Thursday, 17 March 2011

7 Stretches for a Stiff Lower Back

Below is a series of stretches that will help you if you suffer from a stiff and/or immobile lower back.

The 7 stretches in this blog post are great exercises for individuals that spend more than 3 hrs per day sitting (yes, that will cover over 90% of the population).

We all spend far to much time sitting (myself included). When you add up the activities that involve sitting it is not hard to see why lower back complaints are so common: Sitting in the car, at work, on the computer, on the sofa in the evening etc.

Sitting for extended periods causes the muscles, ligaments and joints of the spine to stiffen. In addition to that the nervous system that innervates the muscles can be come idle (or inhibited) leading to additional problems.

The good news is regular stretching can reduce much of this stiffness and reduce your pain.

Start with the stretches below aim to do them all once in the morning and once in the evening.

Perform each stretch once and hold it for 30 seconds (time the 30secs period as most people who don't use a timer vastly underestimate how long 30secs is!).

IMPORTANT: the stretches below are for individuals who are NOT suffering from acute pain. If your pain and discomfort is high please consult myself or another practitioner before starting them.

1. Cross Over
Lie on you back and keep one leg straight, bend the opposite knee to 90 degrees across your body.

Keep the opposite shoulder in contact with the ground.

You should feel a stretch in your lower back.

Perform the stretch with the opposite leg.

2. Cat Stretch
Start on all fours with your hips, knees and shoulders at 90 degrees.

Carefully arch through your lower and mid back.

Hold and repeat.

3. Heal Sit
With feet hip width apart, kneel back on to your heels with your arms outstretched.

You should feel a stretch in your lower back.

4. Knees to Chest

Bring both knees in to your chest and gently pull in with your hands to increase the stretch.

Your buttocks should lift off the ground slightly.

5. McKenzie Extension

Lie on your front carefully supporting your upper body through your arms.

Allow the lower back, buttocks and stomach to relax – hold.

6. Standing Side Bend

Stand up straight and cross your stretching leg over the other leg.

Lean the opposite way with your hands on your hips; you will feel a stretch in the side of your hip and stomach.

7. Standing Extension

Stand up straight and place your hands into your lower back.

Carefully push your hips forwards and extend through your lower back.


  1. Thanks Alex, very useful. It was amazing to find out how long a 30 seconds strech!!! feels like 30 minutes:)

    Mustafa Akincioglu

  2. I always used the standing extension after a long sit in the office. At first, I didn’t know that it was a great stretch for those who have back pain. I actually use that only when I want to stretch my sleep away. I normally use my Inversion table in the morning for my back ache for me to get through the day, but I think I will give this a try in the office as well.

    Shaunna Schumacher

  3. My mother used to tease me that I was secretly a cat when I was a kid because I used to do the cat stretch when I wake up in the morning. I was just copying my cat whenever she would stretch after waking up. I found it cute and I copied her. Now I find that it is a really good exercise for those who have backaches. I heard that stretching is also a good way to prevent back pains. I think I will go back to stretching like that again.

    Sharron Bonomo

  4. LOL here... I'm always doing stretches every time I stand up on my computer chair after a sit within 8 hours. And believe it or not, I'm doing Standing Side Bend together with a big YAWN! LOL :D

    Best regards,
    downtown seattle chiropractor

  5. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post about the stretches for for the back pain. Lower back pain is one of the most common causes of job-related disability. There are many treatments available in the market according to the cause of the back pain.
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  7. I am trying to think about new additions on these stretches but I haven't decided on the routine that I want. As of now, I'm still using my back stretching machine so I'll stick with this for a little while as it helps me with everything.

  8. Hey Michelle,
    I followed your link to that site and bought one of the machines. Man it has helped my back so much i don't even have to go to the chiropractor anymore. no offense Dr Rachel lol. But it has helped alot and was inexpensive as well. So anyway thanks.

  9. I sit at work a lot so I use these exercises to prevent back pain Exercises for Back

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  11. These are nothing but the usual Yoga poses. Visit us for real therapy techniques on back muscle pain in Canada

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  13. These days backpain is the most common problem so make sure you take a proper treatment of it before it's to late

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