11 Side-Body Yoga Stretches That Relieve Back Pain

Aching for back pain relief? These easy side-body stretches will help you feel brand new again.

Sitting all day is the new normal, yet it comes with risks you may not even be aware of.

It’s easy to slouch while sitting, or unintentionally lean to one side. That’s because when you’re sitting, your sides naturally relax. With your sides unengaged for too many hours of the day, it can lead to an imbalance of your side-body that can affect your body symmetry. When left untreated, asymmetry can cause strength imbalances that exacerbate back pain.

hink of your sides as the pillars that hold your body straight. When pillars become weak, it can cause the entire structure to collapse. Even if you were to sit with perfect upright posture all day, you still risk atrophy of the side-body muscles that work only when your body is active.

Standing and walking as much as possible can help keep your side-body stronger and more flexible. If going for a daily walk isn’t an option for you, this quick routine can help ensure that your back and sides are healthy.

This yoga practice is designed to lengthen, strengthen, lift, and stretch the sides of your body to give you quick relief and prevention from back pain.

I recommend using yoga blocks to maximize the stretch in some of these exercises, but all of them can be done with no equipment at all.

Take a few minutes away from your desk and chair, and stand up to try these 11 stretches with me. You can do this routine daily, or at least once per week as a break from sitting to maintain a strong healthy body.

Standing Side Body Stretch | 3 reps per side

This stretch is simple, yet incredibly effective. You should feel a good stretch along the entire side of your body.

  1. Stand with your feet together. Lift your arms overhead with your palms touching, fingers pointed to the sky.
  2. Inhale as you lean to the right. Keep your feet grounded and core strong.
  3. Exhale to come back to center, then inhale to lean to the left.
  4. Continue alternating until you complete the stretch 3 times on each side.

Side Angle | 3 reps per side

Create length through your sides with this standing pose.

  1. Stand with your feet wide.
  2. Turn your right foot towards the right and bend your knee at a 90-degree angle, keeping the left leg straight. Prop your right elbow on your right knee.
  3. Lift your left arm up overhead and reach to lengthen your side.
  4. Hold the stretch for 3 breaths, then switch sides.
  5. Continue to alternate for a total of 3 reps per side.

Rag Doll | 5 breaths

Loosen up your spine and take advantage of gravity with this easy inversion. Gently pull on your elbows here to lengthen your sides.

  1. Stand with your feet wider than hip width.
  2. Slowly fold forward, keeping a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Hold your opposite elbows and allow your head to hang heavy.
  4. Stay here for 5 full breaths, then slowly roll back up to standing.

Forward Fold Side Stretch with Block | 3 reps per side

Using a block is key for lengthening your sides in this stretch. The block provides a grip that allows you to press into the floor to enhance the tension of the stretch. If you don’t have a block, you can slightly bend your knees and dig your fingers into the ground for a similar stretch.

  1. Stand with your feet wider than hip-width apart and hold a yoga block in your hands.
  2. Hinge at the hips into a forward fold. Reach the block forward and to the right, and set it vertically on the ground as far to the right as you can reach it.
  3. Keep your hips square and centered as you focus on lengthening your left side. Take 3 full breaths here, then move your block to left and hold for another 3 breaths.
  4. Continue alternating until you’ve repeated the stretch 3 times per side.

Seated Side Bend | 3 reps per side

Sit on yoga blocks here to make this seated bend more comfortable.

  1. Stack 2 blocks on top of each other on the low setting, and find a comfortable seated position on top.
  2. Reach one arm to the ground behind you and the other over your head to the side.
  3. Take 3 full breaths as you stretch, then switch sides.
  4. Continue alternating for a total of 3 reps per side.

Child’s Pose with Block | 3 reps per side

If you’re a fan of child’s pose, you’ll love this version even more. The stretch you get in your sides is incredible when paired with this comforting move.

  1. Start in a kneeling position with 1 yoga block in your hands.
  2. Sit back onto your heels to lower into child’s pose.
  3. Place the block over to your right to feel a stretch across your left side. Stay here for 1 full breath.
  4. Lift the block and place over to the left to feel a stretch on your right side. Stay for another full breath.
  5. Continue alternating for a total of 3 reps per side.

Down Dog Twist | 3 reps per side

Stretch, twist, and lengthen in this stretch that brings down dog to the next level.

  1. Start in a downdog position.
  2. Reach your right arm to your left ankle.
  3. Grip onto the ankle and twist your torso. If you struggle to reach, try walking your hands and feet closer together, bending your knees as much as you need.
  4. Hold the twist for 1 full breath, then switch to the other side.
  5. Continue alternating for a total of 3 reps per side.

Modified Side Plank Reach | 3 reps per side

This side-body lengthener stretches the entire side of your body from toes to fingertips.

  1. Start in a kneeling position.
  2. Get into a modified side plank on your right side by straightening your left leg and placing your right hand on the ground. Reach your left arm overhead with your fingers pointing straight ahead.
  3. Lengthen your side body and hold for 3 breaths, then switch sides.
  4. Continue alternating for a total of 3 reps per side.

Lying Hip Twist with Cactus Arms | 3 reps per side

This gentle side twist helps relieve lower back pain. Grab a yoga block to make this stretch more comfortable.

  1. Lie on your back and hug your right knee to your chest.
  2. Roll your hips to the left to lower your right knee towards the ground. You can rest your knee on a block if you like.
  3. Form a cactus shape with your arms by bending the elbows to a 90-degree angle with palms facing the sky.
  4. Hold this stretch for 3 breaths, then switch to the other side.
  5. Continue alternating for a total of 3 reps per side.

Mermaid Stretch | 5 breaths per side

This gentle low-intensity side opener is an excellent way to stretch the sides of your waist all the way up through your arms.

  1. Sit on the ground with your legs crossed.
  2. Turn your right leg back so the heel is behind your hips.
  3. Lift your left arm up and overhead, towards the right, to form a long line from your hip to your fingertips.
  4. Hold the stretch for 5 full breaths.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Kneeling Side Stretch | 3 reps per side

Target the hip flexors with this incredible side stretch.

  1. Start in a low lunge with your right knee bent at 90 degrees and your left knee resting on the ground.
  2. Reach your right arm up overhead. Grasp your right wrist with your left hand and lean towards the left, gently pulling to feel a stretch all the way through your right hip. Press your hips forward and towards the right to intensify the stretch.
  3. Hold for at least 3 breaths. Switch sides.
  4. Continue alternating for a total of 3 reps per side.

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