A little bit of daily stretching can relieve a sore spine, and doing so regularly can even help prevent back pain altogether. But make sure you’re stretching properly — the wrong form can lead to injury.

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Jayme Burrows/Stocksy United

From slouching at your desk to overdoing it at the gym, many everyday activities can lead to back pain. Regular stretching helps protect your back by increasing flexibility and decreasing the risk of injury.

It can also help prevent soreness if you do it after strength exercises.

Speak with a healthcare professional before starting a new back exercise program, especially if you have a history of spinal problems or back injury. Then, follow these general guidelines:

  • Warm up: Cold muscles can lead to injury. Warm up with 5–10 minutes of light activity like walking or pedaling a stationary bike at a comfortable pace.
  • Go slow: Move into the stretch slowly, avoiding bouncy or jerky movements.
  • Don’t overdo it: Only stretch to the point where you feel mild tension. It shouldn’t hurt.
  • Relax: Slowly ease into the stretch and hold for at least 30 seconds.

Here are three easy stretches that help keep your back limber and healthy.

  1. Lie on your back on the floor with your legs extended.
  2. Lift and bend your right leg, bringing the knee toward your chest.
  3. Grasp your knee or shin with your right hand, and pull your leg as far as it will comfortably go.
  4. Remain in the knee-to-chest position while tightening your abdominal muscles and pressing your spine into the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.
  5. Return slowly to your starting position.
  6. Do the same with your left leg.
  7. Do the same with both legs at once.
  8. Repeat the sequence 5 times.
  1. Begin on your hands and knees on the floor. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders with your arms straight.
  2. Rock forward, putting your weight onto your arms. Round your shoulders, and let your seat drop a little. Hold for 5 seconds.
  3. Rock backward, sitting your buttocks as close to your heels as possible. Keep your arms extended straight ahead. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Repeat 5 times.
  1. Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Put the palms of your hands on your lower back. Take a few slow, deep breaths to relax.
  3. Bend your upper body backward, keeping your knees straight. Support your back with your hands. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Return slowly to your starting position.
  5. Repeat 5 times.
  1. Sit on the floor with both legs straight in front of you.
  2. Bend your left knee into your chest and place your foot just outside your right thigh.
  3. Place your right arm on the outside of your left thigh and your left hand behind you for support.
  4. Gently twist as much as feels comfortable.
  5. Hold for up to 1 minute and repeat on the other side.
  1. Get on all fours with hands and knees on the floor
  2. Press into your hands and feet, grounding yourself.
  3. Inhale deeply, then exhale, tucking your chin to your chest, rounding your spine toward the sky.
  4. On your next inhale, drop your belly button to the floor, rounding your spine the other way.
  5. Continue this pattern of movement for 1–2 minutes.

Stretching may help to relieve and prevent lower back pain by improving muscle endurance. It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program. You should also talk to a doctor if your pain doesn’t improve with stretching or worsens.