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How to Stretch Out Sore Back Muscles

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Knowing some simple steps to get you out of pain and prevent future pain can be essential when suffering with sore back muscles. Committing to a daily back stretching program can mean the difference between living with pain or not. Note: These warm-ups and stretches are for sore back muscles only, and not for tears, pulls or other more serious trauma. Always check with your doctor if you have any back concerns beyond soreness.

Get the Blood Flowing

Warm up your sore back muscles before you attempt any kind of stretch.

  • Bathe - If you can, take a hot shower or bath. (Epsom salts are a great addition).
  • Microwave Bathe - If you are pressed for time, wet a washcloth or hand towel, wring it out and put it in the microwave for one minute. Being careful not to burn yourself (the middle is usually the hottest), place the warm cloth on your back.
  • Pedal - Lie on your back. Supporting your lower back with the palms of your hands, lift your legs and slowly start a forward pedaling motion. Do this for about three to five minutes. Make sure to reverse the pedaling as well.
  • Rotate - Stand straight with both feet about shoulder width apart and your legs slightly bent at the knee. Bend your elbows and in a fluid motion, turn at the waist from side to side.
  • Windmill - Extend your arm and spin it in forward and backward circles, alternating between the two.
Lower Back Stretch
  • Knee Hold - Lie on your back. Grab your knees, pull them toward your chest and breathe. Slowly push your lower back into the floor. Do this eight to ten times, making sure when you press down your lower back that you keep it there for a count of 10.
  • Side Knee Drop - In the same position as above, hold onto your knees with one hand/arm and extend the other arm, grabbing the leg of a sofa or dresser with your hand. Gently drop your knees to the opposite side. Breathe and switch sides.
  • Partner Pull - Lie on your back. As you breathe, have someone gently pull your hand and arm across your chest. Try to keep your legs straight and relax. Your upper body will roll to the side and you will feel a stretch in your lower back.
Upper and Middle Back Stretch
  • Hang in There - Hang from a chin-up bar, playground bar or any other stable object. If this hurts your shoulders beyond regular muscle stretching discomfort, then stop.
  • Counter Top Stretch - Bend at the waist and reach across a table or counter top that is wide enough to allow a full arm extension. Grab the other side and gently pull. Breathe into the stretch.
  • Partner Hang - Connect back to back with a partner, lock elbows, bend your knees and support each other, lifting them off the ground as the back stretches.
  • Traditional Toe Touch - Keep your knees straight and touch your toes. Don't worry if you can't go all the way down. As you breathe and continue each day, eventually you will reach your toes and possibly even bring your chest to your knees.

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