Performing regular stretching exercises to increase the flexibility in your back can help prevent pain and injury to the back. Just five to 10 minutes of stretching in the morning and before bed can prove beneficial. When stretching, make sure you wear comfortable clothing and warm up first. Move into each stretch slowly and hold the stretch in place. Just as in strength-building exercises, you may want to repeat each exercise several times for maximum benefit.
The spine bends in every direction: front, back and side-to-side. In addition to focusing on movements that enhance the forward and backward flexibility of the spine, you should add flexibility exercises that enhance side-bending mobility. To perform the side bend, kneel on an exercise mat with a stability ball on one side of you. Place the forearm closest to the stability ball across the ball to help you balance. Lift the opposite arm directly over your head, pointing toward the ceiling. Bending your body to the side, lean over the stability ball, reaching your lifted arm as far as you can while staying balanced on your knees. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.
Piriformis Muscle Stretch
According to the website Spine-Health, failing to stretch the buttocks and hips can severely limit spinal flexibility because of the support that the glutes and hips provide to the lower back. The piriformis muscle runs through the buttocks and should regularly be stretched to help prevent back and leg pain. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh. Lift your left foot off the ground and bend your left knee toward your torso. Grasp behind your left thigh with both hands and pull your left thigh as close as you comfortably can to your torso, simultaneously pulling your bent right leg into your chest. Hold in place for 20 to 30 seconds. Release your position and repeat on the opposite side.
In addition to bending exercises, you should also perform rotational exercises to increase the rotational flexibility of your spine. Using an exercise ball, lie over the top of the ball with your belly against the center of the ball. Balance your self with the help of your hands and feet. Place your right palm firmly on the ground and sweep your left arm out and up, reaching it toward the ceiling as you rotate your torso. Follow the motion of your left arm with your eyes. Hold the stretch for five to 10 seconds, then release your arm and return it to the floor. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side. Continue alternating between the right and left side five to 10 times each.