As an important part of your core and the foundation for your body, your back plays a major role in good health and well-being. Sore muscles and lower back pain can be devastating and can prevent you from completing even simple daily tasks. Although back pain may not be completely preventable, simple daily stretches can keep your muscles limber and reduce your chances of developing problems. There are several yoga poses and athletic stretches that specifically target your back muscles.
Get on all fours. On the floor, make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists and your hips are over your knees. Your back should be straight and flat, like a table.
Cat Stretch. Take a deep breath in and arch your spine toward the ceiling. Imagine bringing your chest and hips toward each other and forming a dome with your back.
Cow Stretch. As you breathe out, lift your chest and hips toward the ceiling and lower your spine to form a “U” with your back.
Alternate the stretches several times. Continue slowly breathing and moving fluidly between the two poses.
Kneel on the floor. For extra cushioning, you can put a mat or folded towel under your knees. Separate your legs a little bit and sit your hips back until you're sitting on the backs of your heels. Your feet should be slightly turned inward with your toes pointed at the wall behind you.
Walk your hands forward. While you keep your back straight, place both of your hands lightly on the floor in front of you and walk them straight out until your chest is touching your knees. Keep inching your hands forward until they are as stretched out as possible. Rest your forehead lightly on the floor in front of you.
Focus on rounding out your lower back to promote a deep lower back stretch. Take deep breathes and relax as you hold this position.
- If you are doing back stretches to treat or prevent lower back pain, you should stretch your hamstrings as well. Since your hamstrings attach to the lower part of your pelvis, tight hamstring can be a cause of lower back pain. To stretch, sit up straight on the floor with both of your legs out in front of you. Exhale as you lean forward from your hips and reach for your toes until you feel a pull in the back of your legs. Ease into the stretch a little more each time you exhale and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
- If you are experiencing moderate to severe back pain or have a diagnosed back condition, check with your doctor or physical therapist before you do any back exercises or stretches. Always stretch gently and pay attention to the limits of your body.
Jilana Dennis is a health and fitness writer based out of San Antonio, Texas. Dennis is a nationally certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise and holds a B.S in exercise science from Illinois State University.