Has your back been bothering you? Here are 9 back stretches to help you alleviate upper, mid, and lower back pains.
- Lower Back Pain Stretches
- Middle Back Pain Stretches
- Upper Back Pain Stretches
Back Stretches | 9 Exercises for Back Pain Relief
Lower Back Pain Stretches
1. Knee Rolls
This is a great exercise to release tension in the glutes and stretch your lower back, which can offer relief from lower back pain. This stretch can also do wonders for spine strengthening and pelvic control.
- Lie on your back. Prop your head using a small cushion or book.
- Spread your arms all the way to the side.
- While keeping your feet together, bend your knees until both feet are planted on the floor.
- Roll your knees to the left. Be sure to keep your shoulders square.
- Hold the position for one deep breath, then return to your starting position.
- Repeat 4-5 times on each side.
2. Back Extensions
This is one of the best back stretches if suspect that your back pain stems from bad posture. Similar to the Knee Rolls stretch, this exercise can also help ease the pain caused by a tight lower back and strengthens your spine.
- Lie facedown on your stomach.
- Support yourself on your forearms.
- Inhale, then exhale as you slowly push down the floor while arching your back.
- Hold for up to 10 seconds. Don’t forget to breathe while you’re in this position.
- Repeat 8-10 times.
3. Knee to Chest Stretch
This is another great exercise to help ease your back pain. It works by strengthening and increasing flexibility in your glutes.
- Lie on your back.
- Bend your left knee, then slowly bring it up towards your chest.
- When your upper leg has touched your chest, hold your leg using both hands.
- Hold the position for at least 30 seconds.
- Do the same for your right leg. Repeat up to 10 times per leg.
Middle Back Pain Stretches
4. Back Twist
This is one of the best middle back stretches you can choose, and you can even do it when you’re at work since all it requires is a chair. You can also do it cross-legged on the floor if you wish, but if you’ll be using a chair, be sure it has enough space so your palm can rest comfortably on it.
- Sit tall, then put your right hand behind you. Rest your palm flat on the surface.
- Extend your left hand to your right knee.
- Slowly turn to the right, keeping your chest open and your back straight. Don’t overstretch and avoid turning too aggressively.
- Gradually turn your head further towards the direction of your right shoulder. Keep your neck long and stretched, but only go as far as you can without causing pain or discomfort.
- Hold for 3-5 breaths before returning to the center. Repeat for the other side.
5. Passive Backbend
For this stretch, you’ll need a rolled-up towel or blanket. It’s probably one of the easiest middle back pain stretches and will feel extremely relaxing after a long, stressful day.
- Lie on your back, keeping the rolled-up towel near the middle of your back and just below the shoulder blades.
- Stay in this position and relax. Feel your breathing.
- Hold for at least five minutes.
6. Cat-Cow Back Stretches
The name of this gentle stretch comes from the fact that you’re on all fours and are performing movements that resemble a cat and a cow. It will require you to arch your back, like a cat, and collapse your body in a U-shape, like a cow.
- Start by kneeling on all fours. Keep your knees and palms firmly planted on the ground. Your wrist should be under your shoulders, while your knees under your hips.
- Arch your back as far back as you can, while keeping your chest open.
- Collapse your body and hunch your back as you return to your starting position.
- Repeat 5-7 times.
Upper Back Pain Stretches
7. Thoracic Extensions
The thoracic spine can be found at the back of the chest (thorax) all the way down to where the lumbar spine begins, which is roughly around the waist. Usual causes for thoracic spine pain include poor posture and muscle tension, but stretches like this can bring fast relief to this type of back pain.
- Sit tall on a chair, then position your hands behind your head.
- Gradually arch your neck backward until your head is facing the ceiling.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
8. Corner-Wall Back Stretches
One possible reason why there’s a stiffness in your back is that your chest is also tight. For this exercise, you’d need to stand in a corner where two walls meet.
- Face the walls and rest on your elbows on them at shoulder-level.
- Slowly lean in towards the wall.
- Hold the position for 20-30 seconds.
- Repeat with your arms above-shoulder-level.
- You can also do another variation where extend your arms below your chest. Rest your palms on the wall, then lean in.
9. Upper Trapezius Stretch
The trapezius muscle supports your arms and runs from the neck down to the middle of the back and across the shoulder blades. A strain in this muscle can cause back, neck, and shoulder pains. This simple exercise stretches your upper trapezius and can be done anywhere.
- Look straight, relax your shoulders and keep them square.
- Without moving your chin or shoulders, slowly tilt your head down to your right shoulder.
- Hold the position for at least 10 seconds, but no more than 30 seconds.
- Repeat for the other side.
In this video, Howard County General Hospital lists the common causes of back pain:
Back muscles are one of the most common to experience overuse from exercise because they are subjected to extreme pressure and strain. Doing these gentle upper, mid, and lower back exercises can help ease tension in your muscles and improve flexibility to prevent back pain and injuries. However, keep in mind that these stretches are not a solution for more serious conditions so if you’re back pain gets worse or doesn’t improve after a week, it’s best to seek the help of a doctor.
Which of these stretches is the most effective for you? Let us know in the comments section below!