Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a disc bulge that’s causing sciatica and constant lower back, or you’re looking for safe stretches that can take the load off your lower back and give you instant relief, then you’ve come to the right place.
Below you’ll find 7 great stretches specific for lower back pain and sciatica. These stretches will target specific muscles that tend to tighten up quickly with repetitive movements such as hip or spinal flexion (for example, spending hours sitting on the computer, reading or texting). I’ll explain the muscles that the stretches target below.
I’ve created a video of the top 5 stretches with some additional tips for you. But I’ve recently added two additional stretches specific for sciatica, so scroll down below the video to view the full list.
Lower Back Pain Stretches
Latissimus Dorsi Stretch
This is a fantastic stretch to release the latissimus dorsi. It’s the biggest muscle in the upper body. It also attaches to your pelvis and when it gets tight, it pulls the pelvis forward contributing to that anterior pelvic tilt.
The quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle will also get a nice deep stretch. The QL muscle is a deep abdominal muscle that also gets tight easily because we use it a lot when standing, sitting or walking. It helps stabilize the pelvis and holds out posture.
You can also use a foam roller to release the latissimus dorsi. Please don’t foam roll your lower back because you’ll be pressing directly against the spine, and you don’t want to do that. Foam roll your upper and middle back, but don’t go lower than that.
90 Degree Chair Stretch
This is one of my favorite stretches. By getting into that 90-degree posture, you’re disengaging your shoulders and letting your chest fall forward, opening up your pectoral muscles. This helps fix that forward head-rounded shoulder posture which puts load on the spine.
This stretch also puts the hips back in alignment. It’s normal to not be able to keep your legs completely straight. So if you have to bend your knees a little, go ahead and do that. I find it’s easier to stretch one leg at a time as you’re working toward a complete 90-degree angle.
90 Degree Chair Stretch
The hip flexors get chronically tight after sitting for a long period of time. This has an effect on your lower back. The tight hip flexors will inhibit the glutes from working properly and the load will be placed on your lower back.
Make sure you always stretch your hip flexors after a long day of sitting and also working on strengthening your glutes. As I mention in the video, it’s important to not lean forward too much to target the PSOAS (the biggest hip flexor muscle).
You need something to hold on to so you can drop into that deep squat position without falling back. I don’t have anything heavy in my mini-gym space so I’m using a heavy kettlebell. You can use a door or a heavy item of furniture
Pectoralis Major Stretch
You may be wondering how stretching your pectoralis (chest) muscles are going to help your lower back pain or sciatica. Well, let me explain… The body is an interconnected kinetic chain. Any load or stress placed on the neck and upper back will have an effect on the lumbar spine, hips and even the knees.
And because most of our daily activities involve typing, texting, driving or writing, it’s easy to develop very tight chest muscles leading to rounded shoulders and a flexed spine. And you want to avoid spinal flexion if you want to keep your back healthy.
Spinal flexion can lead to not only chronic lower back pain but also contribute to spinal disc herniation and sciatica. So keep your back straight and if you need to bend forward, always initiate the movement from the hips. And stretching the chest muscles will help you maintain alignment.
Stretches For Sciatica Relief
These two additional stretches are specific to sciatica. I recommend you keep stretching to a minimum if you have chronic sciatica because you don’t want to further irritate the nerve. But these two stretches are safe and, in my experience, the most effective.
Downward Dog – Hamstring Stretch
You want to start in the plank position, push your hips up and stretch out your back. You can keep your knees bent and slowly stretch out one leg at a time. If you feel you’re lacking flexibility, that’s okay. When you are in pain, muscles tend to spasm and tighten up to protect the area that’s inflamed, so don’t force it. Just find that sweet spot where you can slowly stretch the hamstrings without triggering pain.
90-Degree Wall Stretch
This is another one of my favorite stretches. I usually do this stretch against the wall. But, you can also start by using your arms and slowly transition into the wall. You want to sit as upright as possible with your legs straight out and toes pointing towards you.
When I do this stretch against the wall, I always get immediate relief from any tension in my hips or lower back. It’s important to keep your back straight here and if you’re doing it against the wall, you want your shoulder blades to be touching the wall at all times.