The Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain

The Best Stretches for Lower Back Pain

Authored by Audrey on February 7, 2020

As anybody who’s experienced it knows lower back pain can be debilitating. It’s also a pretty common health complaint—around 80% of adults have experienced back pain in their lives.

 

As excruciating as lower back pain can be, there are ways to manage it. Many people find relief from engaging in certain stretches and physical positions to ease the pain. However, before you jump to fix a symptom, it’s helpful to find the actual source of your lower back pain. That will ensure that you’re taking the proper steps to prevent future pain and staying on top of your physical health.

 

What Causes Lower Back Pain? 

Before you address your lower back pain, try to pinpoint why it’s happening. Here are some of the common causes: 

 

 

  • Inactive/Sedentary Lifestyle

 

If you feel that your lower back pain has increased since starting a new job where you sit a lot, you might be onto something. Prolonged periods of sitting down have been shown to increase lower back pain. We’re not just talking about hours spent at the office, either. If you’re constantly sitting behind the wheel of a car or spend all of your free time on your couch, this type of pain may affect you as well.

 

 

  • Repetitive Movement

 

In some cases, lower back pain can be attributed to a physical strain. This can either come about as a one-off or it can become a chronic condition. Chronic lower back pain is common in those who perform repetitive actions in their daily lives, either through work or physical activity. 

 

 

  • Menstruation

 

As if abdominal cramping wasn’t enough, many women experience lower back pain during their monthly menstrual cycle. Though this is common, it’s best to see a doctor if the pain is consistently excruciating, as it may indicate a larger gynecological issue. 

 

 

  • Health Issues 

 

Sometimes lower back pain can be indicative of a larger health issue, like fibromyalgia or kidney stones. If you can’t seem to kick the pain, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor.

 

 

  • Weak Core Power

 

When your center is unstable, things start to feel out of whack. One of the most common causes for lower back pain is a weak core—that’s actually great news, because it’s something you can easily fix. Working with a fitness coach to strengthen your core won’t just help your lower back pain, it’ll set you up to succeed in other physical environments. 

 

 

  • Injury

 

An injury can certainly contribute to lower back pain. Perhaps you lifted something wrong, took a spill, or had an accident on the playing field. 

 

Is Lower Back Pain Harmful?

Unless it’s persistent and severe, lower back pain generally isn’t indicative of anything too terrible. However, as we outlined above, it can be connected to health issues like fibromyalgia; it can also be a warning sign of impending kidney stones. If you cannot find relief from your lower back pain, it’s recommended you seek medical help. 

 

Can Stretches Ease My Lower Back Pain?

Lots of people suffering from lower back pain find relief from certain stretches. Regularly practicing these stretches can also help to prevent future pain. Here at Jack City Fitness, we’re pretty well-versed in the practice of targeting certain areas through stretching and exercise. Here are some of our tried-and-true stretches for easing lower back pain:

 

 

  • The Shoulder Blade Squeeze

 

This move is one of our favorites, as you can do it while standing. That makes it a great quick stretch when lower back pain hits while you’re on the train, at work, or out with friends. It’s also a great preventative stretch; it engages and strengthens your core and will contribute to better posture. 

To perform this stretch:

  • Stand up straight.
  • Bend your arms and close your fists.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades back and downwards, as if your elbows were going into your back pockets. Don’t shrug your shoulders upwards! 
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Repeat ten times.

 

 

  • The Classic Bridge

 

This stretch is fantastic for easing and preventing lower back pain, as it is a brilliant core-strengthener. 

To perform a bridge:

  • Lay on your back, plant your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent, and lay your arms to your side with your palms down.
  • Lift your body off the floor, beginning with your bum. Everything should be perfectly straight, from your hips to your shoulders. Keep your shoulders and arms flat on the ground.
  • Squeeze your buttocks and hold.
  • Return your body to the floor, rest, and repeat fifteen times.
  • Perform three reps of this cycle. 

 

 

  • One Knee to Chest

 

This stretch really does work magic when easing lower back pain. It elongates the back, and can even be a useful sleeping position for those who experience pain when they’re trying to sleep. With that said, if your pain worsens while performing this stretch, stop immediately. 

To perform this stretch:

  • Lay on your back.
  • Plant your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Raise one knee to your chest.
  • Hold for at least 15 seconds. If this hurts your back, you can try straightening your other leg.
  • Repeat five times.
  • Switch sides and repeat with your other leg.

 

 

  • The Cat Scratch

 

Whether you prefer canines or felines, the cat scratch stretch will be your new secret weapon for back pain relief and prevention. This move, which gets its name from—you guessed it—the elaborate stretches performed by our furry friends, strengthens and lengthens the (human) back, and helps ease muscle tension. Meowing is optional!

To perform this stretch:

  • Get on your hands and knees on the floor or your yoga mat. Make sure that you’ve aligned your knees so they are the width of your hips.
  • Bring your belly button towards your spine and arch your back.
  • Relax your abdominal muscles.
  • Carefully bring your back to the position you began with.
  • Repeat five times.

 

 

  • The Kneeling Lunge

 

This stretch works your hip flexors, which affect your posture and ultimately your lower back health. Performing kneeling lunges will also help your mobility, thus reducing soreness after you hit the gym. Win-win. 

To perform this stretch:

  • Kneel on the floor or your yoga mat. One knee should be on the ground behind you, while the other is bent at a 90-degree angle in front of you. Your front foot must be flat on the ground. Imagine the way someone proposes marriage—that’s about how you should look.
  • Put your hand on your hip.
  • Engage your core and squeeze those glutes.
  • While keeping your torso straight, shift your weight towards your bent leg. Hold. 
  • For a deeper stretch, use your free hand to grab your back leg.
  • Repeat at least five times. 

 

 

  • The Superhero

 

Be your own hero by practicing a stretch that helps ease and prevent your lower back pain. The superhero stretch is a great exercise for this particular area, as it strengthens your back extensors. 

To bring out your own super-strength (and alleviate lower back pain), follow these steps:

  • Get onto the floor or your mat, and lay on your front (facedown). Spread your arms in front of you and keep your legs on the floor.
  • Lift your hands and feet about six inches away from your mat.
  • Engage your core and pull your belly button away from the ground.
  • Hold your head nice and straight. It’s best to look straight down at your mat.
  • Stretch those arms and legs as far out as you can—just like a flying superhero.
  • Hold this position for at least two seconds.
  • Go back to your original pose.
  • Repeat this cycle ten times.

 

 

  • The Chair Stretch

 

If lower back pain hits while you’re sitting down, there’s no need to suffer in silence. A seated lower back stretch can be done from anywhere: your cubicle, an airplane seat, during jury duty— wherever you’re stuck in a chair. 

To perform this stretch, get into an armless chair and:

  • Sit with both your feet planted on the floor.
  • Keep your hips still and your spine straight. 
  • Engage your core.
  • Starting from your abs, twist to the right.
  • Clasp your hands behind your head, like you’re going to lay down for a nap.
  • Hold the pose for at least ten seconds.
  • Perform the same steps, but twist to your left side.
  • Perform 3-5 reps of each side.

 

 

  • The Sphinx

 

Yoga enthusiasts may recognize this pose from some of their sessions. Unlike the other stretches we’ve covered here, the Sphinx pose is one that you’ll hold for a couple of minutes rather than perform in reps. It’s a great way to both relieve lower back pain and unwind after a tiring day. 

Those with chronic injuries should check with a professional before engaging in this particular pose. 

To perform this stretch:

  • Get onto the floor or your mat and lay on your stomach. You want your elbows to land under your shoulders. 
  • Keep your arms in front of you, palms to the mat.
  • Your legs should be behind you and slightly spread (about the width of your hips).
  • Splay your toes out, pressing the tops of your feet to the ground.
  • Engage your thighs, lower back, and bum.
  • Inhale as you carefully lift your chest and head.
  • Keep your pelvis pressed against the mat.
  • Look straight ahead and breathe.
  • Hold this pose for at least 60 seconds. Three minutes is ideal.

 

 

  • The Pelvic Tilt

 

The stronger your abs are, the happier your lower back will be. The pelvic tilt is a fantastic stretch for your abdominal muscles, hamstrings, and glues. Performing this can really help loosen up your back.

To try the pelvic tilt:

  • Lay on your back on the floor or your mat.
  • Plant your feet on the ground and bend both of your knees.
  • Engage your core and press your back into the floor.
  • Hold this position for at least ten seconds, breathing the entire time.
  • Relax. 
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Perform at least one set of five reps. 

 

These are some of our favorite stretches for lower back pain, but they’re not the only ones. The world of stretches and exercises is so vast. Every athlete we know has their own favorite workout or pose, and we encourage you to try new stretches to find some that work for you.

 

Here at Jack City Fitness, we’ve got a team of experts with a passion for fitness and nutrition; we even have a specialist yoga instructor. With our combined knowledge and experience, it’s easy to create a workout plan that suits your individual needs. Whether that’s strengthening your core to avoid pain, learning a new athletic skill, honing your sports performance, or something else entirely, we’ve got your (lower) back. 

 

If you’re in the city, we’d love for you to come and visit our fitness center in Boise Junction. Once you arrive, we can give you a tour of our innovative facility, introduce you to some of our specialists, and let you peek into some of our classes. We’ll even invite you to try your own fitness consultation for free, so it’ll be easier to make you a custom plan. 

 

If you decide to join us and become a partner, you’ll have instant 24/7 access to our gym, as well as a fantastic schedule of classes to try. We even offer custom training options, like online coaching and team sessions. Best of all, we’re always here to offer support and suggestions. 

 

The bottom line? If it involves movement, you can count on us, so get in touch today. You can call (208) 999-1111 or drop us a line right here online. We’ll get back to you ASAP—we can’t wait to help you meet your goals.