Stretches for Lower Back Spasms

Although it may seem counterintuitive, staying active is one of the best ways to recover from a spasm in the low back. The American Physical Therapy Association recommends resuming normal daily and work activities early on after an acute episode of low back pain. This can be difficult, however, if stiffness and spasms are occurring. Several different stretches can help improve mobility in your back.

Stretching can help relieve the pain of muscle spasms. (Image: SIphotography/iStock/Getty Images)

Hook-lying Rotation

This stretch promotes low back rotation while keeping you in a position that is usually very comfortable during a back spasm.

How To: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the bed or ground. With your legs and your feet held together, let your legs fall to the right until a stretch is felt on the left side of your low back. Do not allow your left shoulder to leave the ground. After holding this for 10 to 30 seconds, repeat the stretch on the left side.

The child's pose stretch is an easy way to stretch the muscles in the low back. (Image: f9photos/iStock/Getty Images)

Child's Pose

This yoga pose helps to improve flexibility in the muscles surrounding your lumbar spine.

How To: Kneel on the ground and gently sit your buttocks back until they rest on your heels. Then, put your palms flat on the ground in front of you and slide them forward until a stretch is felt in your back. Try not to let your buttocks lift off your heels as you do this.

Cat-Cow Stretch

This exercise is a great way to restore movement in your low back and pelvis following a spasm.

How To: Get onto your hands and knees. Start by sagging your belly towards the ground as you allow your pelvis to rock forwards. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds. Then, engage your buttocks and stomach muscles as you arch your back like an angry cat. Again, maintain this for a count for 10 to 30 seconds.

Seated Posterior Stretch

The seated posterior stretch allows you to stretch your spastic low back while sitting in a chair.

How To: Sit on the edge of a chair with your legs spread wide and your feet on the floor. With one hand on top of the other, slowly reach your arms towards the ground. As you do this, allow your head to drop down towards your chest. When you feel a stretch in your back, hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds before relaxing. You can also move your hands slightly to the left as you do this to stretch the right part of your low back or to the right to stretch the left portion of the low back.

Gentle bringing your knees to your chest brings your low back into flexion and stretches the muscles. (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images)

Knee to Chest Stretch

This is an excellent low back stretch that can be performed before you get out of bed in the morning.

How To: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet together. Grab your knees with both hands and move them towards your chest until your feel a pull in your low back. Keep your knees here for 10 to 30 seconds before relaxing.

Seated Rotation Stretch

This stretch uses the arms of a chair and focuses on improving your lumbar rotation.

How To: Sit up straight in a chair with arms and place your feet on the floor. Turn slowly to the left and pull on the arm of the chair to further the stretch. Make sure to maintain an erect posture as you do this. Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds and then repeat to the right side.


To properly stretch your low back, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends doing two to four repetitions of each stretch. Stretches should feel tight or slightly uncomfortable, but should not be painful. Be sure to talk to your doctor immediately if the spasms do not improve or if they are accompanied by numbness or tingling, weakness in your legs or bowel and bladder incontinence.

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