10 Back Flexibility Stretches To Improve Mobility & Performance

back flexibility stretches

Back stiffness and discomfort are one of the most common complaints among lifters. In fact, approximately 80% of the global population will experience at least one episode of low back pain within their lifetime.

Many factors contribute to back tightness, however, you can control plenty of them by improving your lifting form and focusing on flexibility routines that include stretching your low back, mid back, hamstrings, glutes, and hips. It’s important to use exercises that focus on flexion and extension (forward and backward) but also bending sideways and side-to-side (twisting).

Below, I’ll share 10 of the best back flexibility stretches to improve mobility and performance. 

Furthermore, I will share with you a quick and effective back flexibility routine you can do before or after workouts to improve back tightness.

Before leaving, check out Fitbod.  On average, a new Fitbod user who trains 3 times a week for about 45 minutes will see a 34% strength increase after 3 months. Try Fitbod for free.

10 Best Back Stretches

The 10 best back flexibility stretches are: 

1. Cat Cow

The cat-cow is a dynamic movement that can be used to gently stretch your back and hips. This exercise can help you take the spine through a full range of motion (bending and flexing) in a gentle manner to work the deep muscles of the back and core to improve flexibility and control.

This should be done slowly and with control, as you want to be able to feel your muscles working to bend and straighten the spine.

How To:

  • Position yourself on the ground with your hands under your shoulders and your knees below your hips.
  • Inhale through the nose and pull your belly upwards as you allow your spine to round upwards (like a cat stretching).
  • Exhale through your mouth and drop your belly towards the floor, taking your lower back into a more arched position (like a cow).

Programming Recommendations:

Do 3-4 sets of 30 seconds hold per side. You can do this before, during, or after workouts, or throughout the day.

2. Chin Drop

The chin drop is a stretch for your upper back as well as the deep muscles along the entire spine. Back stiffness can originate from the next and upper back, and show itself in the lower regions of the back. This is one stretch that can help address all areas of the back.

One technical (but important) note: experiencing a stretch within your neck or the very upper region of your back can signify a therapeutic muscular stretch is occuring. 

However, if you’re experiencing a stretch along your spine in the middle or lower region of your back, it may be more of an indication of tension within your spinal cord, known as dural tension. This tension isn’t necessarily harmful, but it’s worth mentioning since it might further irritate the nervous system, leading to more discomfort or pain within your back. 

If you find this to be occurring, try holding the stretch (mentioned below) for only a single second, and keep the stretch very mild, then return to the starting position and repeat for fifteen to twenty reps. Tight nerves love this type of gentle stretching pattern and typically respond quite favorably.

You can do this standing, seated, or even incorporate it into the other stretches in this list. The key is to not do this quickly as you do not want to jar the neck quickly.

Most people can benefit from doing these as normal daily life (work, sitting at a computer, lifting weights) places a lot of strain on the back of the neck muscles and the traps.

How To:

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and hands behind your back.
  • Slowly exhale through your mouth and drop your chin to your chest, feeling the stretch in the back of the neck.
  • Inhale through the nose, making sure to keep the stretch on the back of the neck, and then repeat as you try to drop your chin further towards your chest with every exhale.

Programming Recommendations:

Do 3-4 sets of 30 seconds hold, either to the center or to the sides. You can also add chin drops to many other stretches as well to get a deeper stretch..

3. Supine Back Stretch (the figure-4 stretch)

This stretch helps to increase the flexibility of the deep lateral rotator muscles within the hip, such as the piriformis muscle, the obturator muscles, and gemelli muscles, all of which are located deep along the backside of the hip and can cause hip stiffness and lower back pain.

How To:

  • Lie down on the floor with your chest up. With both feet bent and on the floor, lift one leg and cross it over the other.
  • The top leg can be turned out so that the knee is pointed to your side, and the shin is running perpendicular to your torso
  • Reach forward and lift the bottom leg up by grabbing your hamstrings and pulling the knee into your chest.

Programming Recommendations:

Do 3-4 sets of 30 seconds hold, either to the center or to the sides. You can do this before or after a workout.

4. Cross-Body Arm Stretch

This is a stretch that targets the upper back, shoulders, and triceps. Back flexibility may be an issue because your triceps and shoulders are tight, so this stretch can be helpful. 

When doing this, you want to try to reach across your body as much as you can to stretch the upper back, and then use your other arm to secure the arm in the stretched position.

How To:

  • In either a standing or seated position, reach one arm across your body as far as you can, and then, using your opposite hand, slowly pull the arm further across your body.
  • Continue to pull the arm further across the body as you exhale and inhale deeply, thinking about feeling the back of the shoulder muscles and upper back muscles lengthen.

Programming Recommendations:

Do 3-4 sets of 30 seconds hold per side. This is a great stretch to do any time of day, even when not working out. 

5. Child’s Pose 

This is a classic lower back stretch that also targets the lat muscles along with the lower portion of the quadriceps muscles. You can do this for longer durations to cool down or relax.

How To:

  • Start by kneeling down onto the floor (use a mat for your knees if needed). Place your hands on the floor directly in front of you.
  • Next, rock your butt back towards your heels while keeping your hands in the same spot on the floor in front of you.
  • Rock back as far as possible (you can let your butt touch your heels, if you have the range to do so). You should feel a gentle stretch along the sides of your back, your upper arms, and maybe even your lower back.

Programming Recommendations:

You can do this for 30 seconds or longer, as this is a great stretch to spend time relaxing. This is best done after workouts or outside of the gym, but it certainly has a time and a place to perform within the gym, depending on your individual needs and goals (you may just want to perform the pose for shorter durations if doing it before or during a workout). 

6. Fan Stretch

This stretch is a hamstring-focused stretch but also can be done to stretch the back out depending on how far you can reach yourself forward. This ideally is done with a partner, however, you can also use a weight to help you gain range of motion.

You can make this exercise one where you hold it down the center, and then move to the sides, or you can do this more in a dynamic manner and go back and forth between the sides and the center. 

The important factor to be aware of with this exercise is that it may not be ideal to perform if your lower back pain is the result of disc issues within your lumbar spine; irritated or unhealthy discs (bulged or herniated discs, as an example). 

Lumbar spine flexion (forwards bending) can often lead to further pain and sensitivity of the disc. As such, if you know your back pain is the result of this type of injury, it may be best to avoid this stretch (and any other stretches that involve forward bending of the spine) until the disc is healthy again.

If you are recovering from a back injury or soreness (that does not involve the discs), you may want to hold the stretches for 30 seconds before going to the sides and back to the center again.

How To:

  • Sit down on the ground and spread your legs apart into a wide “v” in front of you
  • Lean forward and reach your hands out, trying to lengthen your torso while not allowing your tailbone to tuck.
  • Have a partner assist you or place a weight in front of you and move it forward as you gain more range of motion to stay in the stretch longer.

Programming Recommendations:

You can hold this stretch for 30 seconds or longer. This stretch is best done after a workout.

You could use this as a back warm-up as well, going back and forth from side, middle, and side in a slow, but in a dynamic manner.

7. Open Book Stretch

This stretch allows you to address stiffness in the middle back, upper back, shoulders, and chest. 

Back flexibility can be a complex issue and can be limited not only by a stiff back but also by tight shoulders and hips.

This can be done statically, in which you stretch and hold yourself in the rotated position, or done in a slow yet dynamic manner where you move throughout the full range of motion (which is better for a warm-up movement).

How To:

  • Lie on one side of your body with your hips and knees bent at 90 degrees and stacked on top of one another. The higher you pull your hips and knees up towards your chest, the more you’ll confine rotational movement to occur through the middle and upper portion of your spine.
  • Extend your arms out in front of you, and rest your head on the ground. You may want to place a pillow or roll up a towel to place your head on, as this will keep your cervical spine (the neck) more properly aligned.
  • Raise your top arm in an arcing motion, up over your face and back in the direction that you are not facing (as if your arms are a book being opened). Be sure to not move your legs or hips, and let your head and neck freely follow your arm, if needed (so that you don’t irritate your neck)
  • Stop when you feel the stretch in your chest, shoulders, hips, and/or lower back. 
  • You may not be able to go all the way down to the floor yet, and that is ok. Sometimes having a partner there to hold your legs down and help you stretch is helpful.

Programming Recommendations:

If you are doing this as a warm-up, do a slow opening and closing of the book stretch for 30-60 seconds per side. If you want to do this as a cool down or a general stretch, hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds per side.

8. Seated Twist

This stretches the glutes and lower back. The key to this is to have a slight twist in the torso and to not allow the lower back to round.

This stretch is helpful if you have issues doing the open book stretch. When doing this, you want to make sure to keep your lower back flat, and not too arched or rounded, as this will help you stretch more of the glutes and lower back.

How To:

  • Sit down on the floor with both feet out in front of you, making sure to stay upright. This position is known as the long sitting position.
  • Cross one leg over the other (feet on the ground), with the leg bent. 
  • Reach your other arm over the top leg, and twist in the direction of the leg that is crossed over the body. You can use your backhand to help you find a better balance.

Programming Recommendations:

This is a good stretch to hold for 30 seconds per side. You can do this before or after workouts, as well as throughout the day.

9. Foam Roll Upper Back

Foam rolling the upper back can be a good way to relieve muscle tension in the lats, traps, and shoulder stabilizing muscles. 

It can also be very helpful for mobilizing (loosening) the facet joints within your spine. When doing this, you want to move slowly, trying to find areas of tension, and then hold yourself over this spot for 10-30 seconds before moving on to the next spot. 

I often tell clients to try to seek out tight areas, and when they do find one, not to avoid it, but rather stop, place some of their body weight on that spot, and allow the muscle to slowly release tension before moving on.

How To:

  • Lie your upper back on a foam roller with your hands either behind your head or across your chest, as if you were hugging yourself. 
  • If your hands are behind your head, make sure you are not pulling the head up to the body. You could also incorporate a chin tuck.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor, with your belly pulled into your body (no lower back arch).
  • Lift your hips slightly off the floor and roll the foam roller to the bottom of your shoulder blades, then to the top of your shoulder blades (around the base of your neck), looking for areas of tension.
  • Once you find an area of tension, pause, and allow the muscle to contract and then release. 
  • You can also lean more to one side to attack one side more than the other, as sometimes tension is not equal across the upper back.

Programming Recommendations:

While this is often done as a warm-up exercise, you can also perform it during or after workouts or throughout the day. For warm-ups, perform 3-4 sets of 8-10 controlled repetitions before exercise. 

For more general muscle tension relief, slowly roll and search for areas of tension, pausing and holding yourself on the spot until you feel relief.

10. Foam Roll Lower Back

Like the foam rolling for the upper back, the lower back foam rolling exercise can help you address tension in the lower back and hips. 

When doing this, you want to make sure you are not rolling directly along the spine but rather taking time to roll slightly off-center on one side of the lower back, and then do the other.

How To:

  • Lie down placing your lower back on a foam roller, with your hands beside your torso and  the ground for support, and feet flat on the floor. 
  • You may find it to be more comfortable to bend your hips and knees to 90 degrees so that your lower back stays in a more neutral position when the roller is applying pressure to your back. Ultimately, find a lower back position that is best for you.
  • Elevate the hips to place more of your weight on the foam roller, and slowly roll along the lower back in an up-and-down motion, from the hips to the middle of your back.
  • Search for areas of tension, which may mean you need to slightly shift your body to one side to target one side of the lower back more than another.

If you feel a sharp, pinching pain when doing this rolling technique, it often signifies a facet joint that is stuck or otherwise irritated, which can be felt when direct pressure is applied over the joint. 

If the feeling repeatedly occurs each time you roll over a specific area, it will likely be best to try another stretch or exercise until the joint issue resolves.

Programming Recommendations:

You can do this as a warm-up, cool-down, or gentle stretch. You will want to do this slowly, searching for areas of tension. When you find an area, slow down and keep tension on the muscle until it is released.

Sample Back Mobility Routine

sample back mobility routine
Asian sport man in black sportswear stretching arms with cross-body shoulder stretch pose and warming up before weight training in fitness gym. Physical exercise posture for muscle stretching.

The below back mobility routine can be done before or after training, or at another time not around a workout. 

Remember that any back stretches or exercises you do should not be painful. Sensations of stretching or a very mild discomfort are permissible, but remember that it’s best to forego any stretches or exercises that make your back feel worse.

Note, that the stretches below are not found in the Fitbod app.

  • Supine Back Stretch: 30 seconds per side (1 minute total)
  • Cat Cow : 30 seconds, slow and controlled reps
  • Seated Twist 30 seconds per side (1 minute total)
  • Chin Drops: 30 seconds
  • Fan Stretch: 30 seconds per side (1 minute total)
  • Cross-Body Arm Stretch: 30 seconds per side (1 minute total)

Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try Fitbod for free.

What Causes Your Back To Get Tight?

what causes your back to get tight

Backs can become stiff, tight, or sore for numerous reasons; there are multiple tissues and structures that can create altered function and pain. 

While it’s important to understand that not all “hurt” equals harm, trying to ignore the issue and simply “push through it” can lead to more harm than good. 

As such, ensuring you have an understanding of why your back is stiff or tight is a critical action to take, as it can avoid a world of trouble down the road and ultimately prolong your lifting pursuits.

Below are a few common causes of lower back tightness. 

Disclaimer: It is important to note that acute (brand new and short-lived) bouts of low-level back pain may happen after a tough workout.However, in more serious cases it can occur due to abnormal irritation of muscles, joints, tendons, or nerves, or even from physical injury. This article does not aim to give you medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have back pain, contact a trained medical professional.

Reason #1: Lack of Hamstring Flexibility

Lack of hamstring flexibility will often result in a lifter not being able to hinge at the hip joint (bending at the hips without letting the lower back round). 

Without proper hip mechanics, certain movements such as squats, deadlifts, and everyday bending actions may place excessive stress on the low spine. 

As a result, the lower back (anatomically known as the lumbar spine) may move into a flexed (i.e., round, which can lead to shearing stress on the facet joints of the spine and intervertebral discs. The facet joints are the joints that link one vertebra to the next, while the intervertebral discs are the hockey puck-like structures that sit between each vertebra (spine bone). Both of these structures are incredibly important for lower back health.

Unfortunately, the facet joints and discs within the lumbar spine are prone to injury, particularly when subjected to poor positioning and inadequate movement patterns.

As Jim Wittstrom (a physical therapist and strength and conditioning specialist) from Strength Resurgence mentions: 

“Lower back pain from poor hip hinging (either when working out or with activities of daily living) is extremely common. Unlike the awareness we may possess about what position our elbow or our ankle is in, people tend to have poor positional and movement awareness of their lower back, which can lead to various forms of lower back pain”.

When an individual is prone to lacking positional awareness of their lower back, it ultimately leads to abnormal stress and strain of the various tissues and structures within the lumbar spine region. Over time, this can lead to pain, discomfort, and even injury. 

How to Test if You Have This Issue

One of the easiest ways to determine if you have limited hamstring flexibility and determine if this is a cause of your lower back pain is to do the Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR) test. This is a common orthopedic test that serves as a starting point for determining the cause of back pain.

Researchers found that there was a strong correlation between a low ASLR score and lower back pain.

Keep in mind: while it serves as a potential indicator for hamstring tension, you’ll need to take it with a grain of salt, as there are a few other tissues that can limit an individual’s ability to perform the ASLR. 

To do the ASLR hamstrings flexibility test:

  • Lie down on your back with both legs straight. 
  • Perform 3 raises with one leg at a time, keeping the inactive leg straight on the ground and in a neutral position. 
  • As you lift your leg, do not allow your other leg to move at all; it must stay perfectly still, otherwise you may get inaccurate (false) results of the test.
  • The leg raises should be straight as well. 
  • If the front of your ankle passes the middle of the thigh (halfway between the knee and the hip), then you may have adequate hamstring flexibility. 
  • If your ankle can’t move above the mid length of your thigh, then this suggests you could have a limitation in hamstrings flexibility. Again, take this with a grain of salt.

Reason #2: Hip Immobility

If your hips are stiff and immobile, this too will often result in you allowing the lower back and spine to round and extend excessively. 

When the hips are tight, which can be caused by tight hamstrings or glutes, the femur (leg bone) is not able to move properly within the hip socket, which can create stiffness and immobility of the pelvis and legs during movements.

For example, if you have hip immobility during a squat, your lower back may round more at the bottom of the movement (called a butt wink) to allow you to lower yourself more into a squat position, which can result in more bending or excessive arching on the lower back. 

How to Test if You Have This Issue

One of the most common ways to determine if you have a hip mobility issue is the Thomas Test

This is another orthopedic test that has been around for ages. It can help to point you in the right direction for potential causes of hip restriction, but as with the active straight leg raise test, your results should be taken with a grain of salt.

  • This test has you lie on your back on a table, with both feet hanging off the end (your hips are still on the table). 
  • Pull one leg to the chest, and make sure that your other leg is relaxed and straight out in front of you.
  • If you cannot pull the knee to the chest without having your other leg raise upwards, contract and not be relaxed or not stay in line with the table, then you may have a hip mobility issue. 

Reason #3: Sitting for Long Periods of Time

Sitting for long periods is a huge contributor to back pain, as most people slouch in their seats and do not sit on the bottom of the pelvis. 

Some people will end up arching their lower back and tilting their pelvis to the front, sitting on the hamstrings more. Others may slouch in their seat and sit on the back of the hips, which places the lower back in a rounded position. 

If you are sitting, you want to make sure that your pelvis is in a neutral position (rather than having the lower back arched as the hips tip forward). 

For the sake of this article, it may be helpful to think of a “neutral” position of the lower back being one that is halfway between full extension (arching) and full flexion (rounding).

How to Determine If Your Pelvic Posture is Wrong

  • The easiest way to find a good middle ground is to lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • From there, arch your lower back. That is placing your pelvis in an anterior tilt (when the front of your pelvis is tilted too far forward). 
  • Now, try to push your lower back into the floor. This is neutral, however, if you then push your lower back through the floor so hard it is rounded, then that is the posterior pelvic tilt (when the back of your pelvis is tilted too far backward). 
  • Again, it may be helpful to think of your back being held in the middle of either extreme as your neutral position.

A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to flex your abdominals while sitting without pushing your ribcage outwards and feel the lower abs and obliques engage as this is a good indicator your pelvis is in a neutral position.

Reason #4: Poor Form When Lifting

This is one of the most common reasons why you may feel back pain when training, and it is because you are using the incorrect form when doing exercises. 

First, you must determine if you are capable of achieving the correct positions. 

If you are, then you need to control those positions under load throughout every phase of the lift. 

Most people who can achieve positions with lighter loads but lose them with heavier loads are training too heavily.

If you cannot achieve the proper positions and correct form without weights or with light weights, then you need to address your mobility and/or find a movement partner that targets the same muscle groups yet does not create stress on the lower back. 

However, keep in mind that the inability to hold proper form or technique during a lift might not be explicitly due to mobility issues; certain lifts and exercises are more technical than others. 

Often, an individual learning a new exercise will exhibit poor motor control (the ability to control their movement) since the required movement pattern for the lift is foreign. Sometimes, it’s merely a matter of practice.

Pro tip: when his patients and clients are dealing with the “butt wink” during squats, Wittstrom, often has these individuals perform squats with their heels placed on a slanted or raised surface, such as a set of dedicated squat wedges or a 2×6 plank. 

This is a technique that shortens the muscles along the posterior chain (muscles on the back side of the body), often allowing an individual to sink much deeper into a squat while keeping their torso upright and keeping their lower back from rounding.

How to Correct Poor Form

The easiest way to determine if your form is wrong is to record yourself and compare it to exercise tutorials, like the one in the Fitbod app. This form of visual feedback can be profoundly helpful for individuals who can’t quite “feel” the movement taking place throughout the exercise. 

If you find visual feedback to be helpful, you’ll likely also find it helpful to practice the exercise using very slow movement (without load or with very light load). 

This slower movement can oftentimes provide the lifter’s brain and nervous system more time to interpret and correct movement as it’s taking place. 

This is a type of technique known as sensori-motor training, which can be very helpful for certain individuals who need to be better able to feel, interpret, and correct their movement.

You can also ask a trained fitness instructor to assist you in learning the proper form of a movement. 

Reason #5: Overuse of muscles

Overuse of your muscles occurs usually when you are training properly, however, you are under-recovering. This can happen in any program as the back often is trained directly and indirectly every session (especially if you do a lot of compound lifts and free weight exercises).

If you find your lower back is always sore or has some stiffness, achiness, or generalized tightness, then you may be  experiencing symptoms of overuse of your back muscles. 

As such, you may need to switch up workouts to allow some more rest between days or choose exercises that target the muscles you want without adding more stress to the lower back.

For example, someone may do back squats on day one, bent over rows the next, deadlifts the next day, and overhead presses the next. Even though those exercises primarily target other muscle groups (legs, back, back, shoulders), the lower back is still trained (either directly or indirectly) every day on those and has high amounts of loading placed on them.

Instead, maybe you could do back squats the first day, supported rows the second day (to take the stress off the lower back), and seated shoulder presses the next day (take the stress off the back and give one more for the back to recover after squats before hitting deadlifts), and deadlifts to end the week.

How to Tell If You’re Experiencing Overuse of Your Muscles

Overuse of a muscle is often a fine line between training hard enough to stimulate muscular adaptations such as growth and increases in strength, yet not so hard that you are repeatedly over-stimulating and excessively stressing your muscles through a lack of adequate recovery between sessions.

Ideally, you will have only slight muscle soreness in the first 24-72 hours between training sessions. That soreness should be light or moderate, but not debilitating. You should feel soreness in the muscles you trained, rather than the entire body or across joints, and muscles.

Often, your lower back is indirectly getting some level of a workout, even when you are not trying to train it. If you are having a lot of muscle soreness and stiffness in the lower back after leg days and back days (rows and pull-ups, etc.) this may be an indication that you are using too much lower back to lift the weights. 

However, it may also indicate that the functional capacity of your lower back (that is, the muscles’ overall abilities to resist becoming tired or sore due to a lack of strength or endurance) isn’t adequate. 

When muscles cannot hold up to the physical demands they experience (inside or outside the gym) from this lack of functional capacity, they can become sore, tight, and achy.

If you’re not certain as to why this soreness is occuring, you should revisit your form and select exercises that allow you to train the muscles without feeling all of the stress (or most of it) in the lower back.

Reason #6: Muscle Soreness

This is a very common reason why your back is sore, as when training quads, deadlifts, and other exercises your lower back muscles (known as the spinal erectors) are being stimulated to help you hold form or position throughout a lift or to help physically move the body. 

Like any muscle, they can get sore (and often do) due to the physical stimulation and exertional stress they undergo during many exercises.

How to Assess Muscle Soreness Vs. A More Serious Issue

Typically, muscle soreness gradually comes on and then dissipates over the course of 24-72 hours after a workout, and leaves the muscle feeling stiff, sore, and weak. This is a typical sign of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). 

DOMS is a normal part of the muscle-building and recovery process. It is mainly experienced when you are moving the muscle (often doing many of the same movements you did to get it sore in the first place). 

This process of experiencing soreness or pain when producing movement with a muscle is known as mechanical discomfort or mechanical pain, as the symptoms are only felt when physical movement of the affected muscle(s) takes place.

If your muscles hurt while at rest or if you have discomfort not moving them, then this may suggest you are experiencing soreness or pain that is not mechanical in nature, which could indicate that the underlying issue is occuring from something more than just standard muscle soreness.

Reason #7: Serious Injury to Spine

This is obviously the most extreme case, however, it is not unheard of within the world of lifting. 

Sometimes, when this occurs, it is after many other causes of lower back pain have gone undetected by the lifter or have been ignored completely.  

When serious injury occurs, it is often sudden, and you will likely feel it when it happens. However, this is not always the case). 

How to Know if You Have a More Serious Injury (and What to Do Next)

Serious injury typically presents with high or very high levels of pain.  

Serious injury (i.e., the type requiring immediate medical attention) can present with numerous (and very different) types of pain. 

It can feel like it’s sharp, stabbing, burning, throbbing, or an electrical zapping sensation, among plenty of other sensations.  Regardless of how the pain is perceived, serious injury from lifting will very likely be an intense pain. 

Depending on what happens and which structures in the body are affected, it can arise after a workout, after exercise, or even during the exercise itself.  

While it’s not your job to interpret your pain and know what has gone wrong with your back, consider it your job to seek medical help to get a clear verdict of whether or not you have incurred a more serious injury.

If you suspect you may have a more serious injury, it is important that you seek medical attention from a qualified healthcare professional. 

This can be your family doctor, a physical therapist, or any other licensed individual who has orthopedic training (specific knowledge of the muscles, tendons, bones, joints, and nerves of the body). 

Getting an evaluation as soon as possible will help to ensure you get on the road to recovery at a quicker rate and experience an overall more optimal recovery process. 

How Often Should You Work On Back Mobility?

If you are experiencing back stiffness, you will want to do some sort of back mobility in your warm-up or outside the gym. 

The above routine was developed to be able to be done at home, before bed, or in the gym. Ideally, you would be doing this routine (or one like it) 1-3 times a day until back discomfort or stiffness subsides. Just remember that if your stiffness isn’t resolving or getting better after a week or two, it’s likely a good idea to get an evaluation from a qualified healthcare professional.

The key to back mobility training is to do it frequently, rather than doing very long sessions once a day or a few times a week.

Once you have established a better baseline of back mobility, you would perform back flexibility a few times a week as needed.

How Do Beginners Get More Back Flexibility?

Beginners will get more back flexibility in the same way that more advanced lifters will. They can increase their hamstrings and upper back flexibility, train in the full range of motion, and do the above routine daily or a few times a week (if it’s appropriate for them).

If the above routine is too intense for some beginners, they could also look at incorporating yoga into their routine, as this was shown to be a good option.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Flexible Back?

During workouts, research shows that stretches lasting 30 seconds are the most effective at increasing flexibility. They also found that longer stretches, such as ones lasting 30-60 seconds were not any more effective than the shorter, 30-second stretches.

Frequency is key when it comes to improved flexibility, which is why it is suggested to train flexibility in small, frequent bouts, sometimes a few times a day. Ideally, you would do some sort of stretching and flexibility training for a few minutes throughout the day, every day.

How Can I Improve My Back Mobility?

Improving back mobility comes from increasing hamstring and hip mobility and decreasing lower back pain. To do this, you will need to first address any flexibility issues in the surrounding muscle groups (hamstrings, hips, and upper back). You can do this by incorporating the back mobility routine above a few times a day, every day until you find relief.

About The Author

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.