Already have Low Back Pain when waking up?

Therapists at Carolina Physical Therapy can help you understand and treat your low back pain spinal stenosis.

Written by Alanna Wilson, PTA

Stiff in your back in the morning? Having difficulty getting out of bed?

Well, I am here to tell you that a little stretching in the morning while in bed will help alleviate your low back pain tightness/stiffness. When you first wake in the morning, we tend to roll out of bed, often experiencing low back pain or stiffness during the process, and may experience stiffness or tightness in our low back throughout the remainder of the day. While in bed, there are a few stretches that we can begin with to decrease the tightness in our low back and hips before starting the day. The first thing we need to decide is whether or not your back responds better to flexion or extension-biased exercises.

To check if extension-biased exercises are best for you:

  • lie on your belly (this is called the Prone position)
  • press up from our elbow (Prone press up, IE Cobra for our yoga lovers)
  • hold for about 5-10 seconds
    • You should feel a stretch along the lower part of the back. If you feel pressure or discomfort, then we should try flexion exercises as extension-biased exercises may not be the best fit for you

If the above exercise worked for you, see the extension exercises listed below to perform in bed upon awakening and at night before going to sleep. If the above exercises brought on discomfort in your lower back don’t worry, this next part is for you!

To check if flexion styles exercises are best for you:

  • lie on your back (this is called the Supine position)
  • pull one to your chest, placing your hands behind the thigh and hold the knee to your body for roughly 10 seconds. You may use a towel or the bed sheet for assistance with pulling the knee to our chest if needed for comfort.
    • Should you feel a stretch, continue exercise for 5 reps and refer to the listed flexion exercises below!

Exercises below are to be performed 3-5x and held for 20-30 seconds, twice daily!

Read below on what to do once we have adequately stretched our low backs and are ready for log rolling our way to sitting on the edge of bed and ready to start our day.

Extension Exercises

  1. Prone press-ups – push up on extended arms, hold for 20 seconds, and relax back down
  2. Prone on elbows – press up on elbows, hold for 20 seconds, and relax back down
  3. superman – with arms stretched out front of you, alternate lifting arms (if you are feeling advanced, lifting opposite arm and leg at the same time, then switch)

Flexion Exercises

  1. Single knee to chest – bring one knee to your chest and hold for 20 – 30 seconds, alternate legs)
  2. Piriformis – cross the Left leg over the R bent knee (make a 4 with your legs), pull the back of the Left knee towards the Right shoulder, and hold for 20-30 seconds, hold, and switch legs
  3. Trunk Rotation – lay on your back, bend both knees up, and relax the legs, with knees bent to one side, hold for 20 seconds, and switch.

Don’t let low back pain keep you from doing the things you love. Should neither of the flexion nor extension exercises provide you adequate relief, schedule an evaluation with one of our therapists and let us get down to the source of the problem with you! Not all lower backs fit neatly into one of these categories; let your Physical Therapist at Carolina Physical Therapy design a program to treat your lower back pain customized to you!