Stretching increases blood flow in the muscles. Stretching releases endorphins, which boost one’s mood while reducing pain.

Some areas of the body, however, are easier to stretch. Hamstrings are popular muscle groups that can be stretched. Triceps, neck muscles, and quads are also relatively easy to target. Lower back muscles can be more difficult to stretch, especially if you have lower back pain.

Experts offer their advice on how to stretch your lower back and when not to.

The body has more flexibility, better blood circulation and a greater range of motion. These benefits are especially beneficial for the lower back, which is known to be stiff and where muscles tend to tense. Loren Fishman MD, professor of physical medicine at Columbia University, says that even though a person may have supple arms and legs, their backs may be stiff. Lower back muscles include extensor, flexor, and oblique muscle groups. They also include the erector spineae, the muscle group which helps support the spine, and glute muscle groups.Sitting or excessive bending or leaning forward can cause back pain. Frost says that stretching through such pains is fine, as long as it’s done within certain limits. Frost says that a mild increase in pain is acceptable as long as it is mild and doesn’t last more than 20-30 minutes after stretching. “If you experience more intense pain after stretching and it continues for hours, it is best to stop and consult a professional,” says he.

Remember that certain medical conditions may require you to avoid lower-back stretches entirely. Fishman says that these include sacroiliac derangement, the piriformis and scoliosis. Lower back stretches can help with other conditions, but they usually require special techniques in order to avoid harming the affected area. Fishman explains that the best way to stretch a lower back depends on the condition of it. Someone with spinal stenosis, for example, will need to stretch his back muscles differently than someone who has a herniated disk.

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