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13 Potent Stretches For Lower Back Pain That Actually Work

Here are 13 of the best, most potent stretches I have found for lower back pain relief. Most of these I used to get out of crippling lower back pain years ago, and several are in our own Flexible Back stretching program.

Take each exercise below as a potential source of pain relief, with a grain of salt. I can't tell you which stretches will work best for your body and your case, but I can guarantee some of these will help you relieve pressure, strain, and pain in your lower back. Each exercise releases muscle tension in a particular region that can contribute to lower back pain when tight.

I would encourage you to attempt each stretch before writing it off - no matter how strange it looks - because it may be a missing link between you and a pain-free lower back.

 

The 13 Stretches For Lower Back Pain:

  1. Standing Psoas Stretch
  2. Couch Stretch
  3. World's Greatest Stretch
  4. Elephant Walk
  5. Standing Single Leg Hamstring Stretch
  6. Pancake Stretch
  7. Seated Figure 4
  8. Pigeon Stretch
  9. Cat-Cow Stretch
  10. Mid Back Twist
  11. Arched Mid Back Opener
  12. Back Extension
  13. QL Stretch

As you dive into these 13 stretches, chances are you will find 3-5 that really help. These 3-5 stretches are what you can take away and work into your routine 4-5 times per week to work towards lower back pain relief as soon as possible.

13 Stretches For Lower Back Pain Relief

Me, a few months after not being able to touch my toes and applying these principles.

 

1. Standing Psoas Stretch

The Psoas muscle is one of the biggest contributors to lower back pain in 2023. Sitting in particular shortens the Psoas muscle, which directly wrenches on the poor lower back as soon as you stand back up from sitting. Stretch the Psoas muscle as in the right portion of the thumbnail above, and watch the video below for a more in-depth walkthrough

Video Reference: Psoas Muscle Release 3:09

Article Reference: Psoas Muscle Pain

 

2. Couch Stretch

Couch Stretch For Lower Back Pain

The couch stretch is a more advanced version of the standing Psoas stretch above. This requires more mobility in the quad muscles, but if you can get into this position and slow the breath - the results are quick. Check out the video below for a progression to work up to this advanced variation of the couch stretch.

Video Reference: Couch Hip Flexor Stretches

Article Reference: n/a

 

3. World's Greatest Stretch

World's Greatest Stretch For Lower Back Pain

Yes, the "World's Greatest Stretch" is the official name for this exercise. One reason I love this stretch for lower back pain relief is it allows the spine to stay neutral, which reduces risk. You should feel a potent stretch in the hip flexor muscles on one side and in the upper hamstrings/glute muscles on the other side. (Also see our page Can Hip Flexors Cause Back Pain?)

Video Reference: n/a

Article Reference: n/a

 

4. Elephant Walk Exercise

The Elephant Walk exercise is hands-down one of the most potent, lengthening exercises you can do. The Elephant Walk stretches the hamstrings, lower back, glutes, and even calves in an extremely straining manner when done correctly. After just 2-3 sets of the Elephant Walk, you should feel considerably more flexible.

Video Reference: Elephant Walk Exercise Video

Article Reference: Elephant Walk Exercise Article

 

5. Standing Single-Leg Hamstring Stretch

Hamstring/Glute Stretch For Lower Back Pain Relief

When this hamstring/glute stretch is done in a particular way, it can work wonders on the lower back. If I am pressed for time, this is often the only exercise I will do to mobilize and relieve the lower back.

The red circle illustrates where we want to feel the stretch - in the glutes. By emphasizing the glute muscles in this fashion, you can achieve a high amount of tension relief that directly contributes to lower back pain.

Video Reference: Posterior Pelvic Tilt (Stretch 1) 2:20

Article Reference: Posterior Pelvic Tilt Exercises

 

6. Pancake Stretch

Pancake Stretch For Lower Back Pain Relief

The Pancake stretch is another personal favorite way to lengthen the adductor (groin) muscles and hamstrings. I do not have much scientific biomechanical backing on why this one works - I can only testify that it opens the hips and just feels great.

Video Reference: n/a

Article Reference: n/a

 

7. Seated Figure 4 Stretch

Seated Piriformis Stretch For Lower Back Pain

This seated figure 4 stretch is a great safe and potent way to stretch the glute muscles that can contribute to lower back pain. I wrote a full article on this exercise called the seated Piriformis stretch - follow the link below to see more images, variations, and to learn more.

Video Reference: n/a

Article Reference: Seated Piriformis Stretch

 

8. Pigeon Stretch

Pigeon Stretch For Lower Back Pain Pigeon Stretch 2 For Lower Back Pain

The pigeon stretch at two angles above. The pigeon stretch attacks the glute muscles and each orientation above emphasizes the stretch on slightly different muscles.

Video Reference: Posterior Pelvic Tilt (Stretch 2) 3:50

Article Reference: Posterior Pelvic Tilt Exercises

 

9. Cat-Cow

Cat Cow Stretch For Lower Back Pain Relief

The Cat-Cow is an awesome spinal mobility stretch for lubricating and loosening up the mid back. A tight mid back is a recipe for a painful lower back because the less mobility the mid back has the more strain the lower back has to take up when doing any physical activity. (Also read more about Erector Spinae Stretch!)

Video Reference: Rhomboid Pain 1:22

Article Reference: Rhomboid Muscle Pain

 

10. Mid Back Twist

Mid Back Twist Stretch For Lower Back Pain

The mid-back twist is another awesome spinal mobility exercise. As I mentioned before and will continue to mention - the more mobility you have in the mid and upper back, the less pressure and pain there will be in your lower back.

Video Reference: Rhomboid Pain 0:55

Article Reference: Rhomboid Muscle Pain

 

11. Arched Mid Back Opener

Arched Mid Back Opener Stretch For Lower Back Pain

The arched mid-back opener is another great spinal stretch for correcting poor posture that can result in back pain. The more mobility you have in the mid and upper back, the less pressure the lower back takes up day to day.

Video Reference: Mid Back Exercises (3:28)

Article Reference: n/a

 

12. Back Extension

Stretches For Lower Back Pain

The back extension exercise is great if you have a flat lower back or spend a lot of time sitting. This stretch helps undo the unhealthy rounded-back spine that we can fall into from sedentary lifestyles.

Video Reference: Posterior Pelvic Tilt (Stretch 3) 5:11

Article Reference: Flexible Back Stretching Program

 

13. QL Stretch

QL Stretch For Lower Back Pain Relief

This QL stretch targets to Quadratus Lumborum (QL) muscle in the lower back. Check out the video below for a guide on how to perform a QL stretch safely and potently for the lower back, as well as QL muscle won't release and QL strengthening exercises which act as a bulletproofing agent to your lower back health.

Video Reference: QL Stretch

Article Reference: QL Muscle Stretch

 

Conclusion: 13 Stretches For Lower Back Pain Relief

Thank you for reading my opinion on the best 13 stretches for lower back pain relief. Lower back pain is the worst, and we are here to help you get out of it as soon as possible. Check out the resources below for more!

One important note: If NO STRETCH WORKS, YOU LIKELY NEED MASSAGE AND STRENGTHENING. Consult a professional before trying any of these stretches, and ask if pairing these with massage or strengthening techniques may help.

Additional Resources:

Back Pain Relief Articles (free)

Back Pain Relief Shop (not free)

YouTube Videos On Back Pain (free)

 

comment 1 comment

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David marsh calendar_today

Great Post! A set of 13 potent stretches for lower back pain can be a valuable resource for individuals seeking natural and proactive ways to manage discomfort, improve flexibility, and enhance their overall quality of life.

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