Back Stretches that Ease Stiffness & Increase Flexibility

Back stretches with Physiotherapist Michelle from This gentle routine of 6 exercises relieves back stiffness and improves your lower back flexibility.


Are you suffering from back stiffness or seeking to avoid lower back injury?

These back stretches can readily be performed at home or in the gym.

The back stretches in this video are designed as general information for healthy adults and not specific treatment for lower back conditions. Speak with your health practitioner before commencing new back stretches. Cease any back exercise that causes you any physical discomfort.

Back Stretches Contents

Read on now for guidelines, tips and techniques for each of the 6 back stretches demonstrated in this video. Regular back stretches can help to reduce the risk of lower back injury with general activity or exercise.

1. Knee to Chest Stretch

Knee to chest exercise is directed at increasing flexibility in the lower back and the hips.
• Commence lying flat on a mat or a firm mattress and use a neck support if required.
• Raise your left thigh towards your chest and hold around the front of your left shin.
• Keep your right leg flat on the mat or positioned with your foot flat and your knee slightly bent.
• Repeat this back stretch on your right leg by raising your right knee towards your chest.
• Aim to maintain this stretch for up to 20-30 seconds at a time and repeat 2-3 times each leg.

2. Lumbar Rotations

Lumbar rotations promote movement and relieve stiffness in the lower back.
• Commence lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.
• Position your arms and shoulders to rest comfortably on the supporting surface just out to the sides of your body.
• Exhale as you roll both knees towards the supporting surface on one side of your body.
• Repeat this action to the other side of your body.
• Keep both of your shoulders flat on the supporting surface throughout this exercise.
• Maintain relaxed breathing throughout lumbar rotation back stretches.
• Repeat up to 10 lumbar rotations in a row.

3. Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic tilts are gentle movements of the pelvis and lower back. Pelvic tilts can provide relief from lower back and pelvic stiffness.
• Start lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
• Gently tilt and your pelvis backwards as you flatten out the curve in your lower back.
• Tilt your pelvis forwards to return to your starting position.
• Avoid excessive arching of the lower back
• Repeat up to 10 pelvic tilts in a row.

4. Kneeling Back Stretch

Kneeling back stretch can increase the flexibility of the lower back, buttocks and hips. When extending the arms in front of the body during this stretch, the middle back muscles are stretched too. Kneeling back stretch is readily modified for sore shoulders by keeping the arms by the sides.
• Position your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
• Reach your arms out along the supporting surface in front of your body.
• Move your buttocks backwards to your heels.
• Keep your chin tucked throughout the stretch.
• Maintained this stretch for up to 20-30 seconds as comfortable.

5. Back Extension Stretch

Back extensions can help to maintain flexibility on the lower back
• Start lying face down on the supporting surface. Position your hands or forearms flat beneath your shoulders.
• Raise your upper body slightly by pushing through your hands or forearms.
• Lower your upper body back down to your supporting surface.
• Keep your chin tucked though out this exercise to avoid neck strain.
• Repeat up to 10 back extensions in a row.

6. Cat Curl Stretch

Cat curl stretch promotes the flexibility of the middle and lower back.
• Start kneeling by positioning your knees under your hips and your hands directly below your shoulders. Kneel on a pillow or cushion if you are prone to knee pain.
• Arch your middle back upwards towards ceiling as if being drawn up by a string.
• Return your body back to starting position.
• Avoid arching your back too far downward to protect your lower back.
• Repeat up to 4-5 cat curl stretches in a row.


These 6 back stretches can be performed on a daily basis to help maintain the flexibility of the lower and middle back. You may choose to perform back stretches when you first wake up if you are prone to morning back stiffness. Always listen to your body and perform those exercises that feel comfortable and pain free during and after exercise. Cease any back stretches that may cause any physical discomfort.

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