How do you stretch your back when it hurts?

Answered by Frank Schwing

When it comes to stretching your back to relieve pain, one effective exercise is the supine figure-four stretch. This stretch targets the muscles in your hips and glutes, which can in turn help alleviate tension in your lower back.

To perform this stretch, start by lying on your back with both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Take your right ankle and place it at the base of your left thigh, just above the knee. Your right knee should be pointing out to the side, creating a “figure-four” shape with your legs.

Next, reach your hands behind your left thigh and gently pull your left leg towards your chest. The goal is to feel a gentle stretch in your right hip and glute area. You can adjust the intensity of the stretch by pulling your leg closer or releasing the tension slightly.

Hold this position for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, focusing on deep and relaxed breathing. As you hold the stretch, try to relax your muscles and allow your body to sink into the stretch. You may feel a mild discomfort, but it should not be painful. If you experience any sharp or severe pain, stop the stretch immediately.

Repeat the stretch on the other side by placing your left ankle at the base of your right thigh and pulling your right leg towards your chest. Remember to maintain proper breathing and relaxation throughout the stretch.

In addition to the supine figure-four stretch, there are other exercises and stretches that can help alleviate back pain. These include:

1. Cat-Camel Stretch: Start on your hands and knees, and alternately arch your back up towards the ceiling (like a cat) and then let your belly drop towards the floor (like a camel). Repeat this movement for several repetitions, focusing on the fluidity and control of your spine.

2. Child’s Pose: Begin on your hands and knees, then sit back onto your heels while reaching your arms forward. Allow your forehead to rest on the floor and feel the gentle stretch in your lower back and hips. Take slow, deep breaths and hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

3. Seated Forward Fold: Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Slowly hinge forward from your hips, reaching towards your toes or shins. Keep your back straight and avoid rounding your shoulders. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing deeply.

4. Cobra Stretch: Lie on your stomach with your hands placed directly under your shoulders. Press through your hands and lift your upper body off the floor, arching your back gently. Hold for a few deep breaths, then release back down.

Remember, it’s important to listen to your body and not push yourself into any painful or uncomfortable positions. If you have any pre-existing conditions or concerns, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise or stretching routine.

In my personal experience, incorporating regular stretching and movement into my daily routine has helped alleviate back pain and improve overall flexibility and mobility. It’s important to find a balance between rest and activity, and to listen to your body’s needs. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your stretches as you become more comfortable.