Back Stretches

The following back stretches and mobility exercises are often used as part of treatment and rehabilitation programs for back problems and injuries. They are also important to include in general training programs to help prevent injury and even improve sports performance.

If you have back pain or any kind of back injury then it is important to get professional advice as some back exercises may not be suitable.

Lower Lumbar Rotation

This exercise aims to increase the flexibility of the lower lumbar muscles.

  • The weight of the leg provides helps stretch the muscle, but it can be increased by using your hand.
  • Lay flat on the back with both legs out straight. Bring one knee up towards the chest.
  • Then take it across the body, trying to get the inner knee to touch the floor on the other side of the body.
  • The hand can be used to increase the rotation if necessary.

Lower Back Stretch

Stretching the muscles of the lower back can provide a great deal of relief to back pain sufferers.

  • This lower back exercise targets the erector spine.
  • Lay on the floor on your back. Bring your knees up to your chest and use your arms to pull them in further.
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds.

Variations: Perform one leg at a time or add rotation to further stretch gluteus medius.


Latissimus dorsi

The latissimus dorsi muscles are regularly left out of warm up routines. However, all it takes is a simple exercise reaching up, or it can be done kneeling on the floor.

  • Stand upright with your arms above your head. Reach up as high as possible.
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds.
  • Variation is to hold onto a vertical bar or post and lean back.

Cat Stretch

Back stretches - cat stretch

This exercises is similar to those used in yoga.

  • It targets the multifidus and erector spinae muscles.
  • On all fours on the floor, arch your back up as high as possible.
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds then relax.
  • This can also be done with the back slump stretch.

Lumber rotation

Back stretches and mobility

Rotation mobility exercise for the lower back.

  • This exercise targets the multifidus, internal and external obliques.
  • Stand upright with your arms folded across your chest. Rotate your shoulders around to one side.
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds.

Side Stretch

The classic side stretch for all the muscles on the side of the body, from arm down to the hip.

  • Muscles stretched are the quadratus lumborum, internal and external obliques.
  • Stand up and reach above the head with one arm. Lean over to the opposite side.
  • Hold for between 10 and 30 seconds. Change sides.
This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.

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