After most of my workouts and routinely throughout the week, I love to include these stretches to help relieve any stiffness in my back/body. They are my go-to ones and I'd recommend them to anyone who's looking for safe and practical stretches that help to alleviate back pain or common stiffness due to everyday life.
1. Childs Pose Back Stretch
Position yourself so that your knees are opened wide and your heels are on your bum. Feet/toes should be touching together. Slowly lower into the stretch with your arms walking out long and your forehead resting on a mat.
My favourite part about this stretch is when you focus on breathing deep, you can challenge your fingers to walk out a bit further with each breath to increase the stretch. If you feel one side tighter than the other, try to straighten that elbow a little bit more to increase the stretch or walk that hand out to the opposite side until you feel an even deeper stretch.
2. Lying Glute Hip Stretch AKA Pretzel Stretch
Laying on the floor with your back and hips on the floor, position your ankle over the opposite legs thigh like the photo. Interlace your fingers and pull the non stretching legs in towards your chest while using your elbow to push on your thigh open of the side you want to stretch.
3. Supine Twist
Laying on the floor, twist your body with your feet/knee demonstrated like the photo. Look in the opposite direction and feel a stretch in your chest, side and hips.
4. Cat Pose Back Stretch
In a four point stance, with your hands underneath your your shoulders and knees underneath your hips, press your hands firmly into the floor as you curl/round your back. You'll mimic a scared cat and you will feel an amazing stretch around your upper back muscles.
5. Downward Dog Stretch
This is an amazing stretch for your back. The best tip I can give for this one is to NOT rush the concept of getting your heels to touch the floor right away. Over time as the whole body loosens up, your calves will reach the floor more naturally.
Instead focus on lengthening your back and pushing your hands deep into the floor to stretch your back and keep a bend in your knee to pike your hips up.
6. Cobra Pose
One of the most important techniques to focus on when performing this stretch is to ensure your hands are underneath your shoulder as you rise up and that you keep your elbows squeezed/hugging to your ribs as much as possible, while keeping your shoulders away from your ears. It's a lot harder than it looks, so do take note that if you don't feel mid back tension (lower mid traps) and you only feel upper trap/shoulder pain or lower back tension, try focusing on dropping your shoulders down a bit more (think relaxed) and that may help. If you still struggle to feel it 'where you should', let me know in the comments.
Try them all or add in your preferred ones. Hold for 30-60 seconds for best results. Focus on deep and relaxing breathing while performing them as a way to get deeper into the stretch.
If you tend to feel stiff, suffer with back/hip/knee pain, in addition to following these stretches, I also recommend these specific glute exercises to try too. The reason why glute exercises help is because the back and hips can become stiff when they get weak or are inactive.
Hope these help alleviate any stiffness in your body and you can enjoy moving freely pain free!
Here's to feeling fit, firm & bootyful!