Are you struggling with back pain? Or maybe you just want to improve your general mobility?
Whatever your sport, improving back flexibility can help your body move through a greater range of motion, whether it's hitting the best back exercises, or daily runs.
Wake up with a tight back after a killer leg workout? Improving your back flexibility with regular stretches and mobility exercises reduces the chance of back pain or discomfort.
Don't let a tight back and muscular aches impact your lifting sessions; by setting aside 5 or 10 minutes after each workout, and during your rest days, is a great way to improve your back flexibility.
But What's the Point In Back Stretches?...
Stretching your back and increasing the flexibility of your posterior chain will improve the elasticity of your muscles, reducing the chance of injury and aches.
Achieveing increased flexibility and mobility by including back stretches in your program will allow you to maintain correct form during lifts and improve general posture during other activities in your day-to-day life.
So, if you're serious about your PB's, don't skip mobility day.
How To Increase Mobility In Your Back
Regular, daily stretching of your back muscles will help increase the flexibility within your back.
A study that looked at the amount of time a stretch should be held found that a 30-second static hold was more than adequate in improving ROM within the muscle group.
Therefore, to improve flexibility in your back, perform 3-5 repetitions, with the main stretch lasting no longer than 30 seconds each time.
Common Causes Of Back Pain In Exercise:
Poor Seated Posture
Sitting For Long Periods Of Time
Tight Hamstrings and/or Glutes
Insufficient cooldown and mobility exercises
It's important to remember that if you suffer from back pain, seeking professional help for a clear diagnosis and exercise guidance is essential.
The 5 Best Back Stretches To Improve Back Flexibility
Now we've got this far, you're probably asking, 'what are some good back stretches'? And we've got these answer.
Below, we've listed 5 of the best back stretches to help improve back flexibility and mobility, so if this is your goal, be sure to try them out!
Downward Dog to Cobra
Supine Spine Twist
Kneeling Thoracic Twists
5 Back Stretches To Help Improve Back Flexibility
1. Downward Dog To Cobra Stretch
Taken straight from your Sunday morning yoga session, the Downward Dog into Cobra Stretch is an excellent stretch for the back. Placing the spine - and back - in a controlled level of flexion, which helps to extend and stretch your lower back and hamstrings (tight hamstrings also contribute to back pain).
How to do the Cobra to Downward Dog Stretch:
Lying flat on a mat, place your hands just in front of your hips
Straighten your arms, keeping your hips in contact with the ground
Look up and arch your back
Moving to the Downward Dog:
Keep your hands in the same position
Lift your hips off the ground, as high as possible while keeping your legs straight
Move on to your toes, pushing your palms into the ground
Move your head in between your arms, looking back at your feet
2. Supine Spine Twists
Simple but effective. The Supine Spine Twist exercise is a great back stretch, lengthening the back muscles and increasing mobility in the area.
Oh, and this back flexibility exercise feels SO good, you'll love it.
How To Do Supine Spine Twist:
Lie down on a mat, facing to ceiling
Place your arms directly to the side to help stabilize your body
Bring your knees up, creating a right angle with your legs
Slowly lower both legs to one side, keeping your back flat on the ground and head facing upwards
Relax the legs to the side, before slowly lifting back to the middle and repeating on the other side
3. Jefferson Curl
Not far off the classic two-legged hamstring stretch, This one adds a little weight to help lengthen and stretch out both your back and hamstrings, two key areas that contribute to lower back pain and discomfort.
If you don't have a kettlebell or dumbbell, you can do the Jefferson Curl backstretch with resistance bands or similarly weighted household items.
Don't forget, start with a lighter weight before progressing to heavier resistance equipment!
How To Do The Jefferson Curl:
Bend your knees and keep a straight back when picking up your weight
Place your feet shoulder-width apart, holding the weight with both hands
Relax your arms, and curl your back over as if you were trying to touch your toes
Keep your legs and arms straight during the entire stretch
Relax at the bottom of the movement, and exhale, embracing the stretch
Hold for a few seconds before slowly returning to the top, and repeat
4. Kneeling Thoracic Twists
Thoracic back mobility exercises are great for relieving the mid-back from tightness and aches. The Kneeling Thoracic Twist does just that, improving back mobility and reducing tension in the middle of your back.
The Kneeling Thoracic Twists are also a great back stretch to do at work if you find yourself sitting at a desk for long periods.
How To Do Kneeling Thoracic Twists:
Start by kneeling down on one knee
Place both palms flat on the ground in line with your front foot
Rotate your torso, lifting your arm up and over your front leg
Twist until your shoulder, elbow, and hand is inline pointing towards the ceiling.
Keep your neck and head neutral throughout the movement, following the torso naturally
Slowly return to the start
Perform this back mobility exercise on both sides.
5. Cat-Cow Pose
This is another stretch taken from the trusty yoga textbook, and for a good reason. The Cat-Cow Pose helps stimulate and activate the spine and surrounding muscles, stretching the back, neck, and shoulders.
Flowing between the two poses helps promote back flexibility, releasing tension in the aforementioned areas. A great back mobility exercise for before and after your training!
How To Do The Cat-Cow Pose:
Start kneeling down with your knees below your hips, and hands below your shoulders
From the 'tabletop' position, with a flat, straight back and neutral neck position
Lower into the cow pose, exhaling and pushing your stomach down, arching your back while keeping your shoulders and hips in the same position
Move back through the 'tabletop' position, inhaling and pushing the spine up, arching into the Cat Pose
Maintain a steady flow throughout the Cat-Cow pose
Which of these five back flexibility exercises will you be trying first? Let us know in the comments below.
Try our shoulder mobility exercises.
Learn more about how the Gymshark Conditioning App can complement your mobility work. The workout app lets you build custom workouts, track your progress, follow exclusive athlete training plans, and much more. Take a peek, you know you want to.
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Written By: Chris Beck
Chris Beck is Senior Editor at Gymshark, with a passion for curating informative conditioning and health content. Chris is an experienced Personal Trainer, and also holds qualifications in Nutrition, Sports Performance, and is a certified Crossfit Level 1 Trainer.