Stretches to help the lower back (lumbars)


The ‘table’ stretch
Get onto your hands and knees on the floor with your spine in a neutral position - not arched up or sagging down. Breathe out and tighten you lower stomach muscles to pull your tail bone down towards floor. Avoid arching your back to do this

Whilst keeping the tail bone down & hands still, slide your buttocks towards your heels until you feel a stretch in the lower back (see photo). Hold for a count of 5-10 seconds and repeat until you feel the area soften.

tablestretch2-676 To stretch the right side more, move your hands to the left to start with (photo), so that your body’s curving towards that side. Follow the rest of the instructions above. Take your hands to the right to stretch the left side more.
pelvictilt Pelvic tilt for lower back tightness
(Not for those with disc problems)

Lie on your back on the floor, with your knees up and feet on the floor, arms by your sides. Breathe out and contract your abdominal muscles to try and flatten the hollow of your lower back so that it touches the floor. Hold for a few seconds. Repeat till it feels easier.
kneehug-863 Knee hugs
(Not for those with disc problems)

Lie on your back and slowly pull both knees to your chest with your hands till you feel tightness. Hold it there! Pull just one knee up if doing both at the same time is too difficult.
bumtoshoulder-409 Buttock/gluteal muscle stretch
Pull the knee to the opposite shoulder.  Try to use your hip muscles to help send the knee in that direction.  You can also do circular movements towards the opposite shoulder with the aim of feeling the area loosen up as you go on.
fig4 Buttock/gluteal stretch #2
Pulling the right thigh (photo) up towards the head dramatically increases the buttock stretch in the left leg that is crossed over. 

some people with really restricted hips & really tight gluteal muscles may be unable to cross the leg over enough to do this stretch, in which case they should do the one above.
crucifix-867 Rotation stretch for back
Lie on your back with your feet on the floor & a pillow under your head if necessary. Place arms out from your sides.

Turn your head left, and gently let the knees fall the other way to the floor.

Don’t let the shoulders lift off the floor, and don’t allow the knees to slide over each other. Repeat to the other side, turning the head first to the opposite side.
crucifix2-246 Rotation stretch - stronger variation
From the start position above with your head turned left, cross you right leg over so it rests on the outside of your left knee.
Now you can use the weight of that leg to help pull the left knee towards the floor to the right. Again, have your head rotated to the left & try to prevent your shoulders lifting.
quadsstretch-324 Quadriceps stretch
You’ll need to steady yourself with your left hand on something immovable. Stand on your left leg only & grab hold of the front of your foot with your right hand. Your foot will now be behind your buttock.

Keeping your body upright, use your thigh muscles to push your right knee & thigh back for a slow count of 10. If your quads are tight you’ll feel a tight pulling in the front of that thigh. 

Remember, don’t lean forwards or let your thigh swing out to away from the side of your body. You can add extra stretch by pulling your foot further towards your buttock.
proposalpsoas-385 Psoas stretch (pronounced ‘So-as’)
Kneel on your left knee as if you were going to propose marriage! Use a cushion under it if there’s any discomfort there.

Slide the right foot forward along the floor so that it’s a little beyond the right knee. During the stretch we want that knee to move over but not beyond the foot to help avoid injury.

Now for the stretch itself move your hips and pelvis forward as far as you can. As you do this your left thigh will move behind you & your raised right knee will move forward.

If the muscle is tight, you should feel a stretch in the groin area or in the top of that left thigh. Hold the position at the point of stretch. Then swap leg positions and repeat.
fullpsoas-69 Psoas stretch - stronger variation
This time lean on something that can support your weight without sliding away.  It needs to be high enough that you can keep a straight back.  Don't let your lower back arch backwards.

Lean  forwards as far as you can whilst keeping the other leg stretched out straight behind you.  It's like a deep lunge, but done slowly.  Again, position your front foot so that your forward knee doesn't go in front of it.
hamstring-382 Hamstring stretch along the floor
 With your knees bent, sit with your back to a wall. Keep your bottom firmly tucked up against it. If needed, sit on a cushion.

Without letting your low back or bottom move away from the wall, slowly straighten one of your bent knees until you feel the stretch in the back of that leg. Hold for a few seconds and continue repeating till you feel some improvement. Then do the same with the other leg.


Jill and Chris were both trained in the U.K and started Osteoworks back in 2004 when they moved to N.Z from London with their son.