7 Exercises that Relieve Back Pain and Increase Flexibility

7 Exercises that Relieve
Back Pain and
Increase Flexibility

Suffering from back pain can color every other element of life. Nothing’s quite right when it’s uncomfortable to sit or stand for long without distress. 

And aside from pain relievers or medical intervention, you may wonder what one can do to relieve back pain and increase flexibility.

Fortunately, there are seven go-to exercises you can do daily at home to keep your back well stretched and less prone to pain.

So, unroll your yoga mat, grab a bottle of water, and let’s warm up with some moves sure to help soothe your aching back.

7 Exercises that Relieve Back Pain and Increase Flexibility

#1. Child's Pose

Yoga poses like this one stretch your gluteus maximus, thighs, and spinal extensor muscles. Plus,  you can use it to relieve pain and tension in your spine, neck, and shoulders.

Besides relaxing your body, it also promotes flexibility and blood circulation along your spine by loosening tight lower back muscles.

Follow these simple steps to do Child’s Pose:

  • Put your hands and knees on the ground and sink back through your hips so that they rest on your heels. 
  • As you bend forward, walk your hands out in front of you while hinging at your hips.
  • Your belly should rest on your thighs
  • Extend your arms in front or alongside your body with your palms facing up  
  • Take a deep breath and release any tightness or tension you may be feeling.
  • Maintain this pose for up to one minute.

You can cycle through this pose several times during your stretching routine. Feel free to return to this pose in between each of the other stretches within your exercise set as a soothing reset.

Plus, this stretch is still an option for those with a limited range of motion. Rolling up a towel and placing it on top or underneath your thighs can provide additional support. Furthermore, consider resting your forehead on a cushion if widening your knees makes you more comfortable.

#2. Knee-to-chest

You will feel more relaxed after this stretch, as it relaxes your hips, thighs, and glutes.

Follow these easy steps to do a knee-to-chest stretch:

  • Lie on your back, bending both knees, with your feet flat on the floor. 
  • Keep your left knee bent or extend it straight out along the floor. 
  • Pull your right knee into your chest, with your hands clasped behind your thigh or at the top of your shinbone. 
  • Elongate your spine thoroughly to your tailbone, while keeping hips stationary.
  • Take a deep, slow breath to release tension. 
  • Hold this pose for up to one minute. 
  • Repeat with the opposite leg.

#3. Piriformis stretch

During this stretch, you will stretch your deep buttock muscles, called the piriformis. Lower back and buttock pain may be relieved by stretching this muscle.

Mimic these simple steps to do a piriformis stretch:

  • Place both feet flat on the floor and lie on your back with both knees bent. 
  • Rest your right ankle at the base of your left thigh. 
  • Once you feel a stretch, place your hands behind your left thigh and pull upwards.
  • Hold this position for up to one minute. 
  • Switch and do the alternate side.

You can make the stretch more comfortable by keeping your bottom foot on the ground. Put a cushion under your head to provide support.

#4. Seated spinal twist

Stretch your hips, glutes, and back with this classic twist. This exercise improves your spine's mobility and stretches your shoulders, neck, and abdominal muscles.

Plus, besides stimulating your internal organs, this stretch encourages blood flow. Here’s how to do a seated spinal twist:

  • Sit on the floor with both legs extended straight forward.
  • Bend your left knee and rest your foot to the outside of your right thigh.
  • Place your right arm on the outer side of your left thigh.
  • Use your left hand at your back for support. 
  • Twist to the left starting at the base of your spine.
  • Hold this pose for up to one minute.
  • Repeat on the alternate side.

Straighten both legs to make the pose more comfortable.

Also, you can add neck rotations to this pose by inhaling and looking forward, and exhaling to look backward. Perform five to 10 reps on each side.

#5. Pelvic tilt

Your lower back will feel less tight and painful when you perform pelvic tilts, which enhance abdominal strength. 

As well as getting a good workout for your glutes and hamstrings, they are also beneficial to your back.

Follow these fail-proof steps to do a pelvic tilt:

  • Place your feet flat on the floor and lie on your back with both knees bent.
  • Flatten your back against the ground, engaging your abdominal muscles.
  • Hold this position for up to 10 seconds while breathing normally. 
  • Relax by taking a few deep breaths.
  • Do one to three sets of three to five repetitions per set.

#6. Cat-Cow

This exercise strengthens your spine, stretches the shoulders, neck, and chest, and wakes up your spine.

To do Cat-Cow, follow these steps:

  • Come down onto the floor on all fours in a tabletop position (with your hands and knees on the ground). 
  • Press into your hands and feet as you inhale while looking upward, allowing your abdomen to fill with air. 
  • Take a deep breath and arch your back toward the ceiling as you exhale. 
  • Each breath should be accompanied by a similar pattern of movement. 
  • Do this for one to two minutes.

You should place your hands slightly forward instead of directly under your shoulders if you suffer from wrist problems, and place a cushion under your knees if you have any knee concerns.

Stay in each position for five to 20 seconds instead of moving with each breath for deeper holds.

#7. Sphinx stretch

With the Sphinx stretch, you can be active and relaxed at the same time.

As you hold this baby backbend, your spine, buttocks, and chest are stretched and strengthened.

To do the sphinx stretch, follow these steps:

  • As you lie on your stomach, extend your hands in front, palms facing down, with your elbows underneath your shoulders.
  • Separate your feet slightly. If your big toes touch, it's okay.
  • Lift your head and chest while engaging your lower back, buttocks, and thighs. 
  • Breathe deeply and keep your lower back and abdominals strong.
  • Press your pelvis toward the floor. 
  • Focus your attention straight ahead or close your eyes gently. 
  • Hold this pose for up to one minute.

Movements to Increase Flexibility

Back pain relief is crucial for proper posture, alignment, and feeling of wellbeing throughout the day. But, it’s also vital to engage in movements to increase flexibility while reducing soreness and increasing muscle strength.

Fortunately, you can create or tap into a simple, low-tech routine to aid in creating a more limber and loose body, one free-flowing exercise at a time.

Consider the following exercise approaches to support improved flexibility and increased range of motion:

  • Stretching: Elongating muscles, joints, and ligaments can improve your flexibility, which in turn results in a wider range of motion. Furthermore, flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities and decrease your risk of injury.
  • Yoga: Yoga poses stretch your muscles and using them can improve your movement and help you feel more relaxed and less tired.

Regardless of your yoga level, you'll probably start noticing the benefits soon.

Try Hatha, Vinyasa, or Yin styles of yoga if you want to improve your flexibility. Several of these yoga poses can be especially useful if you're short on time, or if you prefer practicing yoga at home.

  • Tai chi: This ancient practice improves strength and flexibility in both the upper and lower body.

And aside from improving balance, Tai Chi has been shown to reduce falls in some studies--especially as we age and become more prone to experiencing proprioception, or lessening of spatial awareness with age.

  • Pilates: Practicing Pilates will improve the flexibility and mobility of your muscles and joints. 

Essentially, Pilates exercises are dynamic stretches that lengthen and loosen your muscle fibers, naturally relieving soreness and pain.

Take Time to Warm Up to Avoid Injury

Cold muscles are prone to injury when stretched. Warm up by walking or pedaling a stationary bike at a comfortable pace for five to ten minutes. 

Slowly stretch, avoiding bouncing or jerky movements, and only stretch until you feel mild tension.

Warming up helps your body prepare for aerobic activity as the cardiovascular system is gradually revved up through a process, raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles incrementally. 

Plus, warming up may also help reduce muscle soreness and injury risk.


Muscle tension and sore joints can completely change a day's mood from joyful to sedentary and sullen.

However, there is no need to wallow in discomfort when there are many simple exercises that you can do to soothe back soreness. 

These exercises can be done without any special equipment, except perhaps a yoga mat and a thermos to keep your water chilled to rehydrate while you exercise.

Stretch every morning and evening to stay limber, and commit to a solid pre-workout stretch routine to prevent injury due to adding stress to cold muscles that are not yet ready.

Your body will benefit almost immediately from providing your precious tendons with some extra TLC to maximize performance and recovery, as you continue to prime it for daily function or more demanding physical activity.


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  3. Flexibility exercises. (n.d.). Mastering the Flute with William Bennett, 60–62. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1zxxz4r.14