Lower back pain is about as common as it is obnoxious.
Back pain can come from sitting too much (like all day at your desk) or from over-exerting yourself (like when you’re at the gym and thinking about how you sit at your desk all day). It makes sense – your back muscles are some of the biggest in your body because of just how much they do! Of course, all that work translates to stiffness, achiness, or even muscle spasms over time.
So to help keep our backs fit and strong so they can do their thing without so much pain, here are seven quick stretches to start your day!
The Hamstring Floor Stretch
Lay down on your back and bend your left knee so your left foot is flat on the floor. Lift your right leg as straight into the air as you can. If you need, clasp the hands behind your thigh to give yourself a little more support. Hold your right leg up for 30 seconds then switch and repeat for a total of 1 minute in the air for each leg.
Knee to Chest Stretch
Before you get up: stay where you are. With your left leg bent and left foot on the floor, bend your right leg and hug your knee to your chest. Hold for 20 seconds for each leg twice. This stretch helps strengthen and relax your glutes, which help support those lower back muscles!
Still flat on your back, bend your right knee and gently allow it to lower over your other leg toward the left. You can use your left hand to hold your right knee down if you need, but make sure you’re not pushing down on your bent leg. If you’re able, stretch your right arm out and turn your gaze toward the tips of your right fingers. Hold for 20 seconds then slowly unravel and repeat on the other side.
The Piriformis Stretch
Now, still on your back, bend both knees so both your feet are flat on the floor. Lift your right foot and place your right ankle just above your left knee, as though you were sitting in a chair with your legs crossed. Reach through and grasp the back of your left thigh, lifting your left leg until the lower half is parallel with the floor (or as close as you can get). Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
The Lying-Down-Quadriceps Stretch
Roll on over to your side so your head is propped under your bottom arm. Your bottom leg should be bent at the knee. Bend your top leg at the knee and try to grasp your ankle behind your back with your top hand. Once you have this bind, pull gently (but not too much!) to deepen the stretch to your quad. Hold for 30 seconds then switch to the other side.
The Hip Flexors Stretch
Time to get off the floor! Slowly come up to your knees and step one foot out in front of you so you’re in a low lunge position. Make sure your front knee is in line with your ankle to keep it stable and prevent any injury. Feel free to take a wide stance here so you can really feel that stretch along the sides of your hips. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and switch legs.
The Total Back Stretch
For this one, you’ll need a prop! Something like a table or chair or column – just make sure it’s not going anywhere if you pull on it. Stand about 2-3 feet away from your prop and plant your feet squarely in line with your hips. Bend at the hips, grab hold of your prop, and pull back for 30 seconds.
Once your 30 seconds are up, slowly stand up straight, bending at the hips again to keep your back from curving. Take a deep breath in and reach your arms up as far as you can. Drop the left arm and lean towards your left, stretching your right arm over your head. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Then, bring your arms down, and do a shimmy-shake (or whatever movement you feel you need now) because you’re done! While short, the stretches in this little group help stretch out and repair the muscles that are causing that lower back pain to help ease it once and for all!