Back stretches can go a long way towards relieving the muscle tension that is the most common cause of back pain. Stretches for your lower back should be done carefully to avoid injury. Here are some simple lower back stretches that you can do at home; some of the stretches require a chair.
1) Cat Stretch
You'll perform this stretch on the floor, on your hands and knees. Make sure your hands are positioned immediately below your shoulders and your knees are positioned immediately below your hips.
- Start by arching your back towards the ceiling. Drop your head and pelvis. Keep your legs and arms straight and strong.
- Return to your original position.
- Drop your belly toward the floor; lift your face and hips toward the ceiling. Keep your legs and arms firm.
- Repeat this stretching sequence five to ten times, breathing slowly and deeply throughout. Inhale as you lift your face toward the ceiling; exhale as you drop your head and arch your back.
2) Seated Torso Twist
You'll perform this stretching exercise in a chair. Be careful with torso twists; if you don't do them properly, you can injure your spine. Keep your spine straight and don't force your body into the twist; allow your spine to move into the twist on its own, and only as far as is comfortable.
- Sit upright in a chair with your palms on your thighs or knees. Your head should be directly above your shoulders and you should be balanced firmly on your pelvis.
- Twist to the left. Place your right hand on the outside of your left knee, but don't use the hand to exert any pressure; simply place it there. Your spine should be doing the twisting all by itself.
- Allow your head to move into the twist as well. Once again, don't force it.
- As you twist, look as far to that side just by moving your eyes. This makes the twist more energizing.
- Hold the twist for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing deeply and fully into the lower abdomen and lower back. When you're finished, repeat the twist in the other direction.
3) Seated Forward Bend
Some people like to perform this lower back stretch while seated on the floor with their legs extended in front of them. However, if you lack flexibility in your calves, hamstrings and lower back, you're better off performing this stretch while seated in a chair.
- Sit upright in a chair; keep your spine straight and your head held erect above your shoulders.
- Place your palms in your lap. Relax your shoulders and arms.
- Place your feet at least hip width apart; you may want to separate the feet even more. If your feet are further apart than the width of your hips, turn your toes in toward one another slightly.
- Inhale; when you exhale, lean forward over your thighs. Allow your hands to dangle on either side of your feet. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck elongated.
- Breathe deeply into your lower back. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds. Come up slowly, so that you don't pass out.