Eight Back Stretches to Alleviate Pain While Working From Home

Try these yoga-inspired stretches during your lunch break.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine, we found ourselves rushing to create a work from home space if we didn’t have one already. Now, with just about a month of working from home under our belts, you may find that your back has started to bother you. Whether it’s because your dining room chair isn’t as comfortable as your office chair, you’re working in a small space, or you spend all day hunched over your makeshift desk, all of these factors and more can take a toll on your back.

To help alleviate some of the pain and discomfort you may be feeling in your back, we spoke with Tatyana Souza, the owner of Coolidge Yoga. She shares eight yoga-inspired back stretches you can do throughout the day to release the tension in your back. If you have them, yoga blocks are recommended, but firm throw pillows will work just as well.

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Souza

1. Supported Fish

This chest opener helps relieve discomfort in your shoulders and chest. Start by setting up a block or pillow on the flat area underneath your shoulder blades, and a second block further up your back underneath the back of your head. Recline back and relax your arms down by your sides, with your palms facing up. Adjust the blocks as necessary to ensure that your chest is higher than your hips and your neck feels long and supported. Take five deep breaths into your chest and allow your shoulders to soften with gravity each time you exhale.

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Souza

2. Supported Bridge

If you sit all day, this pose can relieve tightness in your hips and chest.

Lie on your back and slide one or two blocks stacked on the flat height underneath your sacrum and hips. Stack your feet right underneath your knees and lift your chest toward your chin. Keep the back of your neck long and relaxed. Wiggle your shoulders underneath your back. Take five deep breaths into the whole front of your body.

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Souza

3. Low Lunge

This stretch is ideal for tight hip flexors, which can be caused by sitting all day, and can relieve any low-back soreness you may have.

Step one foot forward and lower your back knee down to the ground (you can place a towel under your back knee for comfort, if desired). Stack your front knee above your foot and keep your hands balanced on your front thigh. Gently hug your navel back and lift your chest upward as you push your front thigh away from you. Explore the depth of your lunge to your comfort level. Hold for five breaths before switching sides.

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Souza

4. Low Lunge with Side Bend

The psoas muscle is located deep within your core and can shorten and become weak when we sit too much. This variation of the low lunge helps target that muscle.

Start in a low lunge with your hips stacked over your back knee. Reach your arms overhead and side bend toward the side of your front knee (for example, if your right leg is forward, you will lunge to the right). You can rest one arm on your front hip for more stability. Hold for three breaths and switch legs and sides.

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Souza

5. Supine Twist

Stretch the muscles along the spine with this pose—a block or throw pillow is optional.

Lie down on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Let both knees drop to one side. If it feels good, you can place a pillow under your knees. Open your arms into a T- or cactus-shape along the floor. Relax your upper body and shoulders. Hold the pose for five breaths, then bring your tucked knees back to center and repeat on the other side.

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Souza

6. Knee to Chest

With this pose, you’ll release tension in your lower back and sacrum (just above the tail bone) and also stretch your hip flexors. A yoga block or throw pillow can be used if you seek a deeper stretch.

Lie on your back and hug one knee into your chest. Straighten your other leg along the ground. Hug your knee into your chest as tight as you can to relieve your lower back. You can also press forward with your straight leg to open up the hip flexors on that side. For a deeper variation, you might choose to place a block or a throw pillow under your sacrum and tailbone. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Souza

7. Supine Figure Four

Open your outer hips and relieve lower back pain with this stretch.

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee and hug your legs into your chest. Hold behind your legs and flex your feet. It may be nice to add a little rock side to side. Continue to lengthen your lower back toward your tailbone along the floor. Hold for five breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Photo courtesy of Tatyana Souza

8. Legs Up the Wall

This pose helps stretch your lower back and hamstrings. It also provides some relief against gravity for your feet and ankles. Use of a throw pillow is optional.

Sit adjacent to a wall. Roll down onto your back as you simultaneously swing your legs up the wall. Scoot your behind as close to the wall as you can, and place a throw pillow underneath your low back if you would like some extra support. Relax your legs into the wall and your arms out by your sides. Stay for ten slow breaths.