11 Best Erector Spinae Stretches For Pain Relief

Do you have tight and/or painful back muscles?

This blog post will list the 11 best Erector Spinae Stretches to help address this problem.

Erector Spinae Muscle:

erector spinae muscle location

The Erector Spinae is a group of muscles (Iliocostalis, Longissimus, Spinalis) that attach from the back of pelvis, torso and neck.

Disclaimer: The content presented on this blog post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole risk. For more information: Medical disclaimer.


Start here:

Before performing the Erector Spinae stretches – I strongly encourage you to release these muscles first.

(This can help the stretches be even more effective!)

how Do you Release the Erector Spinae?

erector spinae muscle massage ball releases

Instructions:

  • Locate where the Erector Spinae muscles are.
    • (Use Google if you are not sure.)
  • Lie down on your back.
  • Position your body so that the Erector Spinae muscles are directly top of a massage ball.
  • Apply as much of your body weight as you can comfortably tolerate.
  • Keep your body completely relaxed!
  • Slowly circle around the target area and pause at any areas that elicit more tenderness.
  • Duration: Aim for 2-5 minutes.
  • Repeat on each side.

How to stretch the Erector Spinae

To stretch the Erector Spinae muscles effectively, you will need to place the lower back in positions which may potentially aggravate the lumbar spine. Please be careful!


Note: Stretching is all about a “game of angles”. It is important that you position your body appropriately to ensure that you target the exact area where you are trying to stretch.


Region: Lower back

1. Knees to chest

knee to chest stretch

Instructions

  • Lie down on your back.
  • Hug both knees towards your chest.
  • Keep your legs completely relaxed.
    • Allow the arms to take the full weight of the legs.
  • Your lower back should be completely flat against the floor.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in both sides of the lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

2. Child’s pose

child pose stretch

Instructions

  • Kneel down on the floor.
  • Reach your hands as far forwards as possible and place both palms on the floor in front of you.
  • Sink your hips backwards towards the back of your heels.
  • Relax your body.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in both sides of the lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • To increase stretch on one side: Reach more towards the opposite side.

3. Forward fold

lower erector spinae stretch in sitting

Instructions:

  • Sit on the edge of a chair.
  • Have your knees facing outwards.
  • Fold your torso between your legs.
  • Make sure that you torso is completely relaxed in this position.
    • “Dangle” your torso.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

4. Decompression over a ball

lower back decompression erector spinae stretch

Instructions:

  • You will need a large exercise ball for this exercise.
  • Lie facing downwards on top of the exercise ball.
  • Position your body so that your lower back is approximately in line with the top of the ball.
  • Completely relax your legs and let them dangle.
    • Allow the weight of your legs to pull on the lower back.
  • Support your body using the hands only.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Note: If you don’t have an exercise ball, you can assume the same position on the edge of a bed or a high bench.

5. Camel

camel pose

Instructions:

  • Assume the 4 point kneel position.
  • Proceed to round your entire spine.
  • Tuck your tailbone underneath you.
  • Bring your chin towards your upper chest
  • Engage your abdominal muscles to hold this position.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

6. Hip shift

unilateral lower erector spinae stretch in standing

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, place your hands on your hips.
  • Tuck your tail bone underneath by engaging the gluteal muscles.
  • Push your hips directly towards the side you want to stretch.
  • Whilst maintaining this pressure, start to push your pelvis diagonally backwards.
  • Lean your torso forwards.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

7. Side decompression

lower back erector spinae stretch

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, place both hands on your knee.
  • Lean all the way over to that side.
  • Allow your upper leg to lift and dangle.
    • Keep it relaxed!
  • Allow gravity to pull your leg down.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

7. Larger stretch

lat stretch

Instructions:

  • Assume the position above.
  • Hold onto a door frame with your hand.
  • Whilst anchoring your legs as shown, aim to bend your mid section as much as possible.
    • Use your body weight to sink into the stretch
  • Twist your pelvis away.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the back/side of your torso.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Region: Middle/Upper back

8. Full neck flexion with hunch

upper erector spinae stretch in sitting

Instructions:

  • Sit down on a chair.
  • Nod your chin down towards the upper chest.
  • Interlock your fingers behind the back of your head.
  • Whilst keep in the chin in the nodded position, gently pull your head downwards.
  • Allow the upper back to bend forwards as much as possible.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in your thoracic spine area.
  • Take a deep breath in to increase the stretch sensation.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

9. Middle back (One side)

middle upper back stretch

Instructions:

  • Sit down on a chair.
  • Hunch forwards as much as possible.
  • Place your left hand at the back of your head.
  • Place your right hand on the outside of the left knee.
  • Pull your head down in the direction of the left knee.
  • Whilst maintaining this pressure, start to bend your UPPER torso towards the left knee.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the right side of your back.
  • Try to take deep breaths in this position.
  • To increase the stretch: Try to slide your torso towards the right.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on other side.

10. Standing Forward fold

thoracic erector spinae stretch

Instructions:

  • Bend over and reach under your toes.
  • Lock your finger tips underneath your toes.
  • Tuck your chin towards your chest. Relax you arms. Lean backwards as you pull your upper back towards the sky.
  • Take a deep breath in to increase the stretch.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds.
  • Note: Take care with this stretch if you have lower back issues.

11. Backward Fold

Note: This stretch is an advanced stretch for the Erector Spinae muscle group. BE CAREFUL! Only attempt if you know your body can safely tolerate this position.

upper erector spinae stretch on floor

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back.
  • Brings your legs up and over your head.
  • This will place pressure on the back of your neck and upper torso.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the middle of your upper back.
  • Hold for as long as you are comfortable.

Conclusion

If you suffer from any tightness or pain in the back, consider trying these Erector Spinae stretches!


What to do next

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the exercises!

15 thoughts on “11 Best Erector Spinae Stretches For Pain Relief”

  1. Hey Mark, could you please give me advise what to do with (probably?) hip impingement? For first and second stretch there it´s hard and painful to bring closer my kneeds to chest. Same pain is during deeper squat position, bringing knee to chest, child´ś pose, dead lift lower position. Best stretch for me is now 3rd variant on the chair, where I feel a lesser pain. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Hi Mark, I have a burning/pulling pain under my right shoulderblade and its there when I sit or lay down in any position, but not when standing. I was a left side sleeper but i get a terrible pulling/ burning pain so I sleep on my back but even that burns.
    I have a desk job, and i look down when using my phone. I think I may have rounded shoulders, foward neck posture, and an anterior pelvic tilt. My left shoulder is higher than my right, and I do have a minor left side rib flare ( but im not sure if any of this is relavant ).
    I previously thought it was a rhomboid issue because I was a side sleeper and had many of the symtoms, and at rest my pain pertained to that area, but when i tried exercises 8 & 9 I got a terrible pulling pain in almost the entire section of the right rectangle in the first image, as well as below my right shoulder blade ( not so much lower back just upper an mid ). The more I hunched the worse it got. The area of the pain was also almost exacly where the Xs are on the right side of your 17 thoratic spine stretches blog. It desnt hurt if I tried these exercises fr the other side, looking down to my right armpit, all my pain is on the right.
    The traveling pain when I attempted 8 & 9 made me doubt it was rhomboid issue becase I hadnt read about any one elses pain traveling. Could it be a thoratic/cervical spine issue if its only on the right side?
    I just want to get a good nights sleep and work without constant back pain

    Reply
    • Hi Emily,

      If the addition of looking down towards the opposite side of the pain whilst performing these stretches, this suggests that it could be the trapezius and/or erector spinae muscles. (If it was purely the rhomboid, this stretch sensation would generally stay the same when adding the looking down position)

      If you sustain the stretch over a long period of time, does the stretch decrease? If this is the case – it is likely stretching the muscles. If it gets worse (or if you develop symptoms such as tingling), you may be stretch the nerve that runs down between the shoulder blade and spine.

      Cervical issues can some times run down this area as well. (usually involving C5,6 or 7)

      If the issue is only on the right side, it could be the posture. You have mentioned a high left shoulder and left flared rib. This implies that your spine may be side bending towards the right. This would be associated with tightness in the erector spinae muscles on the right side at that specific level of side bend.

      Mark

      Reply
  3. I have a burning pain under right shoulder blade, and entire area of right rectangle gets terrible pulling oain when preforming exercises 8 & 9

    Reply
    • Hi Emily,

      If you persist with the stretches 8 and 9, does the burning sensation start to decrease? It could be due to the tight muscles in this region.

      If it gets worse or if you start to develop symptoms such as tingling, you may be over stretching the nerve. In this case – you’d be best to minimize the amount of vigorous stretching.

      Mark

      Reply
  4. Hi Mark,

    Thank you for posting these stretches. They feel really good. My erector spinae muscles look (and feel) very tight, as they protrude a lot, making a deep ridge in the lower half of my back. Will these stretches relax this protrusion? I know I have an anterior pelvic tilt, so I’m trying to work on that as well.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  5. Hi thanks for the exercise.

    i have rwo question first one is about the number 1

    If i do it on flat ground when the i do full range of motion the bones touch the ground and hurt a bit. Should i keep a netral spine while doing it or i have to curve like you the back spine with a carpet and like an abdominal exercice. So i tract the legs the more possible like you or i tract a bit and keep my pelvis stay neutral like when I’m standing.

    For the 2 when i do it my butt on butt wings i can do the stresh like a camel stresh. Its bad for spine ? I should keep like that or stay up to keep like you ?
    Put the spine is these positions is good ? Its like I’m scared of doing them but i think is because i hear a lot about spine and back idea x)

    Thanks for help

    Reply
    • Hey Arnaud,

      1. Sorry – I am having some difficulty understanding your question. Which stretch are you referring to?

      2. Camel stretch is generally fine to do if it is not hurting.

      Always listen to how your body responds to the stretches. If anything causes pain, you should stop and seek help from a health professional.

      Mark

      Reply
  6. Hey Mark,

    These stretches have made a huge difference in my back pain. Do you have any recommendations for strength training as I fix my posture problems? I’d love to continue to lift weights without making anything worse.

    Thank you,

    Mark

    Reply
    • Hi Mark,

      The general rule is to continue with all of your strengthening exercises as long as you are not making your pain worse.

      If anything – your weight program will make your back even stronger and more resilient.

      Make sure that you have the correct technique (especially with squats, deadlifts, bent over rows etc), engage your core and maintain a neutral spine.

      Mark

      Reply

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