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5 Morning Stretches for Back Pain

Back pain affects over 10 million people in the UK alone. Our team of osteopaths and physiotherapists at our Camden clinic see patients with back pain of a wide variety of causes, types and severities. The most effective treatment will start with identifying the cause of your back pain, so making an appointment with a licensed osteopath or physiotherapist is the best place to start.

In the meantime, there’s lots of things you can do yourself to proactively manage your pain throughout the day. For many people, back pain is its peak in the morning. Starting your day with daily morning stretches will help to prepare your body for the day’s activities and will set the tone for your day by taking care of your wellbeing first thing in the morning.

Why is my lower back pain worse in the morning?

When we’re moving, blood flow increases and synovial fluid (which lubricates our joints) is circulated around the body, meaning more oxygen is being delivered to our muscles. In sleep, you’ve been lying still or with significantly reduced movement for hours; neither of these fluids are circulating, which can result in stiffness and discomfort.

Your sleeping position also plays a part in this, as incorrect sleeping positions can pull your spine out of alignment and put excess strain on your neck or back (you can read our tips on finding the most supportive sleeping position here).

The best stretches to start your day

You can do the stretches below from bed if that will encourage you to get them done, although if possible, we recommend doing them on the floor next to your bed, as this will be a more supportive surface.

Back flexion

Lying flat on your back, use your hands to hug one knee into your chest, holding for 10 seconds. Repeat with the other leg, and then repeat both a few times. Finish by hugging both knees into your chest at the same time and holding, then lifting your head up as if you’re trying to get your forehead to touch your knees. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat a few times.

Supine twist

Lying on your back, bring your arms out into a T or V shape, with your palms flat on the floor. Bring your feet flat onto the floor about a foot away from your buttocks. Breathe in and as you breathe out, lower your knees to the right, keeping your feet on the floor. Inhale and bring your knees back to centre, then lower to the left as you exhale. You can look straight up or rotate your head in the opposite direction to your knees. Remember to keep your core engaged as you lift and lower your legs.

Seated back flexion

Sit on the edge of the bed with your knees directly above your ankles. Sit straight up, and then slowly reach down to touch the floor between your feet. Hold for ten seconds, then roll back up the same way. Repeat a few times.

Side stretch

Stand with feet hip width apart, clasping your hands above your head (you can have your palms facing up to the ceiling if your wrists will allow, or palms facing towards each other if not). Reach up to the ceiling, and then lean your body to the right, feeling a stretch along your left side. Only lean so far as you feel supported. Hold for ten seconds, then come back to centre and repeat to the left. Repeat a few times.

Back extension

Lie on your stomach, with your hands on the floor beneath your shoulders, palms facing down. Keeping your elbows tucked in close to your body, press into your hands to lift your head and chest of the floor (keeping your hips on the floor, and your gaze slightly in front of you so that your neck is long). Hold for 5 seconds, then lower back down and repeat a few times. Remember to only lift up as far as is comfortable – you shouldn’t feel any pain or pinching in your lower back.

If you need further guidance on performing these stretches safely, or if your back pain is persisting throughout the day, book an appointment with our friendly team of osteopaths and physiotherapists who can offer a treatment pain tailored to your needs.

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