Do this lower-back stretch every day to help with back pain

a lower back stretch
(Image credit: Getty/emiliozv)

There are multiple reasons why you might suffer from a stiff lower back. It might be that you have tight hip flexors or hamstrings from doing lots of running, or perhaps you spend a lot of time sat down, and tend to sit with you spine curved forward. Either way, if you’re looking for ways to loosen your back there are some simple stretches that can help. 

Of course, if you do suffer from prolonged back pain, it’s a good idea to seek medical advice from a professional, but if you’re looking for an easy stretch to add to your day to day routine, the crucifix stretch is worth trying. Read on to find out more, and be sure to see our guide on the best exercises to do if you have sciatica

How to do the crucifix stretch 

To try the crucifix stretch, start by lying flat on your back, with your arms outstretched to the side. Raise one knee towards your chest, and lower the knee to the opposite side of your body, keeping your arms and shoulders on your ground. You should feel the stretch in your lower back. Hold the stretch for 20-40 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side. 

This stretch targets the lower back, and is a good one to do in the morning if you’re stiff when you wake up. It’s also a good one for most athletes who are looking to loosen their back after running, cycling, or lifting. 

What other stretches are good for lower back pain? 

If you’re looking for some other popular back stretches, here’s some others worth trying: 

Cat-cow pose

To do the cat/cow stretch, get onto your hands and knees, with your knees hip-width apart. Make sure your hands are in line with your shoulders, and your knees are stacked underneath your hips. Engaging your core, take a deep breath in and arch the back, pulling your belly button into your spine. 

Hold at the top of the movement for two or three breaths — you should feel a stretch in your spine and lower back. Then move into the cow part of the stretch by lowering your belly to the floor, lifting your sit bones outwards, and raising your head and neck to the ceiling, rounding your spine. Keep moving between these two stretches for a few minutes each day. Here’s more on the benefits of the cat-cow pose

Pigeon pose

This classic yoga pose is brilliant at stretching the hip flexor muscles, which attach deep into your lumber spine, and can cause pain when tight. To do a pigeon pose, start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Bring your right knee forward, and place it behind your right wrist. Straighten your left leg behind you, and make sure your right ankle is in line with your left hip and that your hips are square before lowering down to the ground. Hold in this position for a few seconds — you should feel the stretch in your right hip. Repeat on the other side. Here’s more stretches that help loosen tight hip flexors

Child's pose

This gentle yoga stretch helps stretch the muscles in your glutes, hamstrings, and back. To do a childs pose, start in a tabletop position, with your hands and knees on the ground. Sink back through your hips to rest your glutes on your heels, and stretch your arms out straight in front of you. Your belly should be resting on your thighs, and you should feel a gentle stretch along the back of your body. Take a few deep breaths here, holding the pose for a couple of minutes. 

Knee to chest stretch 

This one is similar to the crucifix stretch, but without the twist. Start by lying on your back and raise one knee up to your chest. Hug your knee into your chest, keeping the other leg outstretched and your lower back pressed into the floor. Hold this for 30 seconds to a minute, before straightening the leg and repeating on the other side. 

If you are suffering with back pain, you might also need to take a look at your sleep setup. Here's a guide to the best mattresses for back pain, and more expert advice on the best type of mattress for back pain

For some more stretches to try, check out the best exercises to do if you sit down all day, the best exercises to do to strengthen your lower back, and the best stretches for tight hip flexors

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.