A trainer recommends these four stretches to relieve back pain after a long day sitting

Relieve your sore, stiff back with these four simple stretches

man doing back stretches
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a sedentary 9 to 5 job, then your back is probably prone to a bout of stiffness now and again. Heading out for a quick walk, doing strength training, a Pilates or yoga class, can all help relieve this but, if you’re pushed for time, then give these four stretches a go from Luiz Silva, Head of Fitness & Wellbeing and Personal Trainer at Castle Royle .

"These four stretches flow into a nice routine and mobilise and stretch the back chain of muscles" says Luiz. "These muscles usually get really tense and tight, so it will help release them, while also increasing the range of motion through the whole spine." Perform 15 to 30 seconds of each exercise below, moving from one movement into the next as Luiz advises. It also makes a great routine to do at the end of a workout too.


1. Cat stretch

Luiz doing the cat stretch

(Image credit: Future)

This is a popular yoga pose that can bring flexibility to the spine as it moves it from extension into flexion. It can also help ease tension in the lower back, shoulders and neck.

To do:

  • Place your hands and knees on floor under your shoulders and hips, keeping the back nice and flat like a table top.
  • Arch the back as much as possible by pushing your hands and knees into the floor, and ‘crunching’ the abs by drawing the belly button in towards the spine.
  • Return to the start position and repeat.

2. Cobra

Luiz doing the cobra stretch

(Image credit: Future)

The cobra pose is particularly good if you've been sat all day because, not only does it stretch out your back, but your chest, abs and hip flexors. One study even showed that practicing yoga for 12 weeks (which included the cobra pose), helped improve lower back pain.

To do:

  • Begin by lying face down with your hands on the floor by your lower ribs.
  • Lift your chest off the floor as high as possible, by pushing your hands into the floor and look up towards the sky/ceiling. 
  • Keep your hips pushed towards the floor to really work on the lower back mobility.

Tip: If you have poor lower back mobility, place your hands by your shoulders instead of by the lower ribs, and lift just the chest off the floor.

3. Downward facing dog

Luiz doing the downward dog

(Image credit: Future)

The downward dog actually stretches out many of your posterior chain muscles at once, including your back, hamstrings, calves and ankles. It's not the easiest of moves for everyone to get into, so make sure you check out Luiz's tip below.

To do:

  • From the Cobra stretch position, lift your hips and legs off the floor and towards the ceiling by hinging at the hips, whilst bringing your head down towards the floor, in between your arms/shoulders
  • Try to keep the knees as straight as possible and push the heels down towards the floor.

Tip: If you have tight hamstrings, you’ll struggle to keep your knees and back straight during a hip hinge, so just bend your knees until you find a comfortable back position (like in the photo).

4. Child's pose

Luiz doing the child's pose

(Image credit: Future)

If there's one stretch that can give you that really satisfying feeling, it's the child's pose. It's another popular movement that dominates yoga and Pilates classes, and for good reason, as it offers a nice stretch to the back, shoulders and the muscles around your hips.

To do:

  • From the downward facing dog position, place your knees and shins on the floor with
  • the top of your feet against the floor, and the soles facing up.
  • Push the butt back until it ‘sits’ on your heels, whilst keeping your hands on the floor and arms stretched out in front of you. 
  • Drop your head in between the shoulders as much as possible towards the floor.
Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.