Back Stretches

| July 18, 2013 | Reply

Back stretches have been developed by fitness trainers, physiotherapists and medical specialists mainly in order to alleviate back pain (more information can be found here) a common issue that affects most people at some point in their life. Back pain is usually attributed to the stiffness of the upper and lower back muscles, that is in turn caused by poor sitting or standing posture, careless lifting of heavy items and generally by daily activities, and of course aging; over the years, and if not treated, that pain becomes more intense and can increase the risk of a more serious back injury.

Back Muscles

Back Muscles

The Area

The back area consists of a sizeable and complex group of muscles and ligaments whose role is to hold the core in an upright position, support the spine and enable the upper part of the body to perform basic moves (twisting, bending) in many directions. When that system is harassed by an injury, a strain, a sprain etc., inflammation and back spasm occur, ultimately bringing about serious back pain and difficulty in performing ordinary but essential daily moves. Click the pic on the left for more information on the muscles of the back

Back Stretching Exercises

Before describing how to perform a few effective back stretches we need to underline that before you try anything you should first check our stretching guide!

  • A classic active/static stretching for the upper back muscles involves standing upright and raising your arms in such a way that your palms face each other and your upper arms are in line with your ears; now, lower your arms while twisting your palms in order for them to face the floor; as your arms approach the level of your shoulders, you will feel a gentle stretch; stop and hold it there (photo 1).
  • Moving down, it’s time to stretch your lower back; a very popular exercise of this type is the “cat stretch” (photo 2); to perform it, assume a position facing the floor, on your hands (placed just below your shoulders) and knees (placed just below your hips); now, drop your stomach towards the floor, gently lifting your shoulders, face and hips up; hold it for some seconds and then return to the initial position to do the opposite, that is to curve your back towards the ceiling, now by dropping your head and pelvis, and holding it; for every of these phases, make sure you maintain your legs and arms in a straight and firm position. This is another exceptional active/static back stretch!
  • Seated forward bend is another example (photo 3) of active/static stretching that does work; assume a seated position on the floor, keeping your spine straight and putting your hands, relaxed, on the floor, next to your hips; your feet should be relatively split, with your toes facing the ceiling; now, gently fold forward without lifting your buttocks and without curving your spine, providing support with your hands, still keeping them relaxed; reach a point that you actually sense the stretch and hold it there. The previous stretch can be also applied by means of a partner (passive stretching)
  • Several other back stretching exercises are available; for the lower back, they include the seated torso twist (photo 4), back extension lying in prone position (photo 5) or the pelvic tilt; upper back stretches contain the eagle arms (actually originating from yoga) or the butterfly wings (more or less, the equivalent of the cat stretch for the upper back) etc.

Hold the stretches for 20 to 30 seconds, while properly inhaling and exhaling; also, try to perform at least 5-10 repetitions for each stretch; stick to a program of similar exercises for 2-4 times a week so as to adequately treat the stiffness of your back muscles. Don’t forget that you can also apply dynamic variations of the previously mentioned static stretches! For a better understanding of the previously described stretches you should have a look at our Photos & Videos Paragraph!

->Update 22/01: Find how to Relieve Back Pain 4 Life<-


Apart from the general benefits of stretching (more info here), frequent upper and lower back stretching aids in:

  • Loosening your muscles, making them less prone to tears
  • Alleviating or preventing from back problems, injuries, stiffness and discomfort
  • Increasing the blood flow to the area, which further relieves pain and contributes to injury healing and prevention
  • Achieving enhanced mobility and suppleness of the back area, which is literally a motion-providing factor for your whole body!

What To Consider

backpaintipsFirst of all, all those back pain stretches should be executed carefully to avoid an unwanted trauma. But even more fundamentally, it is crucial to discuss the subject with your doctor if you have had a back injury in the past, because stretching in that case could further worsen your back condition; yet, even if you haven’t encountered severe issues, it is anyway recommended to consult a physiotherapist or doctor before attempting to stretch your back, in order to ensure you are doing the right thing. You should certainly never forget our general Stretching Guide

Other points that you should constantly keep in mind:

  • Choose flat and spacious surfaces to execute your stretches
  • Carry out each exercise until a tender stretch (and not pain) is sensed
  • Avoid jerky movements, which could result in muscle tearing
  • Don’t forget to breathe normally

Photos & Videos

In the following paragraph, we are publishing a few photos and a couple of videos, in order for you to better understand the back stretching options:

upper back stretch

Photo 1 – Upper Back Muscles Stretch

Cat Stretch

Photo 2 – Cat Stretch

seated forward bend

Photo 3 – Seated Forward Bend


seated torso twist

Photo 4 – Seated Torso Twist

Back Extension Lying in Prone Position

Photo 5 – Back Extension Lying in Prone Position

Our Opinion

Back stretches are absolutely vital for relieving muscle tension that is mostly responsible for the tormenting back pain; therefore, almost everyone can be benefited from stretching the muscles, ligaments and tendons of that area, so as to allow them and the spinal column to perform their designated task without limitations, overcoming painful situations, getting back pain relief and effectively repelling the maturing process.

Update 22/01/14: We’ve just discovered an interesting ebook with the brand name “Back Pain Relief 4 Life” that promises to alleviate back pain in 17 minutes. Though it sounds crazy we have to admit we are fans of it because it just provides a holistic treatment of back pain (of course including a stretching routine). You have nothing to lose to give it a go and we think you will love it! And while this “17′ minutes” claim is probably a marketing trick, the core of the program described there is absolutely efficient! It’s also important that Back Pain Relief 4 Life is featured in CBS, FOX News, OK, Men’s Health etc. Click here to give it a go!




Category: Stretching specific Body Areas

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