5 Stretches To Ease Your Back Pain

I want nothing to stand in the way of your getting plenty of exercise, so I'm going to give you five great-feeling stretches that can help relax your back, neck, and shoulders. Back strain is one of the most common forms of pain in America. These aren't just harmless little aches, either. The pain can lead to inactivity, weight gain, depression, and sleep loss, all of which could diminish your quality of life.

So try these moves to loosen up a little. All it takes is a few minutes in the morning or right before bed, several times a week.

Neck Stretch

Sit on floor with legs crossed. Place left hand on right side of head and gently pull head toward left shoulder (keep shoulder down), feeling a stretch on right side of neck. Hold for 3 deep breaths. Return to start and repeat on right side.

Hip-Buttock Stretch

Lie on back with feet off floor and cross right ankle over left knee. Grasp back of left thigh near knee and gently pull legs toward chest, feeling a stretch in right hip and buttock. Hold for 3 deep breaths. Switch legs and repeat.

Seated Spinal Twist

Sit with knees bent and left leg stacked on top (or sit cross-legged). Extend right arm, placing it on outside of left knee. Place left hand on floor behind you and twist gently to left, moving head and shoulders with torso. You should feel a stretch up and down spine. Hold for 3 deep breaths. Return to center, switch legs, and repeat to right side.

Child's Pose

Lie facedown with knees tucked under you and arms extended in front so you feel a stretch from shoulders to lower back. Take several deep breaths to release all the tension in your back. Now slowly walk arms to the right so that torso extends toward 2 o'clock position (not pictured). You should feel a stretch on left side of torso. Take 3 deep breaths. Return to center and repeat to left side.

Back Relaxer

Lie on back and bend knees over chest. Hold backs of thighs and gently pull knees farther in toward chest, feeling a stretch in lower back. Hold for 3 deep breaths.