hands and knees supporting you; your legs should be slightly apart and your hands just in front of your chest; now, slowly, move backwards, sitting back on your knees while extending your arms forward, and you will feel a fine stretch along your spinal column.

Hold for 20-30 seconds, and perform 5-10 repetitions for each static stretch. As always you can apply passive versions of the active stretches, dynamic versions of static stretches and the opposite, as well as AIS, Isometric or PNF versions of the aforementioned stretches.

Photos & Videos

The photos and the video below will help you better understand how to perform the previously described stretches:

active back pain stretch

Photo 1 – Active back pain stretch

passive back pain stretch

Photo 2 – Passive back pain stretch

pigeon yoga stretching

Photo 3 – Pigeon yoga stretching

Knee to Chest Stretch

Photo 4 – Knee to Chest Stretch

yoga eagle arms stretching

Photo 5 – Eagle arms stretch



Other Back Pain Treatment Options

Except for stretches, you may consider following a number of other back pain treatments, like chiropractic care, acupuncture, various types of injections, or simpler methods, like just trying to maintain a good posture when standing, sitting or sleeping. Also, since the reason for the pain is often not detected in the back muscles but in tightened hamstrings or glutes (which cannot properly support the spine, thusly forcing the back muscles to take up the excess load), focusing on their reinforcement can greatly alleviate the discomfort. In any case, you should always remember that surgical approaches are considered as the last resort.

Our Advice

Being vague in terms of causes and symptoms, back pain can be a huge trouble which can even lead even to incapacity. Hence, apart from the back pain treatment options or precautionary measures mentioned above, which you must necessarily go over with your doctor, a simple stretching routine – similarly properly discussed with a physiotherapist – can render substantial back pain relief, advancing your body mechanics and mitigating the discomfort.



Category: Stretches and Diseases

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