Spinal Decompression At Home

This blog post will cover 14 different exercises on how to perform your own spinal decompression at home.

Decompression of the structures in the lower back (such as the disc, nerve and/or joint) may help reduce pain and tightness.

It can be helpful in conditions such as:

How to do Spinal decompression at home

spinal decompression of lower back

Key Points To Consider

  • Keep your lower back and legs completely relaxed during the exercises. If you can not relax, the decompression effect will be less effective.
  • Initially – Aim for a small amount of stretch to the lower back. If you provide too much traction force to the structures, there is a chance that your symptoms may aggravate once you complete the exercise.
  • Once your body becomes accustomed the exercises, aim to feel a firm (but comfortable) stretch sensation in the lower back region.
  • All exercises are designed to be completely pain-free. Stop the exercise if your symptoms aggravate.

Read This First:

It is important to perform the following exercise after EVERY decompression exercise.

This is to help gradually return movement into the spine and minimize the risk of any aggravations.

a) Lumbar Rolls and Pelvic tilts

pelvic tilt and lumbar rotations

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back.
  • Bend your knees and keep your feet on the floor.
  • Perform 30 repetitions of the following: (Go Slow!)
    • Rock your knees from side-to-side
    • Tilt your pelvis forwards and backwards

1. Knees to chest

knees to chest to decompress back

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Hug both knees towards your chest.
  • Completely relax your legs and allow the arms to take the full weight of the legs.
  • Gently pull both knees towards your chest.
  • Continue for 30 seconds.

Note: If you are having difficulty with this exercise, perform the exercise with one leg at a time instead.

2. Child’s pose

child's pose to decompress lumbar spine

Instructions:

  • Kneel on the floor.
  • Reach as far away as possible and place both palms on the floor in front of you.
  • Move your buttocks backwards until they are in contact with the back of your heels.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Camel pose

camel stretch to help decompress spine

Instructions:

  • Assume the 4 point kneel position.
  • Tuck your tail bone underneath you.
  • Keep your back completely rounded.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

4. Chair flexion

Lower back stretch

Instructions:

  • Sit on the edge of a chair.
  • Fold your torso between your legs.
  • Relax and “dangle” your torso.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

5. Side decompression

lower quadratus lumborum stretch

Instructions:

  • Start in a standing position.
  • Lean towards the opposite side that you want to stretch.
  • Place both hands on the knee for balance.
  • Lean further towards the side.
  • Allow your upper leg to lift and dangle.
  • Aim to keep your leg and lower back completely relaxed and allow gravity to pull your leg downwards.
  • Do not let your pelvis rotate.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the upper side of your waist.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on other side.

Note: If you are having difficulty maintain your balance, feel free to hold onto something.

6. Posture Reset position

posture reset position

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Support your legs in the 90/90 position. (see above)
  • Use a thin pillow for your neck. (if required)
  • Rest your arms in the “T” or “Y” position.
  • Aim to have your ENTIRE back completely FLAT on the floor.
  • Relax in this position for 15-20 minutes.

7. Manual traction

traction

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Have someone hold onto both of your ankles and provide a gradual pulling force.
  • Keep your legs completely relaxed.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Note: If you find that your body is sliding on the floor when your legs are being pulled, perform the exercise whilst lying on top of a tiled floor. Have the skin on the lower back in contact with the floor. (This will help your body to stick to the floor!)

8. Decompression over a ball

spinal decompression at home

Instructions:

  • Lie on top of a large exercise ball. (Facing downwards)
  • Position your body so that your lower back is in line with the top of the ball.
  • Completely relax your legs and allow them to dangle.
    • Let the weight of your legs pull on the lower back.
  • Support your body using your hands only.
  • Allow the toes to gently rest on the floor.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

9. Hanging off edge of arm rest

spinal decompression exercises for lower back

Instructions:

  • Lie over the edge of an arm chair. (Facing downwards)
  • Lean forwards to place a majority of your weight through your arms.
  • Completely relax your legs and let them dangle.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

10. Chair Hover

decompression of lower back

Instructions:

You will need 2 chairs for this exercise. (A kitchen bench top will work too.)

  • Hold onto the top of the chairs. (See above)
  • Slowly apply pressure into your hands as to take pressure off your feet.
  • Most of your body weight will be going through your arms.
  • Keep your legs and lower torso completely relaxed.
  • Keep your toes lightly rested on the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Do not attempt this exercise if you have issues in your upper limb, shoulder or neck.

Note: Please make sure that the chairs you use are sturdy and can support your body weight.

11. Decompress spine by Hanging

hanging

Instructions:

  • Hang off a bar above your head height
  • Allow your body to completely relax.
  • You can keep your feet lightly rested on the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Note: Do not attempt this exercise if you have issues in your upper limb, shoulder or neck.

12. Towel under Sacrum Stretch

back block

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
  • Lift your hips off the floor and place a block (or rolled up towel) under your sacrum.
    • (Make sure that the block is not directly underneath your lower back!)
  • Straighten your legs so that the feet are in contact with the floor.
  • You should feel a comfortable pulling sensation in your lower back.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds.
  • Lift your bottom upwards and remove the block from underneath you.

13.  Spinal Decompression Devices

The following devices are designed to help you perform your own spinal decompression at home.

(Please consult your healthcare professional prior to using the following.)

a) Anti-gravity boots

b) Mechanical traction

c) Inversion tables

d) Lumbar belts

Make sure to perform Pelvic tilts and Lumbar Rolls once you have completed decompressing your lower back.

14. Sitting technique (Gokhale Method)

Prolonged sitting can increase the amount of compression in your lower back. Here is a great way to take some pressure off your lower back whilst sitting.

Instructions:

(You will need a chair with a back rest.)

  • Place your bottom right into the back corner of the seat.
  • Bend your spine forwards by lowering the lower ribs at the front.
  • Place your hands on the sides of the seat and gently lift your hips off the chair.
  • Lean back and hook your mid back on the back rest.
  • Allow your torso to “slide down the chair” whilst keeping your mid back in contact with the back of the chair.
  • Make sure that your pelvis and lower back are still in a NEUTRAL position!

 Keep your spine ELONGATED as you are sitting!

(Imagine that your rib cage is floating on top of your pelvis.)


Summary

Performing Spinal Decompression at home can help reduce symptoms in your lower back.

These exercises are designed to work by taking pressure off painful structures such as the nerve, disc and joint.

Consult a healthcare professional prior to starting the exercises to see if they are suitable for you.


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!


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. Seek guidance from a healthcare professional before starting any exercise. For more information: Medical disclaimer.

19 thoughts on “Spinal Decompression At Home”

  1. Hi Mark,

    What could cause my left rib cage to stick out while my right rib cage is in? I also notice my left shoulder sits a little higher than my right. I do not have scoliosis, but do have winging scapula due to tight muscles.

    Thank you!
    George

    Reply
    • Hey George,

      Most likely Extension of the left lower back is causing the lower left rib cage at the front to stick out. You might benefit from having a read of this blog post: Flared Ribs.

      Uneven shoulders are usually due to the spine being tilted towards one side (see this post) or one of the shoulder blades is elevated or depressed (see this post).

      If you would like to directly address the winging, see this post: Winged Scapula Exercises.

      All the best!

      Mark

      Reply
  2. Hi,

    I was looking for something to help with my back pain and I found your site. I believe I have hyperlordosis and suffer a lot of discomfort. I have started doing some physio exercises/stretches but feel my ribs are also involved. If I lay on my back it feels like I’m laying on a rock under my right rib cage, could this be connected to the curved back do you think?

    Thanks for the page, very helpful.

    Reply
  3. Hi Mark,

    I just spent my first day using a stand-up desk, and I felt like my back was over-arched. Thankfully Google found your website—I think I have hyperlordosis. I do a lot of yoga so many of your exercises are familiar to me, I just need to tailor them to your recommendations (and cut back on Up Dog and Sphinx Pose!).

    I’m curious to know how much back decompression I should incorporate into my routine. I realize that I have to do lumbar rolls and pelvic tilts between each decompression exercise, so I feel like I would max out at three maybe? Is that too much?

    So glad I found your site Mark. Everything is so well-laid out and well-presented. Thank you for generously sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
    • Hi Justin,

      You can pick 1-3 exercises from the ones listed in this blog post.

      You do not have to do them all. Pick the one that gives you the most benefit and do it often as required.

      Glad you have found the website! Hope it helps.

      Mark

      Reply
  4. These are very very usefull tools to help yourself. It is good to do them carefully and listen to your body. That’s the most important thing. To go with the pace your body tells you.

    I do a variation of No. 8 and 9 for my neck as well. Actually I just gently pull my head “out” and my whole spine elongates. Good stuff.

    Reply
  5. Mark, amazing website. Just tried a few of your exercises and feel better already, will try much more of them very soon! Thank you from Iceland.

    Reply
  6. Hey Mark I’ve been trying to find a right program to help with my posture but it all seems over whelming Im not sure where to start.

    Alot of these programs cost alot of money too.

    Quick background:
    Im 5’8 180 lbs with a big gut but i never want to work out because of my lower back issues ( when doing ab workouts) and neck pain when doing shoulder works ( overhead stuff)

    Ive come to research that i have bad neck posture – nerd neck and curved back and just any ab workouts kill my lowerback so it may be a hip fleor issue?

    Your site also has alot..I was wondering what workouts from your site would u recommend cause theres alot? Atm im only thinking of doing pullups dips or push cause anything else hurts.

    doing eercises against the wall is also hard cause way and nim not fleible

    Reply
    • Hi Yama,

      I hear you. It can definitely be quite overwhelming at the beginning!

      If the lower back is the main thing that is stopping you from working out, I would probably be inclined to address this area first.

      Do you happen to what an anterior pelvic tilt?

      If you do, might be an idea to start with this blog post first.

      If you were looking for some work outs, you can start out by doing the more gentle exercises such as walking and hydrotherapy.

      Mark

      Reply

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