These pregnancy stretches for lower back pain have been game changing in my second pregnancy! I know very well just how frustrating pregnancy back pain can be, especially if you are hauling other kids around with you too. I am currently 20 weeks pregnant and these stretches are my life line.
This post is all about the best pregnancy stretches for lower back pain so that you can start feeling like yourself again too!
This post contains affiliate links.
Pregnancy Stretches for Lower Back Pain
What causes back pain in pregnancy?
Back pain is unfortunately a very common pregnancy symptom. There are a number of reasons for this. As your body prepares for labor, an increase in a hormone called relaxin will cause ligaments in your pelvic area to stretch and soften. Those ligaments will then have to support more and more weight as your baby grows. If you aren’t careful, your center of gravity can gradually move forward and your posture can slowly shift in a way that puts more pressure on your back. With less support from your ligaments and more weight to carry, it’s no wonder back pain is a common pregnancy struggle many of us can relate to. That’s exactly why I developed this list of my favorite pregnancy stretches for lower back pain.
What areas should you stretch for lower back pain?
When it comes to pregnancy stretches for lower back pain, it’s so important to not only focus on the lower back but on the surrounding muscle groups too. Areas like the quads, hamstrings, hips, glutes, IT bands, or piriformis muscles can actually be major contributors to lower back pain if they are underdeveloped or too tight. It’s important that these areas are not only strengthened through exercise but also stretched too.
Before you begin
Before you begin any of these pregnancy stretches for lower back pain or any other exercise, you should always clear it with your doctor. Every pregnancy is different. What is safe for one pregnancy might not be safe for another. Also keep in mind that the hormone relaxin is steadily increasing as your pregnancy progresses. This means that your ligaments are looser than they were prior to pregnancy. So always be careful to stretch slowly and gently. Don’t stretch further than you normally would before pregnancy and ALWAYS stop if it hurts.
- My Yoga Mat– When it comes to yoga or stretching workouts, I love having a yoga mat that I can take with me anywhere! I can stretch in the living room if I feel like it or out in the yard in the sunshine! I could no longer find the exact mat I have online, but this 1/2 inch high density mat is very comparable! The extra padding is great on sore pregnancy joints!
- My Outfit- Both my workout shorts and my sports bra are actually from Aerie! Their Real Me Smocked Running Shorts will stretch with you as you grow and are also perfect for postpartum! My sports bra is the Real Me Hold Up Sports Bra. It is honestly one of the most comfortable bras I’ve ever owned but is still super supportive through any workout!
- My Smart Watch- My husband and I both have Garmin smart watches and love them! I personally have the Garmin Venu in Rose Gold and Tan. It’s feminine and stylish to wear on a daily basis but it also gives me valuable information about my health and my workout! Not only can you track things like your heart rate to make sure it is staying in a safe zone while pregnant, but you can also upload your workouts right to your watch. It even displays demos of how to do each exercise on the watch screen as you go through your workout!
17 Pregnancy Stretches for Lower Back Pain
1. Sumo Shoulder Drop
Targeted Muscle Groups: Hip adductors, glutes, and groin
- Start by moving your feet wider than shoulder width apart and keeping your toes facing outward.
- Pushing your butt backwards, lower down into a sumo squat. Aim to get your upper thigh parallel with the ground if you can.
- Place your hands on the inner side of your knees. Your elbows will still have a slight bend.
- Press one hand against the knee on that same side while straightening your arm and rotating your torso towards the opposite side. Make sure to not twist beyond what feels comfortable and to twist very slowly.
- Hold for a few seconds and then do the same on the other side.
- Continue alternating until you’ve done 5-6 reps on each side.
2. Crossed leg Leaning Stretch
Targeted Muscle Groups: IT band, lats, and obliques
Equipment: Chair (you can also lean onto a wall if you don’t have a chair to use)
- Standing sideways about one step behind the chair, grab the back of the chair to help support and balance you.
- Cross the leg closest to the chair behind your other leg.
- Slowly bend your torso towards the chair while reaching the arm furthest from the chair up overhead (forming a sort of “c” shape with your arms). Only stretch as far as feels comfortable for you.
- Hold for 30-45 seconds. Repeat as needed.
- Do the same on the opposite side.
3. Incline Down Dogs
Targeted Muscle Groups: hamstrings, glutes, hips, and lower back
- Place a chair directly in front of you and place your hands on the chair about shoulder width apart.
- Step your feet back onto your toes so that you are in an incline plank position.
- Next, use your core to push back and elevate your hips into an inverted “v” shape while pressing your heels into the floor. Make sure to always keep a very slight bend in the knees and only press back as far as feels comfortable. Don’t over do it.
- You can either choose to hold this position for 30-45 seconds or you can rock back and forth between an incline down dog and an incline plank for 10-12 reps.
4. Half Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
While the first picture is me relaxed in a half-kneeling position, the second is while performing the hip flexor stretch. Since the difference is hard to see without a comparison, I wanted to include before and after. Notice how my pelvis is pushed forward and tucked up into my ribs in the second photo. If done correctly, you will feel the stretch in the hip flexor of the leg with a knee to the ground.
Targeted Muscle Groups: hip flexors and glutes
Equipment: A chair or something to lean on while kneeling (a coffee table also works well)
- Start by finding a chair, box, coffee table, or something to lean onto to help you balance while you perform this exercise.
- Get into a half kneeling position with the knee closest to the chair on the ground and the other leg at a 90 degree angle out in front. Rest the hand closest to the chair to help support and stabilize you in this position.
- As you exhale, slowly pull your pelvis up and in towards your ribs using both your glutes and abdominals. Imagine you are pulling your belly button towards your spine.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before releasing, making sure to breath through the entire exercise. You should feel the stretch in the hip flexor of the leg closest to the chair. Repeat 5-6 times before switching sides.
5. Sitting Figure Four
Targeted Muscle Groups: glutes, hips, piriformis, and lower back
Equipment: A sturdy chair, bench, or couch to sit on
- Sit down on a sturdy chair or bench with your feet planted on the floor roughly shoulder width apart.
- Place your left ankle onto your right knee. Open your left knee out and towards the ground to bring the lower half of your leg parallel with the floor.
- Place one hand on your ankle and the other on your knee to reinforce the stretch.
- If you want more of a stretch you can also lean forward over top of your shin. Be sure to also keep your shoulders pressed back and your torso straight as you lean forward.
- Hold this stretch for 30-45 seconds before switching sides.
6. Wide Childs Pose
Targeted Muscle Groups: Hips and thighs
- Start kneeling on all fours.
- Widen your knees to about the width of the mat while keeping your feet together. This will provide some extra stretch for your hips and also make room for your growing belly.
- Slowly sit your hips back to your heels while extending your arms out in front of you.
- Rest your head on the mat and take 5-10 slow deep breaths before coming out of this pose. Repeat if needed.
7. Frog Rocks
Targeted Muscle Groups: hips and groin
- Starting on all fours, widen your knees until you feel a comfortable stretch in your groin area. I usually like mine just beyond the width of my mat. You can gain even more of a stretch by pointing your toes outward, but only do so if this is comfortable for you.
- Push your hands into the ground and drive your hips back as you would to perform a child’s pose.
- Slowly rock back as far back as is comfortable before slowly rocking back to the starting position.
8. Cat Cows
Targeted Muscle Groups: hips and back
- Start on all fours with a neutral spine. You can choose to do this with your toes tucked under or the tops of your feet laid flat on the mat. Choose whatever feels most comfortable for you.
- To first perform the cow pose, inhale as you push your chest upwards and allow your belly to sink. Your gaze should end up straight out in front, not up or down.
- As you exhale move into the cat position. Round your back, tuck your pelvis forward, and tuck your head in so that you are looking at your belly button.
- Continue alternating between cat and cow poses as you focus on your breathing.
- Perform 5-10 reps of each.
9. 90/90 Hip Stretch
*This is one of my absolute favorite pregnancy stretches for lower back pain!!
Targeted Muscle Groups: glutes, piriformis, hip flexors, hip abductors and adductors
- Sit on the floor and bend one leg out in front of you at a 90 degree angle, keeping your ankle flexed.
- Bring the other leg out beside you at a 90 degree angle so that your knee is in line with your hip. Your ankle and shin should be resting on the ground. This ankle should also be kept at a flexed position.
- If you are able, you can also add a little more of a stretch by leaning into it. With your hands positioned on the knee and ankle of the leg in front of you, slowly lean forward over top the center of your shin. Make sure to keep your chest up and your shoulders back as you lean forward.
- Hold here for 30-45 seconds before switching sides.
10. Side Lying Quad Stretch
Targeted Muscle Groups: quadriceps
- Carefully get onto your side. Prop your head up with the arm closest to the ground and slightly bend the bottom leg to help support your balance.
- Bend your top leg at the knee and grab the foot of that top leg with the arm on top.
- Hold here while keeping both your knees aligned together and aligned with your hips.
- Hold for 30-45 seconds and then release to switch sides.
11. The World's Greatest Stretch
Targeted Muscle Groups: hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes
Equipment: Yoga block (optional)
- Step forward with your right leg and lower yourself into a lunge. To modify this stretch and provide greater stability, lower your left knee to the ground rather than hovering it.
- Place your left hand to the ground or on top of a yoga block if the ground is too great a stretch.
- Rotate your right elbow to touch your right ankle. Hold here for 3 seconds.
- From here, slowly rotate your right arm to reach up for the sky. Lift your gaze to look up beyond your right hand. Hold here for 3 seconds.
- Continue alternating between elbow to ankle and reaching for the sky. Aim to hold each position 5-10 times before switching to the other side and doing the same.
Targeted Muscle Groups: hips, groin, inner thighs, and lower back
- Sit down on the floor with your legs out in front of you.
- Bend both legs and bring the soles of your feet together in front of you.
- Hold your feet with your hands. Pull them closer if you want a greater stretch or push them further away from your body if you feel any discomfort or pain.
- While keeping your back straight and chest up, allow your knees to fall towards the floor. You can also apply gentle pressure with your elbows if it does not cause discomfort.
- Do not bounce your legs and always stop if you feel any discomfort or pain. Hold this position for 30-45 seconds. Repeat if needed.
13. Single Leg Seated Hamstring Stretch
Targeted Muscle Groups: hamstrings
Equipment: optional resistance band
- Sit on the floor with one leg extended out in front of you. Bend the other leg so that the sole of your foot rests on the inner thigh of the extended leg.
- Reach for the toes or ankle of the extended leg with both hands, only going as far as is comfortable for you. If this is too much, you can also opt to wrap a resistance band around the sole of your foot and hold either end of the band with your hands. You should feel the stretch in the back of your thigh.
- Hold this position for 30-45 seconds before extending the other leg and doing the same.
14. Happy Baby
Targeted Muscle Groups: hamstrings, inner thighs, hips, lower back, and groin
- Start by lying flat on your back.
- Bending your legs at a 90 degree angle, bring your knees up outside either side of your chest.
- Flex both ankles and grab the inside of both feet with your hands.
- Gently rock from side to side for 30-45 seconds. Repeat as needed.
Targeted Muscle Groups: hamstrings, glutes, and lower back
- Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor at a comfortable distance from your butt.
- Press through your heels while tightening your core and glutes to lift your hips up off the floor. Your knees, hips, and neck should form a straight line.
- Hold for 3-5 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. Complete 5-10 reps or more if needed.
16. Lying Pelvic Tilts
Targeted Muscle Groups: lower back
- Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- As you exhale, pull your pelvis up and in towards your ribs. Use your core to flatten your back against the floor as you do this.
- Hold here for a few breaths before returning to your starting position.
- Perform 10-15 reps, making sure to breath throughout all portions of the exercise.
17. IT Band Roll Out
Targeted Muscle Groups: IT band
- Lie on the floor on your side with the foam roller out in front, perpendicular to your body.
- Cross your top leg over top the bottom leg and place your foot flat on the ground.
- Prop yourself up onto the planted foot and your bottom arm. Slide the foam roller underneath your still straight bottom leg in between your knee and hip.
- Use your top leg and your arm to move your body back and forth on the roller. Move the roller between the hip and knee of the bottom leg. Roll for 1-2 minutes before moving onto the other side and doing the same.
This post was all about the best pregnancy stretches for lower back pain. They have done wonders for me and I hope they work wonders for you too!