Stretches to Relieve Lower Back Pain – What I Do

I’ve got a herniated disk in my lower back. I’ve found that when I stretch, not only is the pain almost nil, I feel overall better in general. And no matter what, every so often my back goes out on me. When I’m stretching, the pain is less, and lasts less days as well. So, on to the stretches that I HAVE USED that have helped me reduce my lower back pain. This is the order that I do them, simply because I have found it easiest and most convenient.

Now, I admit, I don’t stretch as much as I should. I mean, it only takes about 15 minutes for my own full routine, but hey, life gets in the way. I do what I can, when I can. I prefer to stretch in the evening, but some people can’t start their day without stretching first, so do what you prefer.

I focus on my glutes/hips (butt muscles), quads (front of thigh muscles), and hamstrings (back of upper legs). I’d be willing to bet that if folks just stretched, even for 5 minutes a day, their discomfort levels will be reduced significantly. All you need is a carpet (if you don’t have carpeted floors, you might need to purchase a stretching/yoga mat…get the cheapest one you can find!!), and maybe a belt or jump rope (not needed, but helpful).

With all these exercises, I hold the position for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs. That’s my preferred way to stretch.

Remember, talk with your doctor first before trying this stuff…

GLUTE STRETCHES (lying on your back):

– Single Leg Knee to chest.

On your back, bring your right knee to your right armpit, holding your leg at the shin. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch to the left leg. Do this 2-3 times per leg.

– Single-Leg Knee across body.

Put your right knee perpendicular to your body, foot/lower leg relaxed. Place your left hand on the OUTSIDE of the right knee, and gently push it down, across your hip. I prefer to keep both of my butt-cheeks (sorry!!, that’s not the technical term!!) on the ground, as it limits the stretch to the glute only. I don’t want to twist my lower back here. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch to the left leg. Do this 2-3 times per leg.

– Cross-legged Glute stretch.

Put both your knees up, feet on the ground. Put the right ankle on your left thigh. Reach through that ‘hole’ and grab your left shin and pull your left leg/knee to your left armpit. You’ll feel this in the right glute. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch to the left leg. Do this 2-3 times per leg.

Once you do these, you’ve stretched your hips out well. Time to move on to the hamstrings. Get your rope!

HAMSTRING STRETCHES (lying on your back):

Single Leg Hamstring stretch.

Keep your left leg straight on the ground. Put the rope around your foot (I try to put the rope around the forefoot part of the foot vs. heel). Try to keep your foot FLEXED vs. toes pointed. VERY GENTLY pull the rope with your arms, stretching the leg. Keep the leg straight. Hey, I can’t even get my leg to 90 degrees (I’m not naturally flexible), so this is a humbling experience for me. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs. Do this 3 times per leg.

Cross Body Hamstring Stretch.

Wrap the rope around your foot (Same as above), and this time, move your leg (keep it straight) across your hip. You’ll feel this on the outside of your quad, and if you can’t go far, don’t worry about it. This is similar to the single leg knee stretch, but your leg is fully extended. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs. Do this 3 times per leg.

PSOAS STRETCH (on your stomach):

“Cobra” Stretch.

Flip over on your stomach. GENTLY push your upper body up, trying to straighten your arms. Don’t shrug your shoulders. If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, BACK OFF!! You’ll feel a gentle stretch in your abs, and it will feel great. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times.


Runner’s Stretch.

Now, kneel on one foot and the other knee. If needed, hold on to something to keep your balance and then push your hips forward. Make sure your forward foot is well in front of your body. You’ll feel this in the FRONT of your hip, and is a nice follow up to the Cobra, for me at least.

Single leg Quad Stretch.

Stand up, you’re almost done. Hold on to a chair for balance. Bring your heel to your glute, and grab your foot. I prefer to grab the shin bone, as I don’t want to pull the foot or ankle. Hold for 30 second, and switch. Make sure to keep your stretched quad in line with the balancing quad. Don’t have the stretched leg flying all over the place!

And now, you’re done. That won’t take you more than 15 minutes or so, and you can do it while watching your favorite TV show in the evening…or morning!

For a complete and VERY thorough guide to stretching, where you can plan a custom stretching program, please click here.

Good luck and stay well! If you feel a little more problem with your back. Your first option should be spine surgeon and specialist at Orthopedic. These doctors will guide you and provide you the best treatment possible for your back pain.


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Janice Morgan is the head writer at Gonzagala. She loves writing as much as she loves her seventeen cats! Her articles on nature are well appreciated.