Using Stretching to Assist with Back Pain

Are you participating in our 8-week back pain challenge? Your task for week three is to get in ten minutes of stretching every day. Here’s why…

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If you’re one of the many Australians who experience long-term or temporary back pain, it’s helpful to know a few strategies for managing pain and even eliminating your pain. One of the best things you can do to minimise or avoid back pain is to stretch or do yoga daily, and just 10 minutes a day could be helpful, whether you have stiffness, aches, or spasms.

Do 10 minutes of stretching daily

Do at least 10 minutes of stretching every day at any time that’s convenient for you. Choose from some of the recommended yoga or stretches that can help you strengthen your back or alleviate existing pain.

Why yoga and stretching?

If you have back pain, it’s possible it was caused by or worsened by inactivity, resulting in limitations to parts of the spinal column and the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your back. The right type of stretching, practiced regularly, can reduce and even eliminate back pain. Stretching can be effective against back pain because it could help prevent weakness from inactivity and boost your body’s tolerance for activity as you get older.

Yoga has been shown to be as good as physiotherapy for back pain, and even patients with quite high pain levels experienced benefits by practicing yoga. Yoga has the added benefit of possibly assisting with relaxation and stress minimisation, and research shows it can improve mood, disability, and pain levels in pain sufferers, possibly because of better muscle flexibility and reduced inflammation.

The best stretches for back pain


There are many choices for yoga movements and stretches that can help minimise or eliminate back pain. These include stretches such as decompression breathing,founder to forward folds, as well as various back stretches and hip and glute stretches.

Stretches to try

1. Knee-to-chest stretch

This stretch helps strengthen and relax your glutes. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees to around 90 degrees. Pull one knee up to your chest, and hold the position with your hands, for 20 seconds. Repeat once and then do the same for the other knee.

2. Hamstring-floor stretch

Lie flat on your back and bend your knees to around 90 degrees. Stretch out one leg and raise it, holding it straight, until the bottom of your foot faces the ceiling. Hold the position with your hands under your thigh for 20 seconds. Repeat once and then do the same for the other leg.

3. Woodpecker

This stretch is designed to strengthen your back and bottom muscles. Start in a lunge position and press through your front heel to stand tall. Raise your back heel off the floor and reach out your arms in front of your heart. Push your bottom as far back as possible without shifting your knee. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your spine neutral as you slowly reach out your arms overhead and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat for the other side.

Yoga poses to try

1. Pigeon Pose

Fitness blogger Katie Rebekah recommends trying pigeon pose. This pose stretches the spine, hips, and inner thighs, and tightness in these areas can cause low back pain. To get into the pose from all-fours, bring your right knee behind your right wrist with your lower leg at a diagonal toward your left hip. Square off your hips toward the ground. Bend forward. Widen the elbows and place one hand on top of the other as a pillow for your forehead. Hold 2-3 minutes and then switch to the left side.

Katie Rebekah told Herron:

“It’s a bitter-sweet pose, both intense and liberating at the same time. I prefer to get into the bird pose from a Downward Dog (oh, I just love my animal poses!), but it is also possible to transition from all fours or via a lunge. Approach the pose in the way that feels most natural to you at the time – sometimes a lunge to Pigeon works better for me, if my thighs or hammies are tight after running or even after wearing heels. I like to start the stretch reaching my chest to the sky for as many breaths as I feel like, before reaching forward and bringing my chest and head down to the earth and holding for up to 20mins each side… Oh that release is such an amazing feeling – they should bottle and sell it!”

2. Restful pose

Start by kneeling on all fours and keep your knees just wider than your hips. Turn your toes in and push your hips backwards as you bend your knees to reach a seated position. Raise your arms and extend them fully forwards and drop your head in a relaxed position. Hold for 20 seconds and return to the original position. Repeat three times.

3. Cat-cow stretch

Start by kneeling on all fours, keeping your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Breathe out and gently arch your spine backwards. Breathe in and tighten your core muscles as you round your back like a cat. Move back to the arched-spine position and back to the cat pose again, repeating 10 times and holding each position for 5 to 10 seconds.

4. Happy baby pose

This pose can help stretch your hips, back, and bottom while relieving back pain. Start flat on your back with your knees bent to around 30 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Raise your legs upwards and bend your knees so that you can grab your toes with your hands. Keeping your hands on your toes, stretch your legs straight and hold the position for 10 seconds before parting your legs. Hold for 30 seconds before closing your legs and returning to your original position.

Start stretching

Yoga and stretching are simple, inexpensive ways for addressing back pain. Always check with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about stretching and yoga.

Disclaimer: The Herron blog is interested in general community wellbeing and information, and does not imply that Herron products should be used for serious ailments without the advice or recommendation from your healthcare practitioner.

All information presented on the Herron website is meant for general knowledge and never meant as a diagnosis of prescription. Please always contact your doctor for health related matters.