Most people experience back pain or tightness at some point. Whether your tightness is related to overexertion or the stress of daily living, a good stretch can help. Practice each of these mindfully. Move through each motion deliberately with attention to your body and breath. These stretches are a perfect way to practice self-care at the end of the day.
Knee to chest exercise
Start by lying on a mat or towel with legs fully extended. Now bend your knees and place your feet flat on the mat. Keeping one leg in place, bring the opposite knee in toward your chest. Clasp your hands behind that knee and hold for 15 seconds. Alternately, you can keep the opposite legs fully extended, only bending the knee when you bring it toward the chest.
Lower back twist
The lower back twist is a bonus stretch because it not only helps to your lower back but also your glutes, which often become tense or tight with back pain. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Fully extend your arms so your body forms a “T” position. Keep your shoulders on the floor and gently roll both your knees to one side. Hold for at least 20, then return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side. A pillow or bolster under your knees can help when you twist if the floor feels too far to stretch to comfortably.
Begin on the mat on all fours with palms facing down in a tabletop like position. Your knees should be below your hips and the head in a neutral position. Gaze softly at the floor. Exhale and arch your back up like a cat while lowering your head toward the floor. Inhale and come back to tabletop position. Repeat for desired number of reps.
Start by lying on your back with arms fully extended. Next bend both your knees and place your feet flat on the floor or mat, hip-width apart. Plant your feet into the floor, inhale and lift your hips up, rolling your spine off the floor. Press down into your arms and shoulders to lift your chest up. Remember to keep breathing as you hold the position for 15 to 20 seconds to start.
Passive extension or modified savasana
Start by getting a mat and a towel. Roll the towel into a bolster shape and place it under the bottom third of your shoulder blades. Lie on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees and your feet flat. Keep your arms at your sides or wherever it feels most comfortable. Be sure your lower back is planted into the mat. Place a pillow under your head if you feel any strain in your neck. Relax into the stretch, breathe, and hold the position for up to one minute.
Don’t let lower back pain derail you. Release tension or tightness and care for overexerted muscles with gentle stretches. When you take your time, and practice each stretch mindfully, you’ll benefit from a mind-body moment that boosts your overall well-being.