10 stretching exercises to help back pain

Back pain is widespread nowadays. The pain could be because of bad posture, muscle fatigue, or some underlying medical cause.  Pain in the back is bothersome, as it puts your daily work and lifestyle in a fix.

Medications are really not the solution, as it has severe side effects and long-term health implications. However, stretches for back pain are very effective in managing back pain, whether lower back pain or upper back pain. Exercises relax the muscles and make them pliable. It reduces pain and increases the range of motion.

Stretching exercises to relieve back pain are very simple to perform and does not need any assistance or a physical therapist.

It is practical, economical, and free from any kind of side effects.  In the long run, these stretches for back pain will make your back muscles strong. They help the spine and the skeletal structure to bear the weight more efficiently.

Stretches to help lower back pain

Bad posture, pinched nerve, degradation of the spines are various reasons for the back pain. The following simple stretches for the lower back provide relief for all the above causes.

Hamstring stretch

Several muscles influence the working of the lower back. And one of them is the hamstring. This exercise loosens and stretches the hamstring, which can relieve pain in the lower back.

  • Stand comfortably in front of a bench or a chair.
  • Rest your left leg straight on the chair.
  • Bend down from the waist and try to reach the toes of the stretched leg with your left leg.
  • This movement stretches the hamstring nice and hard.
  • Hold the stretch for a couple of moments, and slowly get back to the original stance.
  • Repeat this exercise with the other leg
  • This is one set.
  • Repeat for 6 -8 sets.

Quadruped arm and leg stretch

  • Be on the floor on your fours.
  • Raise and stretch your left hand straight ahead
  • Simultaneously extend your right leg straight behind.
  • Hold the stretch tight and firm for a count of 5.
  • Gradually come back to the original stance.
  • Repeat with the other hand and the other leg.
  • Repeat the whole exercise 6 -8 times.

The pelvic tilt/ pelvic arc

  • Lie down supine on the floor.
  • Bend your knees to place the heels flat on the ground near your glutes.
  • Place your arms at the sides or under the head.
  • Slowly raise your pelvis, abdomen to form an arch
  • Hold it for a count of 5
  • Return to normal position.
  • Repeat it 6 -8 times.

Gluteal stretch

  • Lie down supine, fold your knees, and rest the heel firmly on the ground.
  • Raise the ankle of the left leg on the thighs of the right
  • With both, the hands hold the back of the right thigh.
  • Pull the right thigh towards your chest.
  • You will feel an intense stretch in the glutes.
  • Hold it for a count of 5.
  • Release the leg slowly and come back to the original position
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • This makes it one set.
  • Repeat for 6 -8 sets.

Stretching exercises for the upper back

The upper back is composed of the shoulder, back, neck, and a huge trapezius muscle, which holds all the three above.

Some simple stretches for upper back pain are;

Upper back stretch

The upper back is a big part of the body, and it requires quite an effort to stretch it properly.

This exercise does an excellent job of stretching the whole upper back at one go. The neck shoulder and back muscles are engaged simultaneously.

  • Stand in front of a table, which is waist height.
  • Place both your palms down on the table towards the edge.
  • Bend your knees to squat, but keep your hands straight.
  • Go down in your squat and hold the stretch for at least a count of 5.
  • Slowly come back to the start position.

Side lat stretch

The lats are long muscles of the back located at both sides. These muscles come into play when you pull a door or do pull-ups or any other pulling action. This exercise stretches these lateral muscles.

  • Stand comfortably with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Raise both your hands above the head and interlock the fingers of both the hands.
  • Keep your body straight.
  • Without bending forward, stretch your body sideways to the left.
  • Fee the stretch on the right lats and hold it for a few moments.
  • Now stretch your body to the right and feel the stretch in the left lats.
  • Hold the stretch for few moments.

Thoracic extension

The part of the spine in the upper back is known as the thoracic spine, and it comprises 12 vertebras.

This exercise stretches the thoracic spine and the allied muscles and ligaments.

  • Sit comfortably on a chair with a straight and robust backrest.
  • Sit with your back, ideally touching the backrest from the lower spine to the upper back.
  • Take your hands behind the neck and interlock the fingers.
  • Keeping the upper back straight, push back your head as far as possible.
  • You can feel a strong and prominent stretch in the thoracic region.
  • Hold the stretch for a count of 5 -7
  • Slowly bring your head to the normal position.
  • Repeat 8 – 10 times.

Hip stretches exercises

Apart from the hip joint, the hip has about 17 different types of muscles. Any of these muscles can fatigue or get stiff or tense.

The following exercises help relax these muscles and provide relief in case of hip pain.

Thigh stretch

  • Stand comfortably.
  • Keep your right hand on the backrest of a chair to support you.
  • Raise your left leg, bending at the knee, and try to touch your but with your heel.
  • With your left hand, hold the ankle of the left leg firmly and pull it up as far as possible.
  • Feel the stretch for a couple of moments
  • Then release your leg gradually and come to the starting point.
  • Repeat the stretch with your other leg.
  • Repeat for 6 -8 stretches.

Low lunge

  • Stand comfortably with your feet wide enough to be balanced well.
  • Take the right foot forward, as far as you can, without getting unbalanced.
  • Bend the right leg knee to lunge forward.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Go as low as possible.
  • Feel the stretch and hold for a few moments.
  • If necessary, support yourself by holding a chair.
  • Repeat the  stretch with the other leg.
  • Repeat the set 6 -8 times.

The pigeon twist

  • Be seated comfortably on a chair.
  • Place your right ankle on the left knee.
  • Hold the right knee with both your hands.
  • Turn and twist your body to the right without letting go of the hand or the leg lock.
  • Keep it stretched nice for a few moments.
  • Come back to start.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • Do 6 -8 sets.

Stretches are a great and simple way to relax your muscles and reduce the pain. It improves blood circulation and makes the muscles flexible. The associated ligaments and tendons benefit from the stretch.

These great do-it-yourself stretch should be practiced, not only when you have pain, but as preventive measures also.