4 Stretches to Alleviate Lower Back Pain

woman lying on back pulling knees to chest in lower back stretch for pain relief

Therapeutic Associates

Back pain is a common issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It can have a significant impact on our daily lives and can be difficult to manage. When dealing with lower back pain, it is not uncommon for individuals to hypothesize about the cause, often leading to questions about sciatica, herniated disc, pulled back muscles, muscle strain and muscle spasms. While it’s easy to speculate, the best resource for determining the source of back pain is an assessment by a physical therapist. Finding relief for lower back pain can be as simple as incorporating stretching into your daily routine. My go-to “Fab Four” includes cat-cow stretch, child’s pose, bridge pose and knee-to-chest stretch.

How does a PT diagnose lower back pain?

Lower back pain can be the result of a traumatic injury or accident, but it’s often something that develops over time.

As movement experts, physical therapists will:

  • listen to your history
  • ask a lot of questions about your pain
  • assess your posture and how you walk
  • test your strength, flexibility and range of motion
  • work with you to create a custom treatment plan
  • refer you to a specialist if necessary

6 common causes of lower back pain:

  • Poor posture can be the result of many things, including how you spend your workday. Ergonomics make a big difference if you’re at a desk most of the day!
  • Spending excessive amounts of time in a single position is detrimental! Combat back pain and find other success with movement.
  • When one muscle is short and tight and another is long and weak, the imbalance can manifest as pain!
  • Overuse injuries are also known as repetitive stress injuries and occur when we perform the same action over and over again. Overuse injuries in young athletes are common.
  • Low back pain can be the result of acute traumatic events ranging from falling to being in a car crash.

How do I know if my back pain is serious?

If your back pain is the result of an acute injury or traumatic accident, you should seek medical care. Additionally, if you’re experiencing breathing problems, loss of bladder or bowel control or numbness that makes it hard to walk along with your back pain, your situation could be urgent, and we recommend seeing your doctor right away.

Fortunately, most back pain can be addressed through physical therapy and at-home self-care. There are some simple stretches that can be done at home or the office to help alleviate pain and improve mobility.

Benefits of stretching

Stretching is an important part of maintaining healthy muscles and can be beneficial for lower back health. Stretching can help to reduce muscle tension and muscle spasms

Stretching helps to increase flexibility and range of motion in the muscles and ligaments. It can also help to improve posture, decrease your risk of injury and improve your quality of life. 

The Fab Four lower back stretches

These four stretches are my top picks to help alleviate back pain. They can be easily done at home, and I commonly recommend patients add them to their self-care routine at least once a day. To avoid strain or injury, include a simple dynamic warm-up to get your blood pumping and your muscles warm.

Cat-Cow Stretch

This stretch helps to increase flexibility and mobility in the spine.

    • Begin on your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position.
    • On inhalation, arch your spine up and tuck your chin to your chest.
    • On exhalation, round your back and tilt your head back.
    • Do this for 10-15 repetitions. 

Child's Pose

This stretch helps to increase flexibility and mobility in the spine.

    • Begin on your hands and knees.
    • Lower your bottom to your heels and stretch your arms out in front of you.
    • You can also roll your arms out to the side to deepen the stretch.
    • Hold this pose for up to 60 seconds. 

Bridge Pose

This pose helps to strengthen the core and gluteal muscles while stretching the lower back.

    • Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    • Lift your hips up and squeeze your glutes.
    • Hold this pose for 2 seconds, then slowly lower your hips back down. 

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

This stretch helps to increase flexibility and mobility in the spine.

    • Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
    • Pull one knee up towards your chest and hold it there for 10-15 seconds.
    • Repeat with the other side. 

Some other simple stretches for the hips and lower back that you can do at home include standing hip flexor stretches, standing or seated hamstring stretches, and lying hip rotator stretches. You can also perform a standing twist, which helps to stretch the lower back muscles and improve your spinal flexibility. When stretching, try to keep your movements slow and gentle, and only stretch to a comfortable point. Remember to take your time and be gentle with your body, and you will start to notice the benefits in no time!

woman walking dog

Get pain relief today!

You may be able to find relief from back pain and improve your overall quality of life through some simple changes to your lifestyle, including adding a back stretching routine to your days. However, if the pain persists or worsens, it is important to see a physical therapist for further assessment and treatment.

Blog Posts You May Be Interested In

If you are among the majority of the population that experiences low back pain, remember that physical therapy should be your first line of defense to recovery so you can get back to doing what you enjoy!
back pain, Exercise, low back pain, physical therapy
Whether it's preventing surgery or optimizing post-surgery outcomes, physical therapy offers hope for those grappling with hip pain, offering a path toward a more active, pain-free life.
hip pain, injury prevention, Post-surgical
Why would a sit-up or other workout produce testicular pain in men? Unfortunately, for many men, testicular pain goes undiagnosed.
pelvic floor, physical therapy

How can we help you today?

Quick Links:

How can we help you today?