Best Home Stretches For Low Back Pain

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best at home stretches for low back pain 

Who among us hasn’t experienced some degree of pain in their lower back? It’s easily the most-common complaint that I treat in my physical therapy clinic. In fact – did you know that 8 out of every 10 people will experience a significant episode of low back pain at some point in their lives? Whether you hurt from lifting your toddler, sitting long hours in a desk at work, or even something so ridiculously simple as picking up your toothbrush off the floor (I’ve actually seen it before) – no one is immune and no one likes it!

So what do we do about it? Most people just bear with the pain until it eventually goes away or bugs them so much they go in to see a healthcare professional about it. As a physical therapist I can say unequivocally that there is A LOT you can do conservatively to treat your own back pain. Today I wanted to share with you 5 of my favorite stretches you can do to mitigate your low back pain and get back on the symptom-free track. Here we go!

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Caveat to these exercises – not all low back pain is created equally. That being said certain exercises, stretches, and even positions are awesome for some problems but can be painful for others. If any of the following exercises cause an increase in your low back pain you should stop the exercise immediately. A comfortable “stretching” sensation is what we’re after here; pain is definitely not. If your back is too painful to handle these stretches I recommend you get in to see your healthcare professional immediately and seek a plan of care that is custom and unique to your individual, specific needs.

Oftentimes when I’m treating low back pain I’ll find that a patient’s hips are also particularly tight; specifically in the hamstrings (back of the leg) and through the piriformis (back of your hip – higher up in your buttocks). The goal of the following stretches is to decrease tightness in your lower back and your hips in an effort to get them moving like they should again.


All stretches should be held for 20 seconds and repeated 3 times per session. For maximum benefit perform sessions 2-3 times daily.

1. Lumbar rotation stretch

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.23.18 PMA great way to alleviate tension in your lower back and up through the outside of your hips. Lay on your back with both knees bent. Drop both your knees down to the left side until a comfortable stretch is felt in your back and right hip. Both shoulders should remain on the ground. Hold 20 seconds to the left and repeat to the right side.

2. Hamstring stretch

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.23.37 PMTight hamstrings can pull excessively on your hips and throw off the mechanics of your movements. This is a great stretch for your hammies as it keeps your back in a safe, neutral position: lay on your back with your left leg out straight. With a belt/towel/rope/sheet around your right foot, pull your right leg up towards the ceiling until a comfortable stretch is felt in your right hamstring. Hold 20 seconds; repeat 3 times. Repeat on the left.

3. Single-knee-to-chest stretch
Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.24.30 PM
One of my favorites for pain that is felt in the very lowest part of your low back / glutes area. Lay on your back with your left leg out straight. Bend your right leg and pull your knee into your chest until you feel a stretch in your right hip/lower back area. Hold 20 seconds; repeat 3 times. Repeat on the left.

4. Piriformis stretch

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.23.54 PMThere’s a muscle that sits deep to your glutes that’s called you prifiormis. I don’t know what it is about that little bugger, but 9 patients out of 10 with low back pain will have a tight piriformis. Stretch it as follows: lay on your back with both knees bent. Cross your right ankle over your left knee. Reach down and grab your left thigh behind your left knee and pull your left leg up to your left shoulder. You should feel this stretch/pull deep in the back of your right hip. Hold 20 seconds; repeat 3 times.Repeat on the left.

5. Prayer stretch / Child’s pose

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 2.23.28 PMMy favorite stretch for your entire spine. Kneel on all fours with your hands on the ground about at eye level. Keep your hands in that spot as you sit on your heels. Pull your chin into your chest. You should feel a stretch throughout your spine from your neck and upper back all the way down through your lumbar spine.

(Image credits – They’re the best site for building home exercise programs and we recommend them to all our professional colleagues.)

These are 5 of my favorite stretches for low back pain. If you’re experiencing a lot of tension/stiffness in your lumbar spine and surrounding areas give these a try – most of my patients have really good success with them!

Experiencing pain elsewhere? Did you know I’ve actually got an entire series of blog posts dedicated to pain and injury management?
Check out some of my favorites below:




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5 of the best stretches for your low back pain! From the doctor of physical therapy at

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