October 07, 2021 – 5:11 pm BST

Bridie Wilkins

Lower back pain is up there with one of the most annoying kinds of pain. It can feel like a mission to get rid of, while sitting at a desk only makes it worse most days. What may reassure you is that it affects a third of the UK adult population, but even more reassuring is that it is stretches for lower back pain has been proven to actually work. Osteopath Anisha Joshi tells us how and why stretching actually helps, the causes of low back pain, and the best stretches for low back pain.

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Is Stretching Good For Back Pain?

It’s a resounding yes from both Anisha and all existing research, provided your lower back pain isn’t from an acute injury. “I always say prevention is better than cure: taking care of your body reduces the chance of debilitating pain, including lower back pain, and allows you to do what you love for longer” , Anisha begins. “One important thing to remember is to stretch first thing in the morning to wake up your muscles and keep moving.” This is even more important if you work from home, because “it’s easy to lose track of how long you’ve been sitting in one place, so set an alarm clock and move around every 45 minutes”.

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Spinal health adds that stiff muscles can put strain on the spine, which in turn causes pain and restricts the spine’s natural movements. “Stretching the lower back and lower body muscles can relieve tension, relieve pain, and provide better spine support.”

Relieving lower back pain is a two-pronged practice: lengthening and strengthening the lower back muscles.

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Causes of Lower Back Pain

  • Mechanical or soft tissue injuries. Anisha says, “The most common cause of low back pain I’ve seen in the clinic is a muscle sprain. A sprain or strain on the lower back can occur suddenly or develop slowly over time due to repetitive movements. Stress usually occurs when a muscle is stretched too far and irritates the muscle itself, while a sprain is typically the result of overstretching and micro-tearing of the affected ligaments that connect the bones together. Stress and pain can occur in a number of ways, for example For example lifting heavy objects, awkward sleep or sports injuries, especially in sports with high impact. “
  • An imbalance in the piriformis muscle. Anisha explains that an imbalanced piriformis muscle – located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint – is another common cause of lower back pain, while it can also “predispose people to symptoms of sciatica.”

Back stretch for lower back pain

1. Knee-to-chest stretch

Knee to chest

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. This is called the supine position.
  2. Carefully lift one bent knee so that you can grasp your lower leg with both hands. Cross your fingers just below your knee.
  3. If you’re doing the two-legged version, bring one leg up and then the other. Lifting both legs up at the same time requires a lot of strength in the abdomen, so it is probably safer to start with one and then quickly follow up with the other, especially for sensitive backs.
  4. If you’re recording both at the same time, like the one-legged version, cross your fingers or cross your wrists between your lower legs, just below your knees.
  5. Use your hands to gently pull your bent knee or knees toward your torso.
  6. As you pull, try to relax your legs, pelvis, and lower back as much as possible. The knee-to-chest area reaches the lower back muscles better when used passively.
  7. Hold for a few seconds.
  8. Bring your leg back on the ground.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

2nd plank

(A strengthening exercise that also elongates the muscles and can act as a stretch.)


  1. Lie in the plank position and keep your body shoulder-width apart, forearms and toes on the floor.
  2. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders, but keep your shoulders relaxed and don’t grip them. your hands too much.
  3. Tighten your abs and make sure you are strong and stable.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds.

Glutes for lower back pain

3. Gluteal bridges

Gluteal bridge

  1. First, lie on your back on a soft mat with your knees bent and your legs hip-width apart.
  2. Press your heels to the floor and squeeze your glutes as you slowly lift your hips up, but not too high as you don’t want to arch your back.
  3. Gently lower your body back to the starting position and repeat the process.
  4. Do 20 repetitions.

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Yoga stretches for back pain

4. Downward facing dog

Downward dog

  1. Start kneeling on your mat with your hands just below your shoulders, fingers spread wide.
  2. Pull your toes under and contract your abs as you push your body up off the mat so that only your hands and feet are on the mat.
  3. Push through your hands, gently moving your chest towards your thighs and your heels towards the floor.
  4. Relax your head and neck and take a deep breath.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds.

5. Child pose

Child pose

  1. Get on your hands and knees on the mat.
  2. Spread your knees as wide as your mat and keep your toes on the floor with your big toes touching.
  3. Rest your stomach between your thighs and rest your forehead on the floor. Relax your shoulders, jaw, and eyes. If your forehead is not comfortable on the floor, put it on a block or two stacked fists. In the center of the forehead between the eyebrows is an energy point that stimulates the vagus nerve and supports a “rest-and-digest” response. Finding a comfortable place for your forehead is key to this comforting benefit.
  4. There are several possible arm variations. You can stretch your arms out in front of you, palms facing the floor, or place your arms next to your thighs, palms up. These are the most common variations. Alternatively, you can stretch your arms forward with your palms facing up to free your shoulders, or try bending your elbows so that your palms touch your thumbs and rest on your neck. In this position, move your elbows forward.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds.

6. Cobra


  1. Lie on your stomach.
  2. Get on your forearms, with your elbows just below your shoulders and parallel to each other.
  3. Extend your legs straight back, about hip-width apart.
  4. Spread your toes wide apart and press the tips of your feet into your mat.
  5. Straighten your legs and roll your inner thighs up and your outer thighs down. Push your tailbone towards your feet and extend your lower back.
  6. Press on your forearms to lift your chest.

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