Stretches for Back Pain


An estimated eight out of every ten people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit a physician. It can be caused by normal wear and tear, overuse, injuries, muscles, bones, nerves, or discs. The most common causes of back pain are muscular irritation and joint dysfunction.

Stretches for back pain

For individuals with back pain, stretching the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the spine can be beneficial for mobility and pain relief. Below are six stretches for back pain.

  • Back flexion Start by lying on your back. Carefully pull your knees in toward your chest, while also pulling your nose toward your knees, until a stretch is felt across the back.
  • Back extension Start by lying on your stomach. Prop yourself up on your elbows. Slowly straighten your arms, extending your back until a stretch is felt.
  • Cat stretch Begin on your hands and knees. Slowly arch your back, rounding your spine and tucking your chin toward your chest. Then pull your abdomen toward the ground, gently stretching your neck and back.
  • Shoulder blade squeeze Sit on a stool or other backless seat. While sitting up tall, pull your shoulder blades together behind your back.
  • Child’s pose Begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back to rest on your heels. While leaning forward through your hips, rest your abdomen on your thighs. Rest your head on the ground, a yoga block, or a towel. Stretch your arms forward or extend them behind you, with your palms up.
  • Seated spinal twist Sit on the ground with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your left leg, placing the sole of your left foot on the outside of your right leg. Place your right arm on your left leg and your left hand on the ground behind you. Carefully twist to your left until a stretch is felt. Switch legs and stretch the other side.

These stretches should be held for 10 to 20 seconds without bouncing. They should be repeated two to five times, at least once per day. The stretches may create tension, but pain should not be experienced. If stretches cause or worsen pain, stop and consult a health care professional or physical therapist before continuing.