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5 Best Back Stretches for Stiffness & Pain (Feel the Relief)

Christiana Mikesch
Published by Christiana Mikesch
Last updated: May 15, 2023

Whether you’re dealing with a sore back due to spending long hours of the day at a desk or you’ve got some stiffness after tough back exercises, back stretches are probably the most underrated ways to get some relief.

To help our readers and clients better understand how and when to do a back stretch, we got a physical therapist to help out with putting together this information.

We’ll cover everything from the basic child’s pose to the more advanced supine twist to give you plenty of options.

Quick Summary

  • Stretching can be one of the easiest ways to deal with low back pain, especially after a tough training session.
  • The simplest back stretches are the cat pow and child’s pose, and if you do these regularly after a workout, you’ll find you avoid a lot of the soreness.
  • If you’re dealing with chronic pain or nerve damage, then it’s best to talk to a spine specialist before trying to do these stretches.

What Is The Best Way To Stretch Back Muscles?

A woman stretching her back muscles

The best way to stretch back muscles for back pain relief is to get into the yoga child’s pose.

If it’s general back pain from sitting at a desk all day, then this should be a gentle way to get some relief.

And for athletes who are dealing with stiff muscles after a strength training workout, stretching in this way will also provide a lot of relief.

And if you have posture problems like head forward alignment, then regular stretching using our below recommendations can help a lot [1].

“Forward head posture (FHP) is a common condition where your head is positioned with your ears in front of your body’s vertical midline. In normal or neutral head posture, your ears line up with your shoulders and midline.”

- Courtney Sullivan, Certified Yoga Instructor

5 Back Stretches To Start Doing Right Now 

A woman doing the child's pose back stretch

Here are five back stretches that can help with back pain relief:

1. Child’s Pose

Here are the instructions for one of the easiest stretches to do:

  1. Get into the starting position of being on all fours on a exercise mat with knees below your hips and hands below your shoulders.
  2. Slowly lower your buttock down onto your ankles and keep your hands where they are.
  3. Try to reach out further and gently lean forward to intensify the stretch in the upper back.
  4. Now, move your right arm further right and bring your left hand to the right as well.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds and do the same towards the other side.

2. Spine Twist

A woman doing a spine twist on a yoga mat

Also known as the supine twist, here are the instructions for this floor stretch:

  1. Get into the starting position and lie on your back with your legs stretched out.
  2. Gently bend your left knee and bring it over beside the other leg as far as possible.
  3. Keep your shoulders on the mat and turn your head to the left arm and shoulder.
  4. You should feel the stretch in your lower back and even slightly in your abdominal muscles.

3. Cat-Cow Stretch

This cat-cow stretch is another easy yoga movement ideal for lower back pain.

Here’s what to do:

  1. The starting position is on all fours with a neutral spine.
  2. Tilt your head forward and lower it down while lifting and rounding your spine.
  3. Hold this position for ten seconds and then revert back to the starting point.
  4. Now lift your head up and try to look at the ceiling while arching your back.
  5. You’ll also find that this stretch might help to relieve neck pain.

4. Glute Bridge

A woman doing a glute bridge

Here’s another great floor stretch that is great for a post-workout cooldown:

  1. The starting position for this is to lie on your back and feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. With your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, start to push your hips up in the air.
  3. Hold the position and feel the stretch in your lower back as you push further up.
  4. Lower back down after about 15 seconds, and keep your knees bent.
  5. Repeat this a few times in a row.

5. Hip Flexor Stretch

Also known as the knee-to-chest stretch, this one is also great for relieving pressure and tightness in the hips:

  1. Lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift one leg up and place the foot on the thigh of the opposite leg.
  3. Gently pull the opposite leg towards your chest while keeping the knees bent.
  4. Once you’re done with one leg, reverse to the other side and repeat the same movement.

Also Read: 9 Top Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretches

When Is The Best Time To Stretch It? 

A woman stretching out her back

The best time to stretch your back is after an upper-body workout routine for women.

If you have regular back pain, then I would suggest that you do some of the above exercises daily.

My physical therapist even suggested that people who sit at a desk all day should do these stretches daily to help with posture [2].


How Do You Loosen A Tight Back?

You loosen a tight back with target stretches. You need to focus on a few different poses and movements to cover both your upper and lower back muscles effectively.

Is It Good To Stretch Your Back If It Hurts?

Yes, it can be good to stretch your back if it hurts. However, if you have chronic nerve pain like sciatica, then it’s better to discuss a stretching routine with a doctor or physio.

Try Adding A Back Stretch To Your Cooldown

If you want to avoid back pain and muscle soreness, then I highly recommend that you add a couple of the above stretches to your cooldown routine.

They will only take a couple of minutes and should also help you lower your heart rate.

The other thing you might want to try is taking a high-quality post-workout supplement.

These can make a big difference in the level of soreness and speed up your recovery.

Combined with the stretching, you’ll find that everyday activities and your next workout will go a lot smoother with fewer aches and pains.


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