Lower Back Stretches for Runners

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Here are five of my favourite lower back stretches for runners

The lower back stretches featured in the video above are great for providing relief from lower back pain after running.

Before you jump straight into the different exercises though, it’s important for me to mention that there are of course numerous different potential causes for the tightness and pain in your back.

Sometimes the muscles of the low back get tight and feel like they need stretching as a result of weakness, or to protect a more significant injury… just to highlight a couple of examples.

It’s important that if you’re regularly experiencing lower back pain and stiffness, that you get a physical therapist to assess your back and determine the root cause.

cobra stretch for running back pain

1. Cobra Stretch

The cobra stretch from the elbows is a gently way of stretching your low back into extension from top-down, you can then progress to supporting yourself on your hands as your extension improves.

Begin by lying face-down on the floor. Bring your hands palms down in-front of your face and press your forearms into the ground to lever your chest off the floor.

Be sure to breathe out as you push yourself off the ground.

When this is easy, you can progress onto working with straight arms, pushing only through your hands. This will increase the amount of extension required from your low back.

This exercise is particularly good for those who suffer from lumbar disc problems and sciatica. Those who have irritable lumbar facet joints, however should avoid it.

childs pose for running back pain

2. Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a fantastic stretch into lumbar flexion, as well as thoracic extension.

Begin by kneeling upright. From there sit back onto your heels, and band forward to bring your torso down to the ground.

Reach your arms forwards and feel your chest sink downwards to the ground as you breathe out and relax.

This lower back stretch is fantastic to reach muscular tightness in the low back, but should be approached with caution if you know you suffer from a lumber disc bulge or prolapse.

knee hugs for low back stiffness after running

3. Knee Hugs

Knee hugs are a super-simple way of achieving a stretch through the muscles of the low back, while also working on hip flexion.

Lying on your back on the ground, bring both knees up towards your chest and wrap your arms around them, hugging them tightly.

You can do this lower back stretch either with both legs, or one at a time.

knee dropsknee hugs for low back stiffness after running

4. Knee Drops

One of my favourite exercises to work on lumbar stiffness is the simple knee drops exercise.

Lying on your back, you can either do this with your feel flat on the ground, or with them elevated, making the exercise more difficult.

Place your arms directly out to your sides, which will help to keep your shoulders down as you drop your knees from side to side.

You should aim to keep your knees and ankles together as you allow your knees to drop together slowly, with control from the left to the right, and back again.

iron crossknee hugs for low back stiffness after running

5. Iron Cross

The Iron cross exercise is a somewhat more advanced option, which will not only give you a good low back stretch, but also in many cases a lateral hamstring stretch too – depending where you’re tight.

As per the knee drop exercise, spread your arms out to your sides and aim to keep your shoulders on the ground as you perform the drill.

From there keep one leg relatively straight and kick the other leg across towards the opposite hand.

As with any exercise, if this causes you any discomfort, make sure you stop and seek professional advice.

Good luck with these lower back stretches. I’m sure they will help with your back pain if you work on them gently over the coming weeks.

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Last updated on March 7th, 2021.