Stretching Exercises for the Back

While other stretching exercises for the back on this site are done standing (see bottom of page), here are 3 back stretching exercises that are done squatting and sitting.

The first one is a stretching exercise for the lower back that also loosens the hips.

The second exercise has similar benefits to the first one, while the third one is a stretching exercise for the back and neck.

If you have, or are prone to, back or hip problems though, you should check with your health professional before trying them.

Stretching Exercises for the Back

1. For lower back and hips: Squat with your feet flat on the floor and your arms on the inside of your legs. Interlock your fingers and keep your arms fairly straight and pointing to or resting on the floor. Also keep your back straight. Bend your neck slightly towards your chest - feel your back stretching. Initially, you may find it difficult to keep your balance, so watch you don't fall backwards - squat with your back to a wall just in case. This is an effective stretching exercise for your lower back in particular, that also releases tension in the low back area. This exercise also opens up and loosens your hips.

2. For spine and hips: Sit on the floor with your knees against your chest and your arms wrapped around them. Keep your back straight. Gently rock backwards and forwards with your feet off the ground, but not so much that you lose balance. This exercise lengthens your spine and loosens and opens your hips. Continue for a couple of minutes. Do it 2-3 times a day.

3. For spine and neck: Sit on the floor with your back straight, knees bent and your soles together on the floor in front of you. Grasp your toes with both hands and pull your feet in as close to your butt as you comfortably can. Let your knees naturally fall out to the sides. From this starting position there are two variations of the exercise.

  • Variation 1: This is an excellent stretching exercise for the back. Take a slow, deep breath. As you exhale bend forward from your lower back. As you do so, drop your head towards your chest to stretch your upper back and neck. Feel your entire spine stretching. Inhale as you raise your head, lengthen your spine and return to the upright position. Repeat several times, 2-3 times a day.

  • Variation 2: Another effective stretching exercise for the back that loosens and limbers your neck and upper back in particular. Take a slow, deep breath. As you exhale bend forward from your lower back, but instead of dropping your head to your chest, as above, turn your head to the right and look over your shoulder. It's important to turn your lower back first, then your mid back, then upper back and neck.

    Inhale as you return to face front on, then exhale as you turn to look over your left shoulder. Once again, rotate your lower back first, then your mid back and upper back and neck. Inhale as you return to face the front, then straighten back up to the starting position. Repeat several times, 2-3 times a day. This exercise stretches your spine and neck, and your inner thighs and groin.

More Lower Back Exercises

Breath slowly, smoothly and deeply through your nose while doing the exercises.

4. Stretching exercise for the back: Lie on your back on a firm bed or the floor. Bring your knees up until they're above your abdomen. Spread your knees a little and grab the inside of your shins just below your knees, or the inside of your ankles if you can. Inhale. As you exhale let your knees naturally fall out to the side. Focus on your lower back. Feel your inner thighs stretching and your lower back relaxing. Hold for a few minutes. Repeat several times a day. One of the best stretching exercises for the back (esp. lower back), as it stretches and relaxes your iliopsoas muscles, tension in which is a common cause of low back pain.

5. Lower back relaxer: Lie flat on your back on a firm bed or the floor. Bend your knees and slide your feet up till they are on the floor near your backside. Inhale. As you exhale, gently press your lower back into the bed or floor. Hold for several seconds, then release. Repeat 3 or 4 times, several times a day. Although more of a muscle relaxing technique, it enhances the effects of the above stretching exercises for the back.

For more stretching exercises for the back, including low back stretches, and upper back and neck stretches, see:

Forward-Backward Bend
Back Arch
Back Twist
Neck Twist + Acupressure
Upper Back Loosener



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