Your back will thank you for trying these simple stretches

July 30, 2018 Providence Health Team


In this article: 

  • Our backs suffer greatly from extended periods of sitting, and most people got more sedentary during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Incorporating simple stretches into your daily routine can make a huge difference for your back.

  • Providence physicians suggest also working on core strength to help protect your back from injury.

Do you have an ache in your back? Are you at your computer all day or sitting for extended periods of time? Our modern lifestyles don't do our backs any favors. However, if you get in the habit of practicing some back-stretching exercises, you may be surprised how much better you feel. Take a few minutes anytime — when you wake, between commercial breaks, while you work from home, or before bed — to stretch your back the right way.

Here are some simple techniques to try first:

The Safe Turn:

Many back exercises require you to turn from side to side. Before turning, always tighten your stomach muscles. This allows your core to be engaged. It will also take pressure off your lower back and is important during exercises where you have to twist your legs or torso from side to side.

Increasing Back and Spine Flexibility: Flexibility is the number one goal. If your back is relaxed and able to move with ease, you will set the stage for less chronic tension and pain.

The Back Rotation:

Lie flat on the floor. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.

Allow yourself to relax and become comfortable in this position.

Let both knees drop to one side, getting them as close to the floor as possible without forcing them. Only go as far as you are comfortable. Turn your head in the opposite direction as your knees. Try to keep your arms and shoulders flat on the floor.

Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds, and then switch sides. Repeat the exercise for at least 3 to 5 times on each side.

Core health is back health: Your core strength can be closely related to your back health and comfortability. When your stomach muscles engage, it can take pressure off your lower back, so strengthening your core can help with back issues.

The Pelvic Tilt:

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms at your sides with your hands palm-side down.

Take several deep breaths. Breathe in and out slowly.

Squeeze your buttocks together tightly and tighten your belly muscles. This allows the small of your back to lower itself to the floor.

Hold for 5 to 15 seconds. Release the buttocks and belly muscles.

Repeat this exercise 5 times.

Consistency pays: The key to better back health is consistency over time. The more you practice your stretching routine, the better you will get at it and the greater the benefits you will get out of it.

The Elbow Press:

Lie on your stomach on the floor. Keep the tops of your feet flat against the floor and slightly apart.

Take a few deep breaths to help you relax and feel comfortable.

Keeping your forearms and elbows close to your sides, press yourself up with your forearms. Keep your elbows bent and your forearms and hands on the floor.

Press your chest, neck, and head up while your buttocks, belly, and hips remain on the floor, relaxed. Hold this position for at least 15 to 30 seconds.

Lower yourself slowly back to the floor.

Repeat this exercise 2 or 3 times.


Whether it be a few daily stretches in your bedroom or rolling out a yoga mat, creating a stretching game plan can help mend your sore back one day at a time. This kind of care for yourself and your back is especially important to do now, as we face unprecedented challenges and stresses due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Stay well, and keep washing your hands.


Find a doctor

Be sure to talk to your health care provider before beginning a new fitness program or if you injure yourself during exercise. 

If you feel unwell and would like to consult your doctor, consider using telemedicine options. Providence Express Care Virtual connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.

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Recommended resources

Tai chi: Prevent a fall with this ancient exercise

Chair Yoga for Your Mind Body and Spirit

Watch Your Back: How to Have Good Posture All Day Long


This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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