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10 Pain Stretches for Back Pain Relief

You might know that stretching is a good idea for back pain relief. However, many people don’t consider how important it is for treatment.

Stretching and strengthening are key to preventing and healing back pain, according to a Harvard Medical School article.

In this guide, learn 10 stretches for low, middle, and upper back pain relief.

Note: As always, consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise or stretching program.

Why Stretching Works for Back Pain Relief

When it comes to exercising and stretching, experts say your goal should depend on the type of pain you’re experiencing:
When trying to meet your back pain goals, look for exercises and stretches that target:

Together, these can help you maintain good posture and put less stress on your back.

A 2011 study showed that yoga and stretching provided low back pain relief. Both yoga and stretching with a physical therapist resulted in volunteers using less medication. Importantly, the volunteers’ improvements lasted several months after their classes ended.

There are a few reasons stretching helps your back. Firstly, it reduces tension, which can reduce pain. Improving your range of motion and mobility makes you more able to do normal activities without straining your back, causing aches.

Stretching also helps you prevent accidents. Working like a well-oiled machine, stretched muscles are less prone to injuries. On the other hand, those less flexible have tenser muscles with restricted mobility, making injuries like sprains more likely.

There could be some psychological benefits too. Stretching may change the way our brain perceives pain. Researchers at Laval University and McGill University found that stretching increases a person’s tolerance for pain. After doing stretches, researchers needed to apply more pressure to the volunteers to cause pain. This suggests that, for some, stretching can make back pain feel duller than before.

If you’re experiencing back pain and suspect that it may be related to your workspace, take a look at this post for helpful tips on creating an ergonomic workspace.

Lower Back Pain Stretches for Lower Back Pain Relief

These stretches are ideal for lower back pain relief. How long you hold each stretch depends on your flexibility. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to start small and work your way up to avoid injury. Never continue a stretch if it’s increasing your back pain.

#1 Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a relaxing yoga pose, great for taking pressure off of your back. It stretches both the lower and upper muscles.

How to: With your knees spread apart and your toes together, lean back, resting your butt on your heels. Let your forehead rest on the floor with your arms extended in front of you.

#2 Cat-Cow Pose

Cat-Cow is another yoga pose that’s one of the best lower back pain stretches. Since it involves arching and rounding your spine repetitively, the extension can provide instant lower back pain relief.

This is a good stretch for another reason: it helps with posture. Those with back pain often have problems with posture and cat-cow can help them know what a normal—AKA a “neutral”—spine feels like.

How to: Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Ensure your shoulders are over your wrists and your hips are positioned over the knees. Slowly round your spine, sending your head downward. Slowly lift your head, arching your back. Repeat.

#3 Knee-to-Chest

Knee-to-chest is a great option when you’re looking for lower back pain stretches. It improves mobility and stretches abdominal muscles, which can support the back.

How to: Lay down on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Starting with one leg, use both hands to hold under the knee. Bring the knee toward your chest while keeping the other leg on the floor. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

#4 Standing Hip Extension

Tight hip muscles can contribute to low back pain. This stretch gently increases the mobility of your hips by interchangeably lifting your legs. It’s a good exercise for seniors or anyone with limited flexibility.

How to: Stand up using a chair at your side or in front for balance. Bring your leg back, straightening your knee and keeping your hips level. Hold the position before bringing your leg back down. Repeat on the other leg.

#5 Seated Spinal Twist

For lower back pain relief, try this stretch for your back, glutes, and hips. The gentle twist of your spine can feel relaxing as you work to increase mobility.

How to: Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs in front of you. Bend your left knee, placing your foot over your other leg. Position your left arm behind you and your right arm in front of your left thigh area. Gently twist the bottom of your spine to the left. Hold this stretch and then return to a seated position. Repeat on the other side.

Stretches for Upper and Middle Back Pain Relief

These stretches can help decrease pain and improve flexibility in the mid and upper back. Stretch as often as directed by your healthcare practitioner. Although you can stretch only when you’re experiencing back pain, a regular routine can help reduce or keep aches away for good.

#1 Overhead Arm Reach

One of the most basic stretches for upper back pain relief is the overhead arm reach. You can easily do it at your desk to ease tense muscles.

How to: Sit in a chair and extend your right arm over your head, reaching to the left. Bend your torso to ease into the stretch and hold. Return to a normal seated position and repeat on the other side.

#2 Overhead Triceps Stretch

This stretch is another one great for upper back pain on the right or left side because it targets the serratus muscles.

How to: Sit or stand while raising your right hand over your head. Bend your elbow, placing your right hand near your upper back. With your left hand, grasp your right elbow. Gently pull and hold the stretch.

#3 Thread the Needle

Thread the needle is a good stretch for back pain because it works both sides of the body. Since it loosens upper back muscles, it’s also a good choice if you’re experiencing back pain on the upper right side or left side specifically.

How to: Begin on your hands and knees with your knees below your hips. Keeping this posture, walk your hands out. With your arms straight, thread your right arm under your left arm, shifting your chest. With your left hand resting palm up, hold the stretch. Repeat on the other arm.

#4 Cobra Pose

Cobra pose is a soothing stretch that can provide middle back pain relief.

How to: Lay on the floor face down. Position your hands under your shoulders with your elbows tucked in. Using your arms, push up, lifting your head and chest from the floor. Hold this backbend stretch before lowering again.

#5 Bridge

Practicing bridge pose can strengthen back, butt, and abdomen muscles, which help support the back, decreasing pain.

How to: Lay on your back with your knees bent and hands at your sides, palms facing down. Squeeze your butt muscles to raise your pelvis upwards and back off the ground. Hold the pose for a few seconds before repeating.

Physiotherapists Provide Personalized Stretches

Creating a stretching routine yourself may improve your back pain. If not, it’s a good idea to seek out physiotherapy treatment. Physiotherapists develop treatment plans to help you reduce pain and increase mobility. After a session with a physiotherapist for back pain, you’ll learn stretches and exercises you can do at home to target the muscle group in question. As opposed to guessing what stretches will work for you, an expert will provide a custom plan.

Find a Physiotherapist for Back Pain Near You

To make the most out of your time stretching, consider getting professional stretch recommendations from a physiotherapist for back pain. To find a physiotherapist clinic near you, visit Medimap and enter your location. On your selected listing, click “Book Appointment.”

About the author

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Shereen Mohammed

Shereen is a passionate marketing professional with over 7 years of experience in executing traditional and digital marketing strategies across diverse industries. With a background in both agency and client-side roles, Shereen has successfully implemented effective marketing campaigns that have yielded a positive return on investment. As an energetic individual, Shereen possesses strong organizational and communication skills, ensuring seamless team coordination and collaboration. She thrives in process-driven environments, paying meticulous attention to detail while remaining focused on achieving results. With a proven ability to manage multiple projects in competitive and fast-paced settings, she is dedicated to driving success through strategic marketing initiatives.

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