4 Stretches You Probably Didn’t Know Could Ease Back Pain
Lower back pain is, unfortunately, extremely common and can stem from a wide array of factors, which can make pinpointing the best remedy for you difficult and frustrating. One of the leading sources for back pain? Long periods of sitting—especially with poor posture that exacerbates disc pressure, muscle stiffness, and other back-related bummers. Don’t feel too bad: Most people are guilty of sitting for too long in a chair, slouching on the couch, or working in bed (maybe even more so during quarantine). And this is very likely why most people encounter at least one back issue at some point in life.
One common misconception about back pain is the assumption that stretches that target the back specifically are the best or only way to find relief. Sometimes it's true, and gentle back stretches for strength and mobility are absolutely important (we have some fabulous moves for that here); but sometimes it’s actually tightness, stiffness, or misalignment in nearby joints or muscle groups contributing to back discomfort. For example, sitting for long periods of time—driving for hours, working at a desk, studying at the kitchen table—can tighten and shorten the hip flexors and make them less mobile. Not only will you feel direct stiffness in your hips, but this also weakens the glutes and pulls the pelvis and ribcage down, causing indirect strain on the lower back.
“When the hips stop moving as much, not only do we lose range of motion in the hip joints, but the muscles surrounding the hips get very tight as well,” says Jennifer Esquer, PT, DPT, a physical therapist, influencer, and creator of The Mobility Method and The Optimal Body. “Without our ability to move well through the hips, the low back ends up picking up the slack and taking on a lot more pressure than it’s normally used to.”
To help take a load off your aching back, Esquer shares four effective stretches targeting tight hips, glutes, quads, hamstrings, and adductors (inner thigh muslces) that could secretly be fueling your back pain.
You can do each of the below moves at home—even in the middle of a crazy work day—as often as everyday, if needed. Read the instructions here, then follow along with Esquer in the demo video above for helpful visuals and cues.