Last Updated on April 20, 2022

Today I’m sharing the 10 best upper and lower back stretches for back pain and that you can also do after workouts to prevent pain, too.

This is part 2 in a mini-series I kicked off all about stretches.  This stretch series was inspired because I see so many people in the gym skipping stretches after their workouts.  Also because so many of you admitted that you don’t stretch when I shared my post with 10 tips to get better results from your workouts that corrected mistakes I see most with newbies to training.

All stretches have their own unique set of benefits.  We’ve already covered the benefits of and best arm stretches but today we’re tackling the back. Back stretches are especially helpful for a lot of reasons.  I find that when you know the benefits of stretching it’s way more motivating to do them.

Let’s start with the benefits of back stretches and then we’ll dig into the best back stretches to do after your workouts.

 

BACK STRETCH EXERCISE BENEFITS

 

Stretching the back consistently has a variety of benefits.

  • Tight muscles can cause poor posture. Sitting at a computer can lead to sciatica, neck issues, and poor posture. Stretching can improve posture and reverse postural issues, too.
  • Stretching can improve range of motion and prevents loss of range of motion.  This is extremely important to maintain mobility and the ability to extend limbs and use joints.
  • Stretching can decrease upper and lower back pain and can also help heal an existing back injury and reverse pain.  It has for me and I have 3 herniated discs in my lumbar.
  • Stretching can prevent back injuries and pain.  A stretching routine, when done consistently can help prevent future back pain and reverse existing pain by strengthening your back muscles and reducing your risk for muscle strain.  Strengthening and stretching back muscles is key for noticeable results.
  • Stretching can decrease muscle soreness, stiffness, and increases circulation.
  • Stretches done after a back, core, or upper body workout helps prevent knots, adhesions, recovery time, soreness, and risk of injury.
  • Stretching feels great and helps relieve stress and tension.

 

STRETCHES FOR UPPER AND LOWER BACK PAIN AND TO DO AFTER WORKOUTS

 

The following exercises target all of the muscles in the upper, mid, and lower back as well as the oblique core muscles.

It’s important to stretch all of these muscles together because they all connect at the same joints including the spine, pelvis, and shoulders.

Targeting all of the muscles that connect at these joints means the best results, most benefits, and least pain for you.  So it’s important to stretch your back after core workouts, too.  A strong core supports the back.  A strong back supports the core.

 

 

Notice how all of these stretch exercises use a different movement, direction, and position?  That’s how the magic happens.

By stretching all of the back and supporting back muscles in the same session the muscle fibers have a chance to elongate and release acids that accumulate during the workouts.

This helps prevent soreness and allows the muscle fibers to settle back into position which prevents knots, tension, risk of injury, posture problems, and pain.

 

Stretching Tips to Reduce Back Pain

 

Keep these tips in mind to get the best results and to prevent and reduce back pain with the stretching exercises.

  • Wear comfortable clothing that doesn’t constrict the body or restrict movement
  • Stretching should always be pain free so don’t force the body into a difficult or painful position
  • Move slowly and avoid overextending yourself, moving too fast and overdoing it can cause muscle strain
  • Stretch on a flat, stable surface with enough room to move around
  • Hold stretches for 15 to 30 seconds – this helps lengthen muscles long enough to readjust muscle fibers, improve mobility, range of motion, and reduce pain
  • Repeat each stretch 3 – 5 times— maximum benefits and muscle fiber elongation happens after the 4th time repeating it

 

trainer Christina Carlyle demonstrating 10 back exercises and text that says The Best Upper & Lower Back Stretches For Back Pain & Post Workouts

 Pin these back stretches to Pinterest so you’ll have them forever

 

Back Stretch Routine Instructions

 

  • There are 10 stretches in this back stretching routine.
  • Repeat each of the 10 stretching exercises as instructed to complete one round or set.
  • Do two full sets of all 10 exercises to complete the routine.
  • You can do these stretches daily or after your back or core workouts.  Because the core and back muscles are connected it’s best to stretch the upper and low back muscles after all workouts that target the core and back.

You’ll notice some of these stretch poses don’t have an easily recognizable name.  I included the areas of the back that the exercise targets so you can easily find what you’re looking for.

After you’re done going through the back stretches, leave a comment and let me know which stretch feels best to you and helps you the most.

 

Upper and Low Back Stretch Exercise Instructions

trainer Christina Carlyle doing an upper middle and low back shoulder drop spine twist

UPPER & MID AND LOW BACK STRETCH

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart with your hands on your knees.  This is your start position.  Drop one shoulder down and across your body as far as you can with the rest of your body still.  Hold for 15-30 seconds then reverse the movement back to the start position.  Repeat the movement with your opposite shoulder to complete one set.

 

Christina Carlyle doing a seated spine twist low back exercise

SPINE TWIST LOW BACK

Sit with one leg extended out and the other bent with your foot flush against your inner thigh.  Place your palms on the ground.  This is your start position.  Gently and slowly twist one shoulder back behind you as far as you comfortably can.  Hold for 15-30 seconds then reverse the movement back to the start position.  Repeat the movement on the opposite side to complete one set.

 

trainer Christina Carlyle doing an upper middle and low back squatted reach over back stretch

MID, LOWER BACK & OBLIQUE

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart with your forearms resting on your thighs.  This is your start position.  Choose an arm and reach it directly above you.  The stretch your arm across your body while keeping the rest of your body in place.  Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds then reverse the movement.  Repeat the stretch on the opposite side to complete one set.

 

 

Christina Carlyle doing a child's pose lower back stretch

CHILD’S POSE (LOW BACK)

Start on all fours with your knees further than shoulder-width apart.  Extend your hands up in front of you as far as you can as you push your butt back towards your feet.  Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.

 

Trainer Christina Carlyle doing rounded back stretch

UPPER BACK & SHOULDERS

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your hands clasped in front of you.  Rotate your palms out away from you as you push your shoulders back as far as you can with your back rounded.  Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds to complete one set.

 

Trainer Christina Carlyle doing a windmill low back stretch

WINDMILL (LOW BACK)

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift one arm straight up overhead and keep the opposite arm down by your side. This is your start position. Lower your bottom hand down towards your foot, far as you can, keeping your other arm extended overhead. Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds.  Reverse the movement and return to the start position. Repeat the same movement on the other side to complete your set.

 

Trainer Christina Carlyle doing a Back Stretch

OBLIQUE, UPPER & LOW BACK

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your hands on your head with elbows extended out to the side.  This is your start position. Lower one elbow down towards your foot, far as you comfortably can, while lifting the other elbow.  Hold this pose for 15-30 seconds.  Reverse the movement and return to the start position. Repeat the same movement on the other side to complete your set.

 

Trainer Christina Carlyle doing a Cat Cow back stretch

CAT COW (UPPER & LOWER BACK)

Start on all fours with your knees and hands stacked under your hips and shoulders.  This is your start position.  Lift your upper back up as far as you can rounding your back.  Hold for 3 counts and then drop your upper back down as you push your tailbone up.  Hold this position for 3 counts then reverse the movement arching your upper back, back up.  Continue alternating your back up and down for 20-30 seconds to complete one set.

 

Trainer Christina Carlyle doing a body roll back stretch exercise

BODY ROLL

Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart with your hands at your sides with a slight bend in your elbows.  Push your chest out then immediately slow roll your upper torso clockwise to the right, then back, then the left while keeping your hips and legs stationary.  Roll for 15-30 times and then reverse the movement in a counterclockwise direction.

 

Trainer Christina Carlyle doing a Cobra Child Pose Back Stretch Exercise

COBRA CHILD (LOW BACK)

Start in a cobra position with your legs extended out behind you with your hands extended out in front of you assisting you to push your upper body up.  Hold this pose for 5 seconds, then slowly draw your butt back and up as you bend your legs so that you’re on your knees with your hands in front of you as far as you can as you push your butt back towards your feet.  Hold this pose for 5 seconds then reverse the movement back into cobra pose.  Continue alternating from cobra to child’s pose for 20-30 seconds to complete one set.

 

Those are the 10 best upper and lower back stretches that reduce pain, increase range of motion, prevent issues, and are great to do after your back and core workouts.

Which stretch did you like the most?  Let me know in the comments.

Your Coach and Biggest Cheerleader,

 

 

Sources:

  • https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/stretching-and-strengthening-are-key-to-healing-and-preventing-back-pain
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29053873/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4934575/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14749199/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32072792/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19525241/
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