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4 Effective Erector Spinae Stretches for a Flexible and Stronger Back

To start off our journey towards improved flexibility and better back health, we cannot underestimate the importance of a good erector spinae stretch. I hope you’re here to discover effective stretches that alleviate tension and empower you toward a more limber and vibrant lifestyle. If this is the case, you’ve come to the right page.

Whether you’re feeling a bit stiff or experiencing full-blown episodes of pain, this can be a challenge that impacts your daily life. Let’s explore some awesome erector spinae stretches to add to your routine along with some other insights into the erector spinae itself. 

Erector Spinae Stretch: 4 Effective Stretches to Try at Home

  1. Child’s Pose Stretch
  • Begin on your hands and knees
  • Lower your hips back towards your heels while reaching your arms forward
  • Lengthen and stretch the entire spine 
  • Check out the video below for a great visual on how to do it. 

  1. Seated Forward Bend
  • Sit with your legs extended
  • Reach towards your toes while keeping your spine straight
  • You will feel the stretch in your spine and hamstrings
  • Check out this video on how to do it. 

  1. Cat-Cow Stretch
  • Begin on hands and knees
  • Arch your back up (like a cat)
  • Dip your spine downward (cow)
  • Repeat as desired 
  1. Twisting Chair Pose
  • In chair pose, twist your upper body to one side
  • Rotate and switch sides

Some tips: 

  • Remember to warm up before attempting to do stretches
  • Do stretch gently to avoid any strain 
  • If you’re unsure about doing stretches due to pain or other health conditions, consult your healthcare provider

Erector Spinae Stretch: Function 

So we’ve come this far, and now we can learn more about what the erector spinae muscles do. According to a published article in the Archives of Rehabilitation Research and Clinical Translation, “The erector spinae muscles stabilize and mobilize the lumbar spine while keeping the body upright during forward propulsion. Any sport that involves high velocities and twisting movements such as soccer and dancing can affect the role the erector spinae muscles play in stabilizing the spine.” [1] 

Just like most of our articles about muscles and strain conclude, this article also reports that strengthening muscles such as those of your erector spinae (and other core muscles) can help significantly reduce your risk for injury. [1] 

So yes, while most of us would like to stay healthy, flexible, and free of injury, the overall status of our erector spinae (as the group of muscles along the spine) will affect our ability to maintain an upright posture and our spine’s natural curvature. 

Anatomically speaking, another article published in the Spine Journal states that the erector spinae muscle group has multiple attachment sites along the spine and is clinically important to look at in patients with lower back pain. This is because they connect to the lumbar vertebrae and directly act to extend the lumbar spine. [2] This study goes on to explore the relevance between lower back pain and easily fatigued back muscles via electromyographic (EMG) signal procedures. 

Erector Spinae Stretch: Anatomy

Now let’s take a deeper look into the anatomy. The erector spinae is a group of muscles along your spine and has three main columns/bundles:

  1. Iliocostalis: This is the outermost column and runs from the pelvis to the ribs. This functions in extending and laterally flexing the spine. 
  2. Longissimus: This is the middle column of muscles that extends along the spine which works to extend and rotate the vertebral column. 

  3. Spinalis: This is the most inner column (running closest along the spine) and works to extend and stabilize. 

 Recap of functions:

  • Spinal support
  • Maintain upright posture
  • Contribute to back movements

Erector Spinae Stretch FAQ

How do I loosen my erector spinae?

Just as it was briefly explored on this page, loosening your muscles involves incorporating gentle stretches and exercises into your routine. This will take consistency and listening to your body. If you start with the stretches mentioned above, you can easily find other stretches to try to increase your variety. Remember to start slow and don’t overdo it! 

Why is my erector spinae so tight?

Just as with any other group of muscles, there can be a list of usual suspects as to why your erector spinae has become tight. Some of these reasons include:

  • Poor posture: this can stem from prolonged sitting or standing, along with poor body mechanics. 
  • Lack of movement: A sedentary lifestyle often leads to weaker and stiff muscles. Your erector spinae muscles are not immune to this lifestyle. Some studies report that even just walking can help strengthen your spinal muscles, prevent lower back pain, and help maintain some core strength. 
  • Muscle imbalance: Weak muscles can lead to compensatory tightening of other muscles. 
  • Overuse or strain: Muscle tightness can be caused by overdoing it when it comes to lifting or other physical activities. 
  • Stress and tension: Back muscles in particular are prone to tightness, tension, and knots when experiencing stress. 
  • Injury or trauma: Unless proper recovery is prioritized, pain can persist from these causes. 

How do you release an erector?

Methods for tight muscle release often look similar regardless of the area you’re looking at. Some other options to consider include foam rolling, heat therapy, massage, mindful breathing, and posture correction. 

Massage can be extremely effective in releasing tight muscles, granted that it is done correctly. There are various methods to try whether you’re getting a deep tissue massage from a professional or using a DIY method at home. Ultimately, it is possible to achieve a myofascial release in erector spinae muscles. Check out our other blog pages for more resources on myofascial release and trigger points

Of course, let’s not overlook the functionality of the QL Claw when it comes to releasing tight muscles of the lower back - which is what it was created for! If you want to be extra efficient, use the QL Claw in combination with a CBD Skin Salve and you’ll be in business. 

Why does my erector spine hurt?

Unless you had a specific spinal/back injury you can trace your pain to, common reasons for pain include those reasons listed in the second question above. Other reasons may include chronic inflammation or even a spinal condition that may need further evaluation. If you’re truly unsure, make sure to check with a healthcare professional.

Erector Spinae Stretch: Conclusion

I hope this page brought you some useful information - now we know the erector spinae muscles play an essential role in supporting our spine, maintaining posture, and facilitating a range of movements. 

The key point to remember is that stretches and exercises are worth incorporating when it comes to your spine since it’s easy, free, and can be done anywhere! Yes, sometimes it may take a whole lifestyle adjustment, but it will be surely worth it if it can keep you from going down a path of muscle tightness, discomfort, or pain! Happy Stretching! 


[1] Taylor, E.W., Ugbolue, U.C., Gao, Y., Gu, Y., Baker, J., Dutheil, F. Erector spinae muscle activation during forward movement in individuals with or without chronic lower back pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Rehabilitation Research and Clinical Translation, 2023. 

[2] Sung, P., Lammers, A., Danial, P. Different parts of erector spinae muscle fatiguability in subjects with and without low back pain. The Spine Journal, 2009. 

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