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Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain

In the past, doctors prescribed bed rest for back pain. We know now that this may do more harm than good. In fact, inactivity and lying still from bed rest can actually slow the healing process and make your muscles tighter and weaker. Since bed rest can make your back pain worse and lead to other complications, what can one do to slowly start moving again?

The answer is stretching. Gentle stretching is an effective way to relieve lower back pain. Talk with your healthcare provider before starting a stretching regimen and take it slow, stopping if it hurts. Incorporating stretching into your daily routine is ideal, so let’s start with something short and manageable.

Here are four small stretches that can make a big difference for low back pain:

Cat-cow stretch

Why it helps

This stretch promotes flexion and extension of the spine and helps to relieve tension in the lower back.

Photo: Advanced Pain Management


Start this move on your hands and knees, slowly alternating between arching your back toward the ceiling and dipping it toward the floor. 

Hold each position for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. 

Single knee-to-chest stretch

Why it helps

This stretch will hit the hamstrings, lower back, and the gluteus and piriformis muscles in the buttock. 

Photo: Advanced Pain Management


Pull your knee toward your chest and keep your tailbone flat on the floor.

Hold the stretched position for 30-60 seconds and then alternate sides. Repeat 2-3 times.

Double knees-to-chest stretch

Why it helps

This stretch is the logical next step after the single knee-to-chest stretch and can relieve pain and tightness across the mid and low back.

Photo: Harvard Health


While lying on your back with both knees bent, pull both knees to your chest. 

Hold the stretched position for 30-60 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.

Child’s pose

Why it helps

This stretch helps to neutralize overextension of the lumbar spine and can help you relax your body. It encourages joint mobility and is great for reducing spinal stiffness.

Photo: Medical News Today


Tucking your legs underneath you, sit back on your heels. Hinge at your hips as you lean forward, walking your hands out in front of you. Rest your stomach on your thighs, stretching your arms out in front of your head.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and sit back up. Repeat 2-3 times.

Bottom Line

Lower back pain from shortened, tight muscles is quite common. A little gentle stretching can help elongate and loosen the muscles, which will go a long way towards reducing your lower back pain. For more information about how to deal with low back pain, please check out our other posts.

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