Lower Back Stretches

If you experience lower back pain, you’re not alone. Over 31 million Americans suffer from low-back pain. It’s also the second most common reason why people visit their doctor.

Low back pain can be caused by several things: lifting heavy objects, not stretching, staying seated for long periods of time, or an accident. The pain can vary, from a dull ache to sharp pain. This kind of pain can restrict our abilities and disturb our sleep.

Sleep is especially important because, without adequate sleep, our bodies don’t have enough time to recover from the day’s activities. To counteract this and promote better sleep, try gentle stretches to relax cramped muscles and reduce pain.

In our article, we share some of the best lower back stretches to help you feel better. If you have sharp, shooting pain that travels throughout your body, talk to a medical professional first before attempting any of these stretches.

Knee to Chest

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Using both hands, grab your left leg with your fingers interlocked just below the kneecap.
  • Pull your left leg towards your chest until you feel a slight stretch in your lower back. Make sure your right foot is flat with the knee bent.
  • Hold your left leg in this position for 30 to 60 seconds, relaxing your lower body.
  • Release your left leg, returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat the same steps, but for your right leg.
  • Do this exercise three times for each leg.

Cat-Cow Stretch

  • Rest on your hands and knees with the knees parallel to your hips.
  • Pull your stomach up towards your spine, arching your back and letting your head drop forward.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Return to your starting position.
  • Raise your head, dropping the stomach and arching your back towards the floor.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times.

Pelvic Tilt Exercise

  • Lying on your back, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Your arms should be at your sides, with the palms pressing down on the floor.
  • Slightly arch your lower back, pushing the stomach out.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, then relax.
  • Without lifting your pelvis from the floor, slightly push your pelvis up towards the ceiling while tightening your abdominal muscles, pushing your lower back into the floor.
  • Hold for 10 seconds, then relax.
  • Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Flexion Rotation

  • Lie on your left side with your legs straight out.
  • Bend your right leg, almost resting the right foot over the left kneecap.
  • Taking your left arm, hold the right leg just under the kneecap.
  • Place your right hand under your neck.
  • Slowly move your upper body to the right side, until your right shoulder blade touches the floor.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  • Switch to the right side.
  • Repeat stretching exercises up to 10 times.

Supported Bridge

  • Lie flat on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor.
  • Lift your hips and place a firm cushion, rolled-up towel, or foam roller underneath.
  • Completely relax your body and hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

Child’s Pose

  • Kneel on the floor, with knees spaced apart and hands in your lap.
  • Using your hands and arms, move forward until your arms are straight on the floor. The lower abdomen should be resting on your thighs and forehead touching the floor.
  • Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing deeply and relaxing tense muscles.

Piriformis Stretch

  • Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Take your right leg and cross it over so that your right ankle is resting on top of your left thigh.
  • Grab your left thigh with both hands just below the kneecap and pull your thigh towards your chest until you feel a slight stretch.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Switch legs and do the same stretch for the other side.
  • Repeat 3 to 5 times for each leg.

Seated Spinal Twist

  • Sit down on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  • Bend your right knee and place your right foot so that it rests on the outside of your left thigh.
  • Curl your left leg around so that your left foot is pressing against your right glute.
  • Take a deep breath and raise both arms above your head with palms facing each other.
  • As you exhale, bring your arms down and twist your upper body to the right.
  • Place your right hand on the floor slightly behind you to brace yourself.
  • The back of your upper left arm rests just above your right kneecap.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Supine Twist

  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Stretch your arms straight out, forming a “T” position.
  • Gently roll your knees to the right side, keeping your shoulders pressed to the ground.
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Go back to the starting position, then repeat for the left side.

Why Is It Important to Stretch?

Stretching is not an activity reserved only for those with an active lifestyle. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends adults stretch two to three times a week. Regular stretching promotes flexibility and reduces the likelihood of an injury.

An excellent example of how this can help is if you have a desk job. Sitting for long periods, hunched over the computer, causes the hip flexor muscles to shorten and pull the pelvis forward, pushing the lower back out of alignment. Hip flexor muscles enable you to lift your leg and knee towards your body.

When these muscle groups shorten, they feel stiff and limit your flexibility. Standing up occasionally and regularly stretching keeps hip flexor muscles loose and won’t push the spine out of alignment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you treat a tight lower back?

If you experience stiffness in your lower back, there are some easy ways to soothe tense muscles. One method is doing some light stretching. When you stretch, you should experience slight discomfort but not pain. If you have sharp pain, talk to a healthcare provider.

Can a mattress cause back pain?

Sleeping on a lumpy mattress can lead to back pain. A sleep surface should always be even to provide support and encourage spinal alignment. If you wake up feeling sore or struggle with sleep, the problem could be your mattress.

Is walking good for lower back pain?

For mild cases of lower back pain, walking can help. Walking strengthens muscles in the torso, hips, and legs, improves posture and flexibility, and strengthens bones. These health benefits can soothe aching muscles and reduce future back pain.

Is bed rest good for lower back pain?

If you have back pain, it may be tempting to stay in bed, but that’s not always the case. Doing light activities and moving around can help alleviate back pain. Movement loosens tense muscles while staying still causes already tight muscles to stiffen, worsening pain.

How many days rest for lower back pain?

Some cases of low back pain, like acute low back pain, require bed rest. Depending on the case, bed rest can last two days to two weeks. Researchers did a study to determine how much bed rest is required for a faster recovery. During the study, researchers found that one group, who were on bed rest for three days, had the same recovery time and the second group, who were on bed rest for seven days.

Conclusion

Even though low back pain is common, you don’t have to be stuck with it. Stretching the lower back at least three times a week keeps muscles pliable, so you’re less likely to injure yourself.

If you have lower back pain, consult your doctor first. Depending on the conditions, some lower back stretches can worsen existing pain. Your medical professional can give you further guidance on how to reduce this pain.

You might also benefit from a mattress for lower back pain. Sleeping on an old or unsupportive mattress can limit your nightly recovery, leaving you with a stiff or sore back in the morning.

This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional.

James Nguyen, Sleep Expert James Nguyen

James Nguyen is Zoma's resident sleep expert and staff writer. James enjoys learning about the newest technologies in the mattress industry and doing deep dives into the science of sleep. He's tried nearly every gadget and gizmo in an effort to determine which sleep-promoting accessories can truly enhance your shut-eye. Outside of work, James takes his dedication to get healthy sleep seriously, and has even declared himself an "expert napper."

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