Almost everyone can benefit from stretching the soft tissues – the muscles, ligaments and tendons – in the back, legs, buttock, and around the spine.
The spinal column and its contiguous muscles, ligaments, and tendons are all designed to move, and limitations in this motion can make back pain worse.
Patients with ongoing back pain may find it takes weeks or months of stretching and other back exercises to mobilize the spine and soft tissues, but will find that meaningful and sustained relief of back pain will usually follow the increase in motion.
General Tips for Stretching to Relieve Back Pain
- Wear comfortable clothes that won’t prohibit movement
- Stretching should be pain free; do not force the body into difficult positions
- Move into the stretch slowly and avoid bouncing, which may actually tear muscles
- Hold stretches long enough (minimum of 30 seconds) to allow muscles or joints to become loose
- Repeat the stretch, generally 5-10 times
If one already has low back pain, it is best to check with your chiropractor to discuss whether the following lower back pain stretches should be done.
Four Stretches to Ease Lower Back Pain
Sore in your lower back? The source may be another muscle group altogether. For example, your lower back pain isn’t necessarily from forgetting to stretch that back — the culprit could be tight hip flexors. Everything’s connected. Stretch one area, and another might benefit, too.
Knee to Chest Stretch
While lying on the back with the knees bent and both heels on the floor, place both hands behind one knee and bring it to the chest.
The hips and buttocks (where the gluteus muscles are) support the lower back, and stretching these muscle groups plays a pivotal role in maintaining spine flexibility.
While standing with feet shoulder-width apart, take a half-step back with the right foot, bend the left knee and shift weight back to the right hip. While keeping the right leg straight, bend forward more and reach down the right leg until a stretch in the outer hip is felt.
Piriformis Muscle Stretch
The piriformis muscle runs through the buttock and can contribute to back pain or leg pain. To stretch the this muscle, lie on the back and cross one leg over the other and gently pull the other knee toward the chest until a stretch is felt in the buttock area.
The hamstrings run through the back of each thigh. Tightness in this muscle limits motion in the pelvis which can increase stress across the low back and corrupt correct posture. Stretching the hamstrings can gradually lengthen them and reduce the stress felt in the lower back.
Warning: If the stretches are painful consult your doctor; there are certain stretches that are helpful when you’re aggressive and / or they are painful.