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9 Simple Stretches for Lower Back Pain Relief

Castle Connolly Top Doctors

Almost everyone experiences back pain now and then – whether it’s a result of constant slouching over a computer or a symptom of a more serious health condition. But regardless of the main cause of the pain in the lower back, regular stretching helps reduce the discomfort for some time.

So what kind of simple exercises are helpful for lower back pain? Stretching exercises, such as knee-to-chest exercise, cat-cow pose, trunk rotation, cobra pose, pelvic tilt, flexion rotation, child’s pose, seat forward bend, and piriformis stretch relieve muscle tension and improve blood circulation in the lower back area.

9 Exercises to Relieve Pain in the Lower Back

According to the Global Burden of Disease 2010, pain in the lower back area is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It’s also the most common reason why most Americans miss workdays. The reason for lower back pain ranges from simple reasons like poor posture to more complicated ones like internal organ damage and spine conditions.

If you’re experiencing back pain, there’s a huge chance that the muscles in the area are tense. Stretches designed for relieving lower back pain help reduce the tension in the area and improve blood circulation. Here are nine kinds of exercises that help relieve pain in the lower back area:

1. Knee-to-Chest Exercises

This exercise is meant to strengthen the lower back while relieving pain and tension in the area. Here’s how to perform this exercise:

  1. Lie on the back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor.
  2. Interlock the fingers and clasp them together under the bent knee of the right lower leg.
  3. Keep the left foot flat on the floor. Start pulling the right knee to the chest gently until there’s a stretch on the lower back.
  4. Hold the right knee against the chest for at least 30 seconds. Keep the legs, lower back, and hips relaxed.
  5. Release the right knee and return to the original position. Switch legs and repeat the process. Make sure that the right foot stays flat on the floor this time.
  6. Do this at least three times on both legs.

A more difficult version of this exercise involves bringing both of the knees to the chest and holding the position for about 15 seconds. This extra step isn’t necessary because it might put unnecessary strain on others, but it’ll help strengthen the lower back if done correctly.

2. Cat Cow Stretch

Beautiful young woman doing cat cow yoga sequence on mat at park

The cat-cow pose helps improve a person’s flexibility and ease the tension in their lower back and core muscles. This routine is also performed for relieving upper back pain.

  1. Start by getting on all fours with the knees apart at hip-width.
  2. Arch the back by pulling the belly button upward. Let the head drop forward. This is called the “cat stretch.”
  3. Hold this pose for about 10 seconds until there’s a stretch in the lower back.
  4. Return to the original position.
  5. Raise the head and chin upwards while letting the pelvis curl towards the floor. This is called the “cow stretch.”
  6. Hold the cow pose for about 10 seconds before returning to the starting position.
  7. Repeat both poses alternatively about 15 times.

It’s possible to sneak a few cat-cow stretches at work because this is also done in a chair. Keep the feet flat on the floor and rest both hands on the knees.

3. Trunk Rotation

The trunk rotation relieves pain and tension in the lower back, core, abdominal, and pelvic muscles.

  1. Start by lying down on the back. Bring the knees towards the chest.
  2. Extend both arms to the sides with the palms facing the floor.
  3. Roll the bent knees on the right side. Keep the hands planted firmly on the floor and the knees together. Hold the pose for at least 15 seconds.
  4. Return to the neutral position and repeat the process on the left side.
  5. Repeat the whole process for about 5 stretches or rotations on each side.

4. Cobra Pose

Young man in cobra yoga pose on exercise mat doing stretching exercise

This exercise is a good spine and chest stretch that relaxes the tight muscle in the lower back. It’s also a good exercise for the abdominal muscles.

  1. Lie on the floor or yoga mat with the legs extended and palms resting on the sides of the head. The elbows and forearms should lie flat on the ground.
  2. Start pushing the body upwards so that the weight shifts on the forearms. Keep the hips on the ground.
  3. Hold the pose for about 10 seconds until there’s a gentle stretch on the lower back.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat the process at least five times.

5. Pelvic Tilt

This stretch is another simple exercise the effectively releases the tightness in the lower back muscles. This stretch improves the flexibility in the area.

  1. Start by lying on the back with the feet flat, knees bent, and arms resting on the sides. The lower back is slightly lifted because of the spine’s curvature.
  2. Arch the lower back gently and push the stomach out. This pose helps stabilize the core.
  3. Hold the pose for at least 5 seconds before relaxing.
  4. Slightly push the pelvis upward while still touching the floor. Tighten the muscles in the glutes and abdominal area. The lower back should be pressed onto the floor.
  5. Hold the pose for at least 5 seconds before relaxing.
  6. Repeat the process every day. Start with around 10-15 repetitions and slowly build it up to 25-30.

6. Flexion Rotation

This routine stretches the buttocks and lower back. Here’s how to perform the flexion rotation at home:

  1. Start by lying on the right side. Make sure that both legs are straight.
  2. Bend the left leg and hook the left foot behind the right knee.
  3. Hold the left knee using the right arm while placing the left hand behind the neck.
  4. Rotate the upper body backward and let the left shoulder blade touch the floor. There should be a mild stretch in the lower back. This is the rotation stretch.
  5. Hold the stretch for up to 3 seconds before returning to the neutral position. Repeat the rotation stretch about 10 times.
  6. Repeat the whole process on the right leg and the body’s left side.

7. Child’s Pose

This is a traditional yoga pose that strengthens the hip flexor, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. This relieves the tension and pain along the shoulders, neck, and spine. It also loosens the tight muscles in the lower back area while promoting blood circulation and flexibility.

  1. Start on all fours with the knees and hands on the ground. Both of the big toes must touch each other.
  2. Slowly lower the hips until the buttocks are resting on top of the heels. The arms should be kept straight with the forehead touching the floor.
  3. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Return to the neutral position. Make sure to push the arms upwards in the process.
  5. Repeat the exercise a few more times.

8. Seat Forward Bend

The tightness in the hamstring muscles is one of the common contributors to lower back pains. This exercise relieves tightness in the hamstring muscles to relieve tension along the spine and in the lower back.

  1. Start by sitting on the floor with both legs stretched out in front.
  2. Hook a bath towel around the bottom of the feet at the heels.
  3. Bent the hips forward gently. Bring the belly down towards the thigh.
  4. Keep the back straight. Use the towel to bring the body further down.
  5. Stretch the body until there’s mild tension in the lower back and the back of the lower legs.
  6. Hold the pose for about 30 seconds, then rest for another 30 seconds.
  7. Repeat the whole process thrice.

9. Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis muscle is found deep in the buttocks. Stretching this muscle helps relieve tightness in the buttocks and lower back.

  1. Lie on the floor with bent knees. Keep both feet flat against the floor.
  2. Put the right ankle at the left thigh’s base.
  3. Place the hands behind the left thigh and pull it towards the chest until there’s a stretch.
  4. Keep this position for about one minute.
  5. Repeat the process on the opposite leg.

Tips Before Starting a Stretching Routine

As with any kind of exercise, it’s important to treat the body with care. Remember that a good stretch puts pressure on the problem areas, but it’s not supposed to cause sharp pain. Be mindful of the body’s limits and pay attention to proper breathing.

Here are other tips to maximize the exercises’ effects without causing further harm to the body:

What Causes Lower Back Pain?

Back pains are quite common because there are several reasons why it happens. Certain activities (or the lack of activities) contribute to back pain in the lower region. Some spine conditions also cause extreme discomfort in the lower back. Here are some of the most common causes for back pain:

Possible Complications

While back pains are quite common, this symptom shouldn’t be ignored because it spreads to other parts. Problems in the lumbar spine cause back and knee pain that might lead to more serious complications. The best way to relieve lower back pain for good is to find out its underlying cause and undergo the right treatment.

Here are some consequences if the back pain is left untreated:

When to Visit a Doctor for Your Lower Back Pain

Doctor consulting with patient Back problems

Back pains now and then are quite common. But if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s time to consult a doctor or a pain management specialist. They determine the exact cause of the back pain and recommend a treatment plan. Here are other signs that tell you it’s time to visit a doctor for the back pain:

Back Pain Relief with New York Pain Care

Physical therapy and spinal manipulation are two of the most effective treatments to relieve lower back pain. Here at New York Pain Care, we understand that patients want to experience relief so they may return to their daily routines quickly. Our board-certified specialists are here to provide one-on-one care and state-of-the-art treatments for all of our patients.

Start living a pain-free life by consulting with a physical therapist at New York Pain Care today. Learn more about our different services for spine and pain by visiting our website. Call us at (646) 846-1824 now to book an appointment.

Learn more: A Guide to Lower Right Back Pain

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Page Updated on Apr 16, 2021 by Dr. Hosny (Interventional Spine Specialist) of New York Pain Care
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