Back pain affects millions of people and can negatively impact daily life. While medications may temporarily alleviate some of the discomfort, developing core strength and flexibility through targeted exercises and stretches can provide lasting relief by addressing the underlying imbalances causing the pain.
This article will explore 12 effective exercises and stretches to reduce back pain and improve mobility. Mix and match them to create a customized routine. As with any new exercise program, consult your doctor first if you have any concerns.
The child’s pose is a resting yoga pose that gently stretches the lower back muscles.
- Kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart. Bring your toes together behind you.
- Fold your torso over your thighs and reach your arms forward fully extended. Rest your forehead on the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds and focus on breathing deeply. Repeat 2-3 times.
This pose helps open up the lower back. Use it anytime your back feels tight.
Knee to Chest
Drawing your knees into your chest helps alleviate tension in the lower back.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Bring one knee toward your chest and clasp your hands under the knee. Gently pull the knee in as close as you comfortably can.
- Hold for 20 seconds then lower the leg back down. Switch legs and repeat. Do 2-3 reps per leg.
Moving between cat and cow poses gently mobilizes the spine.
- Get on your hands and knees with a flat back.
- Breathe in and arch your back upward, dropping your belly (cow pose).
- Exhale and round your back upward while pulling your belly button in (cat pose).
- Repeat, fluidly moving between the poses for 10 cycles.
Keep the movements slow and controlled. Cat-cow pose relieves tension.
The bridge pose strengthens and stretches muscles around the spine.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart on the floor. Place your arms at your sides.
- Press your feet down and lift your hips up into a bridge position. Clasp your hands together under your back.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds, then lower back down. Repeat 2-3 times.
Remember to keep your upper back and shoulders on the floor. Bridge pose improves extension and engages core muscles.
Planks build total body strength to support the spine.
- Start in pushup position with your hands under your shoulders. Engage your core and ensure your back is flat.
- Hold the plank position for 20-30 seconds. Make sure you continue breathing.
- Repeat 2-3 times. Work up to holding 60 seconds.
Proper plank form prevents hunching the back. Perform planks to strengthen your back day-to-day.
Isolating the pelvis realigns the lower back.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Place your arms at your sides.
- Use your core muscles to gently tilt your pelvis down, flattening your back against the floor. Hold 5 seconds.
- Release the tilt and return to neutral spine. Repeat 10-15 times.
Focus on using your muscles rather than momentum. Pelvic tilts improve posture.
Twisting stretches muscles along the spine.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Keep your spine upright.
- Place your left hand on the floor behind your hips. Put your right hand on your left knee.
- Inhale and on the exhale twist your torso and look over your left shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat on the opposite side, twisting to the right. Complete 2-3 reps per side.
Take it slow and keep your movements controlled. Twists release tight obliques and back muscles.
Downward Facing Dog
The downward dog is a keystone yoga pose that decompresses the spine.
- Start on your hands and knees. Curl your toes under and lift your knees off the floor.
- Push your hips up and back until your body forms an inverted "V" shape. Hold for 30 seconds.
- Release back to the floor and repeat 2-3 times.
Keep your movements smooth. Let gravity gently stretch your back muscles.
Supermans strengthen the lower back extensor muscles.
- Lie face down with your arms extended overhead and legs straight behind you.
- Simultaneously raise your arms, legs, and chest off the floor. Reach opposite arm and leg away from each other.
- Hold for 2 seconds then gently lower back down. Complete 10-15 reps.
Work up to holding the superman pose for 5-10 seconds. This exercise prevents back pain from weak extensors.
This core strengthening move engages back muscles.
- Lie on your stomach with your legs extended, feet together, and arms overhead.
- Contract your glutes and lower back to lift your head, chest, arms, and legs up off the floor.
- Hold briefly then lower back down. Aim for 10-12 reps.
Keep your movements controlled. Press ups strengthen the back to maintain proper alignment.
Incorporating a mix of stretches, strengthening exercises, and core engagement into your routine can help reduce back pain. Work with your doctor or physical therapist to develop a program tailored to your specific condition and capabilities. With consistency, these movements promote a healthy, flexible spine.