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Exercise Resources


Published March 7, 2023

A busy routine or living a sedentary lifestyle can easily result in a tight lower back. This common type of pain can impact your ability to perform a broad range of daily activities, including simply bending over to pick something up. If it’s not taken care of, a tight lower back can worsen and lead to more serious problems, further restricting your mobility.

If you’re prone to developing a tight or sore lower back after a day in the office, here’s our list of the best stretches for tight lower back relief.

Causes of a tight lower back

Having a hands-on job, overtraining or practising too much sedentary behaviour can cause your tight back. Inactivity creates weak muscles which can then lead to pain in the lumbar spine.

Often you can develop a tight lower back to compensate for an issue in another part of the body—for example tight hamstrings, hip flexors and gluteal muscles can contribute to soreness. This is why it’s important to seek advice from a medical professional if your pain is severe and sharp.

Some other common causes of a tight lower back include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Stiff or irritated joints
  • Weak abdominal muscles due to inactivity
  • Pinched nerves
  • Poor posture
  • Arthritis
  • Obesity
  • Psychological stress
  • Age-related changes in the spine

Importance of stretching

Doing some suitable stretches daily can greatly improve flexibility and mobility. They keep your muscles flexible, strong and healthy, and can improve blood circulation so your body can get the nutrients it needs. Doing your stretches regularly can even decrease your risk of injuries in the future.

Here are a few examples of the best stretches for tight lower back relief. When completing the following gentle stretches, ensure you are breathing throughout and resting in between.


Exercise 1: ‘Side Stretch’

This exercise targets your lower back one side at a time. It’s easy to do and you don’t need any equipment or much space to complete it. If you feel a sharp pain, discontinue the exercise or rest until it disappears.

  • Set yourself up in a seated starting position
  • Clasp both hands together under one thigh
  • Gently stretch your nose down towards the floor outside the thigh you are holding (you should feel the stretch in your opposite lower back)
  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds
  • Repeat the stretch with the other side

Exercise 2: ‘Knee Rocking Stretch’

This stretch is excellent if you’ve been lifting heavy objects all day and need to loosen up. Having a yoga mat or mattress beneath you is advisable as a stabiliser for this exercise.

  • Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet together on the floor
  • Hold the sides of your mat with your hands
  • Roll your knees side to side
  • For a more advanced version, lay your right leg flat and with your right hand, pull your bent knee towards the opposite side. Then, repeat this step with your left leg lying flat and your right leg pulled towards the opposite side.
  • Hold the stretch for a few seconds each side
  • Complete 10 rotations as a minimum as long as you don’t experience sharp pain

Exercise 3: ‘Knee To Chest Stretch’

This particular stretch is great for a sore lumbar region and can greatly improve hip mobility and ease lower back tension. Be careful not to jerk your legs during this exercise – it’s best to start slow and work up from there.

  • Lay on your back with a mat beneath you
  • Bend your knees and wrap your arms around your legs
  • Gently bounce your knees towards your chest for about 20 seconds, taking care not to pull too hard
  • This should be comfortable and not cause sharp pain

All exercises where pain is present should be performed under the advice of a qualified health professional. If exercises performed increase your pain, stop immediately and seek advice from a health professional.

These exercises aim to loosen and relieve tight muscles in the lower back and should not cause or worsen any existing pain.

How to prevent lower back pain

Protecting your lower back is the best way to prevent lower back pain from occurring in the first place. Some ways to prevent lower back pain include:

  • Use an ergonomic desk chair
  • Strengthen your core
  • Protect your back when lifting
  • Stay active
  • Stretch regularly

woman stretching her lower back

How physiotherapy can help

Visiting a physiotherapist will give you a clearer understanding of your condition and guide you through the best stretches for tight lower back pain. They will be able to design and assist you in implementing a personalised exercise program and stretching routine that will focus on your specific needs.

After an assessment of your condition, medical history and goals, a physiotherapist will guide you through your unique exercise plan and educate you on the benefits of each movement.

Seeing a physio for back pain is a preferred treatment in order to reduce recovery time and the risk of chronic pain in the future. Guided movement from a physiotherapist is a great pain management tool as it offers long-term solutions and can improve quality of life in pain sufferers hugely.

At Integrity Physio, we have a dedicated team of physiotherapists ready to answer all of your questions and help you manage your pain. Reach out to our friendly team today.

Leslie Trigg

Director & Senior Physiotherapist at Integrity Physiotherapy Leslie Trigg, has over 15 years of experience in clinical practice. He has graduated with a degree in Human Biology (Anatomy and Physiology) from Curtin University in 2001 and later completed a Masters of Physiotherapy in 2007. He has tremendous experience in musculoskeletal, orthopaedic, neurosurgical and sports physiotherapy. In his spare time, he enjoys swimming, listening to music and spending time with his family.