Work Wellness

8 Easy Back Stretches to Help with Back Pain

Avatar of Colby Maxwell Colby Maxwell | Sep 7, 2020
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For those of us who work long hours sitting in front of a computer screen, it’s especially important to look after our bodily health. Many studies show that sedentary work can have long-term health impacts on office workers. Fortunately, these days there are lots of ergonomic solutions to help with these common problems.

An ergonomic chair can make a huge difference for those who sit for long hours. A standing desk is a great way to introduce flexibility and the option to adjust your position throughout the day.

Regardless of the tools you use, getting up and moving occasionally can make a huge difference, and at-home or in-office stretches are a great way to keep your body happy and limber throughout the day. With a daily “lockdown routine” that moves you from the bed to the desk, to the couch, and then back to the bed, these stretches for back pain are more important than ever!

1. Knee to chest

Knee to chest exercisesKnee to chest is one of the simplest and most effective lower back stretches out there. It activates your entire lower body and is a great exercise to start developing core strength as well! Here are the steps:

  • Lay on your back with bent knees and your feet flat
  • With both hands, grab one of your legs just below the knee, weaving your fingers together
  • Keeping your other foot flat, pull your knee up until you feel your lower back stretching
  • Hold the position for about a minute as your body relaxes
  • Release your knee and lower your leg back down
  • Repeat with your other leg

2. Trunk rotation

This is another good core exercise! Known as a “trunk rotation,” this back stretching exercise will activate your abs, sides, and back. Here is how to do it:

  • Lie on your back, perfectly flat
  • Bring both of your knees up and bend your legs at a 90-degree angle (if possible). This should look like you are laying down but sitting in an invisible chair
  • Extend your arms to the side, palm down
  • With your knees together, roll both knees and legs to your left side as far as is comfortable. Hold for 20 seconds
  • Return to the center with your knees together
  • Repeat on the other side, keeping your knees together the whole time
  • Do five cycles of left to right, hitting each side at least five times

3. Cat-cow pose

Cat-cow pose exercisesEven with a funny name, this backstretch is no joke! It increases flexibility and feels great. Here is how to do it:

  • Get on your hands and knees, keeping your knees hip-width apart, staying relaxed
  • Pull your belly button towards your spine, arching your back like a rainbow while your head lolls forward. This is called the “cat” and looks like a cat stretching
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds
  • Return to the middle position, relaxed
  • Lift your head and tilt your pelvis out towards your feet, making your back arch towards the ground. Your back should look like an “upside-down” rainbow or a smile. This is known as the “cow” position
  • Hold for another 10 seconds
  • Return to the center and repeat 15 times

4. Pelvic tilt

Releasing tension is the name of the game when it comes to back pain. The pelvic tilt is easy and does wonder for a tight back. If you don’t know how to stretch your back with pelvic tilt exercise, follow these steps:

  • Lie on your back with your feet flat, knees bent, and hands flat by your side (similar to the starting position of the knee to chest)
  • Slowly arch your back, pushing your stomach out
  • Keep arched off the ground for 5-10 seconds and then relax
  • Now push your pelvis up and tighten your back and butt, feeling your back press into the ground
  • Hold for 10 seconds
  • Repeat the cycle 15 times

5. Seat forward bend

seat forward bend positionHamstrings are some of the strongest muscles in the human body. They can lift 70% of your quad muscles! Unfortunately, they can also create tension and lower back pain. Here is how you can help:

  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you
  • Using a hand towel, grab either end and loop it around the heels of your feet
  • Bend forward, bringing your belly closer to your thighs
  • With a straight back, grab the towel and pull your stomach closer to your thighs
  • Feel the tension in your lower back and in your hamstrings
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times

6. Flexion rotation

This is another stretch for your lower back and butt! It is a great way to feel a stretch. Here is how you do it:

  • Lie on your left side with both legs straight
  • Bend your right leg and hook it behind your left knee
  • Grab your right knee with your left hand
  • Using your left hand as leverage, pull your right knee towards the floor and try to touch your right shoulder to the floor
  • Hold for 5 seconds and slowly release
  • Repeat 10 times on each side

7. Supported bridge 

Supported bridge exercisesIf you have a foam roller or cushion handy, this is a wonderful way to get a good stretching exercise! It allows your spine to decompress and feels incredible. Here is how:

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat
  • Lift your hips by pushing on the floor with your feet and shoulder blades. When lifted, place the roller at the top of your hips
  • Completely relax your body (especially your back and spine) and allow the roller to hold you up
  • Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 5 times. You should actively feel your spine decompress.

8. Belly flops

This is another spine decompression backstretch! Like the supported bridge, this one requires a rolled towel or cushion to complete. Her is how you do it:

  • Roll up the towel and place it in front of you, so you are looking at its long side
  • Lie on the towel with your belly towards the ground. Your hip bones should be pressed into the roll as support
  • Turning your head to whatever side is most comfortable, completely relax your body
  • Hold for a minute and repeat 3 times

Conclusion

Working from home can cause us to live less active lives, but you don’t have to let it! These stretches should help with long days standing or sitting, but the best thing you can do is get regular exercise. Exercise and stretching help with more than just back pain - they help with productivity, happiness, and so much more. Happy working!

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WRITTEN BYColby Maxwell

Colby Maxwell is a writer based out of Charlotte, NC. He loves learning, science, and writing things that people love to read.

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