Get Your Back Workout Started Right: Essential Stretches to Do Before You Begin

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, warming up your muscles and preparing your body for exercise is crucial to prevent injury and get the most out of your workout. By incorporating these stretches into your pre-workout routine, you’ll prepare your back muscles for movement and improve your overall flexibility.

In the following sections, we’ll discuss some of the best stretches for your back, including the toe touch overhead reach, child’s pose, cat-cow, knee-to-chest stretch, seated spinal twist, cobra stretch, and superman stretch. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about stretching before a back workout. So let’s get started!

Toe Touch Overhead Reach

The toe touch overhead reach is a great stretch to do before a back workout, especially if you’re planning to work on your lower back. This stretch can help improve flexibility and range of motion in the lower back, as well as warm up the muscles before you start your workout.

To do the toe touch overhead reach:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
  2. Take a deep breath in and raise your arms overhead.
  3. Exhale as you hinge forward at the hips and reach your hands towards your toes.
  4. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds, then slowly roll back up to a standing position.

If you’re just starting out, you may not be able to touch your toes right away. That’s okay! Just reach as far as you can comfortably and hold the stretch there. Over time, you’ll be able to reach further.

Remember to breathe deeply throughout the stretch and avoid bouncing or jerking movements. This can increase the risk of injury. Take it slow and listen to your body.

stretches before back workout

Child’s Pose

If you are looking for a relaxing stretch that can alleviate back pain, the child’s pose is a great option to consider. It is a popular yoga pose that is often used as a resting position during yoga sessions, but it can also be used as a standalone stretch to help alleviate tension and pain in the back.

To do this stretch, start by kneeling on the floor with your knees hip-width apart. Slowly lower your torso forward until your chest is resting on your thighs and your forehead is on the floor. Stretch your arms out in front of you, palms down, and relax your shoulders. Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing deeply and allowing your back muscles to stretch and release.

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The child’s pose is particularly effective for stretching the lower back muscles, but it can also help to stretch the hips, thighs, and ankles. Additionally, this pose can be helpful for improving posture and promoting relaxation.

If you have knee or ankle issues, you can modify this pose by placing a cushion or blanket under your knees or ankles for added support. You can also use a bolster or cushion under your torso or forehead for added comfort.

Tips for Doing the Child’s Pose

  • Begin by doing this stretch for a few seconds at a time and gradually increasing the duration as your flexibility improves.
  • Try to keep your buttocks in contact with your heels during the stretch.
  • Make sure to breathe deeply and slowly throughout the stretch to promote relaxation.

“The child’s pose is a great way to stretch and release tension in the lower back. It’s a simple, relaxing stretch that can be done anytime, anywhere.”


The Cat-Cow stretch is an excellent stretch for your upper back, which can help improve your posture and relieve tension. This stretch is done on your hands and knees and involves alternating between arching your back up towards the ceiling (cat) and dipping down towards the floor (cow).

To perform the Cat-Cow stretch:

  1. Start in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
  2. Take a deep breath in and arch your back up towards the ceiling, bringing your chin to your chest.
  3. Exhale and round your spine towards the floor, dropping your head and tailbone towards the ground.
  4. Repeat this movement, syncing your breath with the movement of your spine.

If you have wrist or knee pain, you can perform this stretch on your forearms and knees.

Adding the Cat-Cow stretch to your pre-workout routine can help warm up your back muscles and prepare your body for exercise.

Knee-to-Chest Stretch

The knee-to-chest stretch is a great way to stretch the lower back and hips before starting your back workout. It can help to improve flexibility in these areas and reduce the risk of injury.

To perform the knee-to-chest stretch:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee and bring it up towards your chest.
  3. Interlace your fingers and place them behind your right thigh.
  4. Gently pull your right knee towards your chest, keeping your left leg straight on the floor.
  5. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, then release.
  6. Repeat on the other side, bringing your left knee towards your chest.
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If you find it difficult to hold your thigh with your hands, you can place a towel or yoga strap around your thigh and hold onto that instead. This can help you to maintain the stretch without straining your arms.

If you experience any pain or discomfort during the knee-to-chest stretch, stop immediately and consult with a healthcare professional.

Seated Spinal Twist

The seated spinal twist is a great stretch for the upper back, shoulders, and neck. It helps to improve mobility and reduce tension in these areas.

To do the seated spinal twist:

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the outside of your left knee.
  3. Place your right hand on the floor behind you for support.
  4. Place your left elbow on the outside of your right knee and gently twist to the right, using your elbow to deepen the stretch.
  5. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

If you have trouble sitting upright, try sitting on a block or a folded blanket.

Note: If you have a spinal condition or injury, you should consult with your healthcare provider before attempting this stretch.

Cobra Stretch

The cobra stretch is an excellent warm-up exercise for your mid-back muscles. It also strengthens your shoulders, chest, and glutes. The cobra stretch is commonly used in yoga practices to improve spinal flexibility and decrease stress. This stretch is ideal for anyone who is looking to strengthen their back and improve their range of motion.

To perform the cobra stretch, begin by lying flat on your stomach with your hands placed beneath your shoulders. Slowly press your palms into the ground and lift your chest up towards the ceiling. Keep your elbows close to your body and hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed and your gaze forward.

If you are a beginner, you can modify this stretch by keeping your elbows bent and only lifting your chest a few inches off the ground. You can also use a prop, such as a block or a rolled-up towel, to rest your forehead on to make the stretch more comfortable.

Superman Stretch

The superman stretch is a great way to stretch and strengthen your lower back muscles and core. This exercise is also known as the “opposite arm and leg lift,” and it targets the erector spinae, glutes, and hamstrings.

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  1. Lie face down on a mat with your arms and legs extended.
  2. Simultaneously lift your arms, legs, and chest off the ground.
  3. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for several reps.
  • Avoid straining your neck by keeping it in line with your spine.
  • Focus on lifting your limbs and chest as high as possible.
  • Exhale as you lift and inhale as you lower.
  • For added difficulty, hold a weight in each hand or wear ankle weights.

This stretch is especially beneficial for people who spend a lot of time sitting or standing, as it can help improve posture and alleviate lower back pain. Additionally, it can help strengthen the core, which is important for maintaining balance and stability during exercise.

What are the Best Stretches to Do Before a Back Workout? (FAQ)

Stretching before a back workout is essential to prepare your muscles and help prevent injuries. Here are some frequently asked questions about the best stretches to do before a back workout.

What are the benefits of stretching before a back workout?

Stretching before a back workout can help improve your range of motion, flexibility, and posture. It can also help prevent injuries, as stretching prepares your muscles for the upcoming workout.

What are some popular stretches to do before a back workout?

Some popular stretches to do before a back workout include the toe touch overhead reach, child’s pose, cat-cow, knee-to-chest stretch, seated spinal twist, cobra stretch, and superman stretch. These stretches target different areas of the back and can help improve flexibility and reduce pain.

How many stretches should I do before a back workout?

It’s recommended to do at least three to five stretches before a back workout, focusing on the muscles you plan to work. You can also incorporate stretching into your warm-up routine by doing dynamic stretches that involve movement.

How long should I hold each stretch?

It’s recommended to hold each stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds, gradually increasing the time as your body becomes more flexible. Avoid bouncing or overstretching, as this can lead to injury.

Can I do these stretches if I have back pain?

If you have back pain, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any stretching or exercise routine. They can recommend specific stretches or modifications that are safe for your condition.

By incorporating these stretches into your back workout routine, you can improve your flexibility, reduce pain, and prevent injuries. Remember to always listen to your body and consult with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

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