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5 Stretches for Chronic Back Pain

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

Chronic back pain can be debilitating and painful. Repetitive movements, long periods of sitting or standing at work, and excessive stress can all cause aches and pains in the lower back. Core strengthening and daily stretching is the simplest and most cost effective ways to remedy and prevent pain. Here are 5 basic stretches to relieve back pain:

*If you have chronic back pain or have undergone back/spinal surgery, be sure to consult your doctor before attempting these exercises.


  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  2. Using both hands, grab hold of your right lower leg and interlace your fingers, or clasp your wrists just under the knee.

  3. While keeping your left foot flat on the floor, gently pull your right knee up to your chest until you feel a slight stretch in your lower back.

  4. Hold your right knee against your chest for 30–60 seconds, making sure to relax your legs, hips, and lower back.

  5. Release your right knee and return to the starting position. Repeat steps 2–4 with your left leg. Repeat three times for each leg.

To make this stretch more difficult, simultaneously bring both of your knees to your chest for 15–20 seconds. Do this 3 times, separated by 30 seconds of rest.

2. Trunk Rotation

  1. Lie on your back and bring your knees up toward your chest so your body is positioned as if you’re sitting in a chair.

  2. Fully extend your arms out to the sides, with your palms face-down on the floor.

  3. Keeping your knees together and hands on the floor, gently roll both bent knees over to your right side and hold for 15–20 seconds.

  4. Return to the starting position and repeat step 3 on your left side, again holding for 15–20 seconds. Repeat 5–10 times on each side.


  1. Get onto your hands and knees with your knees hip-width apart.

  2. Arch your back by pulling your belly button up toward your spine, letting your head drop forward.Hold for 5–10 seconds.

  3. Return to the starting position.

  4. Raise your head up and let your pelvis fall forward, curving your back down toward the floor. Hold for 5–10 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat the cat-cow stretch 15–20 times.


  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.

  2. Hook a standard bath towel around the bottoms of your feet at the heels.

  3. Gently bend forward at your hips, bringing your belly down to your thighs.

  4. Keeping your back straight, grab the towel to help you bring your belly closer to your legs.

  5. Stretch until you feel mild tension in the back of your legs and lower back. Hold for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat 3 times.


  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

  2. Lift your hips and place a foam roller or firm cushion underneath them.

  3. Completely relax your body into the support of the floor and the foam roller or firm cushion.

  4. Hold for 30–60 seconds and repeat 3–5 times, resting 30–60 seconds between sets.

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