Do you sometimes wake up with stiff back muscles? Are certain chairs causing you pain? Or maybe you just exercised too hard at the gym. A sore back is a problem most people are forced to deal with at one time or another, unless we keep it strong and flexible. The following stretches come from the world of yoga, and are very effective in strengthening the lower back, as well as relieving pain in that area, the thigh muscles, knees, and shoulders.
1. The Cobra
This pose improves the flexibility of the spine and stretches the chest, shoulders, and stomach.
- Lie on your stomach and put your hands forward
- Breathe in and slowly slide your hands towards your chest, while raising it and arching your back. Keep your thighs on the ground and your elbows should be slightly bent.
- Push your shoulders as far away from your ears as you can and stretch your neck. Look forward or lower your head back to maximize the stretch.
- Hold this pose for the duration of 5 long breaths, and finally exhale while you slowly lower yourself back onto the mat.
2. Child’s Pose
This pose complements the Cobra, and it stretches the lower back.
- Sit on your knees with your buttocks between your ankles. Support yourself with your hands. Exhale as you lower your stomach down between your knees until you’re at the pose depicted in the photo above.
- Hold this pose for 5 deep, slow, breaths and exhale while returning to a sitting position.
3. Wide Squat
This pose helps relax the lower back, as well as ease stiff thigh muscles. It is highly recommended after a run to ease muscle tension.
- Continue from pose #2, move to a squatting position. Keep your legs spread wider than your pelvis while keeping your feet parallel.
- Push your buttocks as low as you can without touching the mat.
- Put your palms together (as shown in the photo), or put them on the floor if you need more balance. Exhale and relax your head.
- Hold this position for 5 deep, slow breaths.
4. Chest Expansion
This stretch works on your chest, shoulders, lower back, and hamstrings.
- From the wide squat pose (#3), take a deep breath and move your hands behind your back. Straighten your legs, exhale slowly and bend forward.
- Slowly spread your legs wider until they’re about 3 feet apart, with your heels facing out.
- Make a slight bend in your knees, until you feel the stretch in your lower back.
- Hold the pose for 5 deep, slow breaths. To improve the stretch, try pushing your hands down towards the floor.
5. Seated Straddle
To effectively stretch your back, as well as your thighs and hamstrings, use this pose.
- Sit on the floor and spread your legs as far as they can go.
- Take a deep breath and slowly exhale while lowering your upper body towards the mat. Keep your back straight and make sure that your knees and toes are pointing up. You can place your hands on your feet or the floor.
- Stay in this position for 5 deep, slow breaths, and then slowly return to a sitting position.
6. Happy Baby Pose
The Happy Baby is one of the best ways to stretch your back, and your lower back in particular. It is also useful for relaxing stiff thigh muscles.
- Lie on your back, take a deep breath, now bend your knees and pin them to your body at a 90-degree angle and hold on to your feet.
- Exhale while using your upper body to push your knees down the side of your body.
- Stay in this position for 5 deep, slow breaths and slowly release your legs.
7. Advanced: Bridge Pose
This pose will not fix your ordinary backache, but it’s perfect for people with chronic back pains who want to improve the flexibility of their back and neck.
- Lie on your back and put your feet firmly on the ground. Your heels should be as close as possible to your buttocks, and at pelvic width.
- Place your hands on the floor and try to grab your ankles. If you can’t, keep your arms stretched and join your fingers together. Take a deep breath and use your legs and shoulders to push up, as you raise your pelvis as high as you can.
- Keep this position for 5 deep, long breaths, and then slowly lower your pelvis down to the mat.