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How To Do a Gentle, Reclined, Twisting Back Stretch


Updated October 06, 2009

back stretch

Gentle Twisting Back Stretch

Photo by Peter Kramer, courtesy of Kolesar Studios

This easy twist is a back stretch you can use before exercise, or after, to help increase flexibility. Done gently, this stretch can feel very good for the lower back.

The trick with this stretch is to distribute the twist along the spine, and not drive the twist into just one spot on the back as you may have seen in the past.

If you have back pain, you may want to go through the exercises for back pain before attempting a twist.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5 min

Here's How:

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms stretched out to the sides, just below shoulder height.

    Take a few deep breaths. Relax.

  2. Bend your right knee, deepening the crease at the hip socket, as you would in knee folds, until your your thigh is upright and your shin is parallel to the floor.

    Don't let this move take your right hip off the mat. Keep your tailbone anchored to the floor at this point.
  3. Take your right knee across your body toward the floor on the other side. Allow it to lead your hips into a gentle back stretch.

    As you turn, don't take your whole upper body with you. Try to leave the right shoulder behind and send your gaze past your right hand.

  4. Pause.

    This is where you want to experiment with the stretch that is right for you. Play on this edge for a little while; breathing, and finding the place where you can distribute the stretch along your back, and get a good opening of the chest and shoulder as well.
  5. When you are ready to release the stretch, let your sacrum (the bony part at the base of your spine that forms the back of the pelvic bowl) lead the way, bringing your hips back to the floor.

    At the same time, your gaze will come to the center and your shoulder weight will be even on the floor.

  6. Stretch your right leg out along the floor.

  7. Repeat the exercise on the left side.


  1. If your shoulders are significantly wider than your hips, slide your hips a few inches toward the side your going to turn your hips toward, before you start.
  2. Placing your hand on your knee, as our model has done, might help increase the stretch.

What You Need

  • a padded surface, like a Pilates mat on the floor
Related Video
How to Stretch Your Lower Body

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