How Do I Relax My Back?

Fitness woman doing balasana yoga
A woman performing the child's pose on a yoga mat. (Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images)

Hunching at a desk, sleeping in an awkward position and overdoing a workout can all lead to back pain. If the pain is intense, it can limit your range of motion. Along with over-the-counter pain relievers, warm baths and massage, stretching can help relax your back and alleviate pain and stiffness.

Mid-Back and Sides

Assume the yoga position child's pose by kneeling on the ground, sitting on your heels and extending your arms in front of you. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your palms flat on the ground. Let your forehead touch the floor. Relax your back, gently pushing your butt to your heels. Hold for five deep breaths. With your arms still extended, shift your back to one side and your hips in the opposite direction until you feel a stretch. Hold for another five breaths and repeat on the other side.

Upper Back

Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet on the floor. Keep your back in contact with the back of the chair. Clasp your hands in front of you and lift your arms so your hands are approximately the height of your lower ribs. Round your shoulders and push your hands forward until you feel a stretch between your shoulder blades. Lower your arms, continuing to push your hands forward, to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, relax for 30 seconds and repeat three more times.

Lower Back

Lie on your back, bring your knees to your chest and wrap your arms around them. Keep your lower back in contact with the floor. Hold for five deep breaths. Keeping your knees at chest height, extend your arms to the sides, in line with your shoulders. Drop your knees to one side, keeping them as high as possible. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side. Finish by lifting your feet into the air with your legs bent and your knees as close to your armpits as possible. Grasp the outsides of your feet and hold for five breaths. Rest your arms and legs on the floor again and extend your arms above your head. Point your toes to stretch your legs.

Partner Stretch

Sit facing your partner with your legs out to the sides. Have your partner sit in the same position so your feet touch. Hold hands, extend your arms and have your partner lean back as far as possible. Keep your back straight and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Reverse the stretch so you pull your partner forward and hold for another 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch as many times as necessary until you feel your back release.

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