Stretching Exercises for Your Back

Day-to-day activities can often cause tight back muscles. Over time, this can result in significant back pain and increase your risk of a back injury.

Learn some exercises to stretch all of the major muscles of your back quickly and effectively. Performing these stretches will help prevent back pain and assist in treating backaches.

Before starting any new stretching or exercise regimen, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider.

1

Knees to Chest Stretch

Woman does the double legged stretch.
bdibdus

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  1. Place your hands on the back of your thighs or below your knees and pull your legs toward your chest.
  2. Pull until you feel a gentle stretch.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat nine more times.
2

Supine Twist Stretch

A woman in the supine position twists her spine by bringing her knees to one side.
Supine spinal twist. cirkoglu

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  1. Keeping your back flat on the floor, rotate your hips to the left, lowering your legs down to the floor until you feel a gentle stretch.
  2. Hold for 15 seconds.
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Next, rotate your hips to the right, lowering your legs down to the floor until you feel a gentle stretch.
  5. Hold for 15 seconds.
  6. Return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat this sequence nine more times.
3

Prone Bridging Stretch

woman doing cobra yoga position

 Cal Crary / Taxi / Getty Images

Lie on your stomach.

  1. Prop yourself up on your elbows, extending your back.
  2. Start straightening your elbows, further extending your back.
  3. Continue straightening your elbows until you feel a gentle stretch.
  4. Hold for 15 seconds.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat nine more times.
4

Supine Abdominal Draw In Stretch

Person with light skin and short hair lies on their back with knees bent

Justin Pumfrey / Getty Images

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  1. Push the small of your back down and into the floor by tightening your lower abdominal muscles.
  2. Hold for a count of 10.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Repeat nine more times.
5

Supine Butt Lift Stretch

Woman in leggings and sleeveless top performing back bridge stretching exercise, lying on floor, side view
Ruth Jenkinson / Getty Images

Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  1. Push down through your feet as you slowly lift your bottom off the floor.
  2. Hold for a count of 10.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Repeat nine more times.
6

Cat—Cow Stretch

Cat Cow Stretch
Ann Pizer

Kneel on the floor in an all-fours position on your hands and knees.

  1. Curl your back up toward the ceiling like an angry cat.
  2. Hold for a count of 5.
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Pull your stomach down to the floor, hollowing out your back.
  5. Hold for a count of 5.
  6. Return to the starting position.
  7. Repeat nine more times.
7

Seated Forward Curl Stretch

Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.

  1. Curl your neck, upper back, and low back forward until your chest is on your thighs and you can touch the ground with your hands.
  2. Hold for a count of 10.
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Repeat nine more times.
8

Side Stretch

Stand up straight with your arms at your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart.

  1. Bend your trunk sideways to the left while sliding your left hand down your thigh and reaching your right arm over your head.
  2. Hold for a count of 10.
  3. Return to the starting position.
  4. Now, bend your trunk sideways to the right while sliding your right hand down your thigh and reaching your left arm over your head.
  5. Hold for a count of 10.
  6. Repeat this sequence nine more times.

A Word From Verywell

If you are experiencing back pain, there are some stretches that may help relieve the tightness. As with any exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor before you begin. They will tell you which stretches are suitable for your circumstance and which ones to avoid.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you loosen a tight back?

    Stretching can help to loosen up a tight back. However, you should not stretch cold muscles. Stretching cold muscles can lead to further injury. Always warm up first with five to 10 minutes of activity, such as walking. If you are unable to warm up, try applying moist heat for 15 to 20 minutes prior to stretching. 

  • How do you relieve pregnancy-related back pain?

    Back pain associated with pregnancy can be managed with lower back stretches. A 2020 study found a six-week program of lumbar stretches helped to relieve back pain in pregnant women.

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  1. Fontana Carvalho AP, Dufresne SS, Rogerio de Oliveira M, et al. Effects of lumbar stabilization and muscular stretching on pain, disabilities, postural control and muscle activation in pregnant woman with low back pain. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2020;56(3):297-306. doi:10.23736/S1973-9087.20.06086-4