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How To Stretch Your Lower Back To Alleviate Pain And Tightness

By: Zack Mathews, NASM - CPT, CES, & PES, PN-L1

how to stretch your lower back

Feeling pain and learning how to stretch your lower back can be frustrating when you can't pinpoint the issue and get relief.

Your hip flexors and hamstrings may be overworked after long periods of running, or you may sit for long periods with your back bent forward.

In any case, there are a few easy stretches you may do to learn how to stretch your lower back.

Of course, if you have persistent back pain, you should consult a doctor, but if you're looking for a simple stretching routine to incorporate into your daily routine, these stretches are worth a shot.


Here are some of my favorite ways on how to stretch your lower back.

  • Pigeon Pose
  • Inner Thigh Stretch
  • Supine Spine Twist
  • Piriformis Stretch
  • Knee To Chest Stretch
  • Hip Flexor Stretch & Activation

Low Back Pain Stretches Targeting The Hips & Glutes

Pigeon pose

I know what you are thinking!

I came for stretches for my lower back and he's showing me how to stretch my hips and glutes!

Here me out.  Lots of back pain is actually caused from the surrounding muscles.  One of the best places to start alleviating lower back pain is by loosening up the hips.

One of the best ways to loosen up the groin and hips is to do a variation of the pigeon stance. The deep hip rotator muscles, which are responsible for hip stability, are stretched in this position.

How to to do the pigeon pose exercise to help with lower back pain (Check video at end of instructions if you would like a demonstration instead).

  • To begin, sit on a table with your knees precisely beneath your thighs slightly outstretched and your hands resting on your hips.
  • ·our right knee should be moved forward and outward until it reaches the outside of your right wrist. 
  • With your right foot in front of your left knee and your right knee resting on the floor, do the third step.
  • Slide your left leg back and straighten your knee slowly and cautiously. In the meantime, lower your left thigh and maintain it as close to the floor as possible.
  • Put your right buttock all the way down on the floor to complete step 5.
  • Push with your fingertips on the floor with your right foot in front of your left hip.
  • Roll your left hip joint in front of your right heel while squaring your pelvis.
  • Lengthen your spine and maintain a straight gaze while pressing your fingertips towards the floor.

Inner Thigh Stretch

Hip mobility and back discomfort can be greatly improved by stretching the muscles that link to the pelvis.

When your glutes, core, and hip muscles are weak, the abductors might become a barrier. The hip muscles become stiff, resulting in a restricted range of motion.  This stretch will help.

How to stretch your inner thigh:

  • Legs should be placed in front of you on the floor.
  • Extend your legs wide apart.
  • Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and your quads are engaged.
  • Stretch further by leaning as low as you can while slowly extending your arms out to the side.

That's a pretty basic stretch that most of us have done. When learning how to stretch your lower back, it's important to have different variations. Here are a couple that I use with my clients.

Piriformis Stretch

The piriformis muscle, located in the back of the buttocks, is targeted during this stretch.

Stretching this muscle may alleviate lower back and buttock pain. 

This is one of the ways to deal with sciatic issues.   If you are having issues with that, please consult with your doctor before engaging in any of these movements.

Keep your bottom foot firmly placed on the floor during the stretch to maximize comfort. To alleviate any pressure on your neck, place a pillow under your neck.


How to do a piriformis stretch :

  • With your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, lie down with your back against the wall.
  • The left thigh should be beneath the right ankle.
  • You'll feel a stretch as you place your hands behind your left thigh and pull your leg up toward your chest.
  • 30 to 1 minute is a good range to aim for.
  • After that, move to the other side.

You can also do this movement sitting in a chair or lying on my back.  I've recently been adding the lying ones into my stretching routine and it's done wonders for my back pain.

Lower Back Stretches

Supine Spine Twist

It's simple, yet it works.

This is an amazing back stretch that will lengthen the muscles in the back and enhance mobility in that area.


How to do the supine spine twist:

  • On a mat, face the ceiling, lie down.
  • Help your body balance by keeping your arms straight out at your sides.
  • Create a straight angle with your legs by raising your knees.
  • You can do this exercise by slowly lowering both legs to one side while keeping your back flat and your head erect.
  • Slowly bring your legs back to the center and repeat on the opposite side.

I don't have a video of myself doing this movement, but fear not!  Trusty Youtube has provided me with a great video breakdown of this stretch.

Knee To Chest Stretch

Stretching your lower back by bringing your knees to your chest will help relieve tension and stiffness in your area.  This one is a classic for how to stretch your lower back that I remember my dad doing back in the day.


How to do the knee to chest stretch: 

  • Make sure you're lying flat on the ground in the position of a supine position.
  • Interlace your fingers around your right lower leg or clasp your wrists under the knee and hold on to it with both hands, if necessary.
  • Pull your right knee up to your chest while maintaining your left foot flat on the floor until you feel a small stretch in your lower back.
  • Relax your legs, hips, and lower back while holding your right knee against your chest for 30-60 seconds.
  • Return to the beginning position by releasing your right knee.
  • Steps 2-4 should be repeated on the other leg.
  • Repeat for each leg three times.


QL Stretch

One of my favorite lower back stretches is one that targets the QL.

Your QL muscles are on either side of your spine and connect from your lower rib cage to your pelvis.

Many of my clients have experienced relief by adding this simple stretch into their routine.

Lower Back Pain Stretch & Exercise Focusing On The Hip Flexors

Hip Flexor Stretch & Activation

If you sit a lot for work, your muscles in your hip flexor become shortened, which could cause lower back pain.

I've found a combo of stretching and activating the muscles in your hip flexor can help alleviate some pain.

You know what, I would imagine you've been watching the video of all these exercises, so let's skip the written tutorial, and get straight to the videos!

Also, I want you to watch the video so you can see my cats!  If you feel like you have tight hips and want to learn more movement to stretch them, check out my guide on How To Stretch Your Hips.


Frequently Asked Questions

Should You Stretch Your Lower Back If It Hurts?

If your lower back hurts, doing light stretching is fine as long as you don't feel worse after performing the stretch.

Start by testing out the stretches above and see how your body feels.  If you feel any sharp pain, stop the exercise immediately.

If you are able to get into position and it doesn't feel any worse, you are ok to continue with the movement.

When you are ready to add leg workouts into your routine, check out this back friendly leg workout.

Can I Deadlift If I Have Lower Back Pain?

Deadlifts are a great exercise that can help build strength in your lower back but should be done with caution when experiencing back pain.

Of the different deadlift variations, your best option is to start with trap bar deadlifts since it distributes the weight in the front of your body and the rear.

To learn more about how many sets and reps of deadlifts to do, check out this article.

How Long Should I Stretch My Lower Back?

lower back pain stretch guidelines

30 - 60 seconds of each exercise above is a good start with your lower back stretching.

Perform 1 - 3 times per day and monitor how you feel.

How To Stretch Your Lower Back Recap

When it comes to learning how to stretch your lower back, you've learned that it's not necessarily your back you need to stretch.

It's a combo of stretching your glutes, adductors (inner thigh), hip flexors, and spine (specifically your QL muscle).

It's important to stay consistent with your stretching in order to see results.

Additionally, it's also important that you lift weights to help strengthen those muscles that you are stretching.