When you’re dealing with the aches and oftentimes debilitating soreness of lower-back pain, there’s a good chance all you want to do is stay in bed. Yet research published in JAMA found that any kind of exercise—whether it’s core strengthening, aerobic exercise, or stretching—is the best way to ease pain and reduce the risk of another back pain attack.
The nice thing about gentle stretching is that it’s feasible to do when you’re in pain—and often provides the fastest relief, says Jamie Costello, fitness director at the Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa, who recommends these five stretches for the next time back pain strikes.
This common yoga posture gently stretches the muscles of the low back, which are likely contracted if you’re in pain.
How to do it: Begin on your hands and knees on the floor, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Reach out directly in front of you, extending your arms and placing your palms flat on the floor. Slowly sit your hips back toward your heels, dropping your head and chest downward as your arms extend further.
This dynamic movement moves the low back muscles in two directions, building on Child’s Pose to help lengthen contracted muscles and soothe soreness.
How to do it: Begin on your hands and knees on the floor, with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Your spine should be parallel to the ground in this position. Then, round your back, stretching your mid-back between your shoulder blades—similar to how a cat stretches by rounding its back.