7 Best Mobility Exercises for Back Pain Relief (with Videos!)


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If you’re looking for back pain relief, then my advice is to perform a mobility routine for your neck, back, shoulders and hips. Here, I’ve detailed seven mobility exercises for you that you can complete in ten minutes or less. So watch the videos and follow along. By doing so, you can get rid of back pain and stiffness. In addition, you’ll learn how mobility can help prevent future back pain episodes!

It’s crazy how many people have back pain and are having trouble finding a solution. Mobility is a type of exercise you can use to achieve back pain relief.

A publication by the National Library of Medicine showed that over 80% of the population experiences at least one episode of back pain during their lifetime.

That’s a huge portion of the population!

If your upper back, mid back, or lower back hurts, you may be tempted to see a doctor right away. I encourage you to try to work out the aches and stiffness on your own first. Give these mobility exercises a try for back pain relief.

Be mindful though…

If you have severe back pain where you can’t move and you’re grimacing your face at all times, or if something just feels very irregular to you, it’s probably a better option for you to visit the doctor.

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Benefits of Mobility Exercises

First of all, what is mobility? I like to best describe it as your ability to move. So to improve mobility means that you do the work to help loosen up your joints. It’s the process you go through to unlock your shoulders, hips, neck and back.

It’s a way to feel less stuck.

For example, if you throw out your back or your back aches because you slept wrong, mobility is the action that you take to relieve pressure off your spine, which can give you back pain relief.

Some additional benefits of mobility are that it:

  • Reduces risk of injury
  • Improves posture
  • Increases strength
  • Reduces stress
  • Reduces pain

With a focus to relieve back pain, try these seven mobility exercises. They target your back… and above and below your back… like your hips and your neck.

What happens as a result is a redistribution of the loads that are placed on your back. With mobility, some of the weight that you bear gets “offloaded” and makes your back feel better. 

Here are the seven exercises:

Book Opener

Your thorax is your ribcage and your thoracic spine is the upper part of your back. Because your ribs attach to your thoracic spine, that part of your back usually gets limited movement and can get pretty stiff sometimes.


The book opener exercise helps improve the movement of your spine in that region. The rotational movement pattern gets your ribs to glide around and lets your spinal vertebrae get a good stretch.

This type of mobility exercise can sometimes alleviate back pain. 

I try to do this one daily because it makes my back feel so much better! I get a tighter stretch in the lumber part of my back (lower back). You might feel it more in the upper, mid, or lower back.

Functional thoracic mobility can therefore help get rid of back pain and can also help prevent injures by fortifying your body.

Book Opener Mobility Exercise for Back Pain Relief_gifanimation

Book Openers Instructions:

  • Start on your side with your arms out in front of you and your palms touching each other.
  • Keep your bottom leg straight.
  • Bend your top leg to a 90-90. Make sure that knee is touching the ground.
  • Open the book with the top arm, keep the bottom arm still. 
  • Follow the book opening hand with your eyes, allow your neck to rotate.
  • Make sure your knee remains on the ground.
  • Repeat the movement for your prescribed sets and reps.

How Many Book Openers To Do:

A good goal for the book openers is to achieve 2 sets of 15 reps on each side. I try to do this every day, sometimes a few times a day.

Lower Trunk Rotation

The lower trunk rotation is another rotational movement for your spine. This is like a reverse book opener, because for this one your upper body is fixed and your lower body moves (it’s the opposite for book openers).

If your lower back is sensitive like my client Lanyon’s, whose L5 vertebrae was fused to his sacrum after a cycling injury, be cautious and move slow. Drive the knees down only as far as you can without pain. 

Lower Trunk Rotation Mobility Exercise for Back Pain Relief

LTR Instructions:

  • Start on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground.
  • Bring your feet together and your knees together.
  • Let both knees drop to one side, and then the other. Go slow.
  • Keep your feet on the ground and your back flat.
  • Keep both shoulders on the ground the whole time.
  • Let your hips lift up on one side as you rotate.
  • Repeat the movement for your prescribed sets and reps.

How Many LTRs To Do:

A good goal for the LTRs is to achieve 2 sets of 15 rotations. This is another one I try to do every day.


The Cat-Cow is a popular yoga move for stretching your back. In this exercise, you are alternating from full flexion to full extension of your entire vertebral column, from your tailbone to your head. Start slow to get the movement down, then perform the reps at a comfortable pace.

Cat Cow Mobility Exercise for Back Pain Relief_gifanimation

Cat-Cow Instructions:

  • Start on your hands and knees in the tabletop position.
  • Lift the center of your back and bring your chin to your chest.
    • This is the “cat” position. Neck and back are flexed.
  • Slowly drop the center of your back and lift your head up.
    • This is the “cow” position. Neck and back are extended.
  • Keep your elbows straight the whole time.
  • Repeat the movement for your prescribed sets and reps.

How Many Cat-Cows To Do:

For the cat-cow exercise, I recommend 2 sets of 15 reps. This is another one I try to do every day.

Figure 4 Piriformis Stretch

This stretch works your piriformis, a muscle in your butt deep to the glutes. Sometimes this muscle puts pressure on your sciatic nerve and can cause pain, tingling, and numbness in your lower back and down your leg. 

Stretching this muscle and working on hip mobility relieves pain and tightness in your glutes and lower back.

Figure 4 Piriformis Stretch for Back Pain Relief

Piriformis Stretch Instructions:

  • Start on your back with your knees bent and feet on the ground.
  • Put your right ankle on top of your distal left thigh.
  • With your hands, grab behind your left thigh and pull towards your chest.
  • Keep your head and shoulders on the ground.
  • Keep your lower back flat on the ground.
  • Repeat the stretch on the other side.

How Long to Hold the Piriformis Stretch:

For the piriformis stretch, on each side do 2 sets of 30 second holds. This is yet another one I try to do every day.

3-Way Hamstring Stretch

To get back pain relief, it’s important to improve mobility on parts of your body that surround your back. The hips are usually forgotten about whenever you’re going through an episode of back pain. Stretching all sides of your hips (anterior, posterior, medial and lateral) can relieve pressure off your back, alleviating the aches. 

The 3-way hamstring stretch is a great one to target the posterior compartment of your thighs, and improves your hip functional ability.

Stretching the hamstrings can be tricky. What tends to happen to a lot of people is instead of tilting their hips forward (anterior pelvic tilt) like they should to bend down, their hips stay locked up and they flex through their lumber spine to create the bending motion. By doing that, your hamstrings don’t actually get a good stretch and your back can get strained. 

Follow the instructions for this 3-way hamstring stretch to properly place your hamstring muscles in tension and protect your back. 

3-Way Hamstring Stretch for Back Pain Relief_Animation

Hamstring Stretch Instructions:

  • Start in standing with your right heel on a step or stool.
  • Keep your right leg straight and your toes pointed up.
  • Hinge forward at your hips. Keep your back straight.
  • Reach forward towards your right toes. Hold for 2-3 seconds.
  • Release the stretch, then reach to the left. Hold for 2-3 seconds.
  • Release the stretch, then reach to the right. Hold for 2-3 seconds.
  • Repeat the movement for your prescribed sets and reps.
  • Repeat for the left leg. 

How Long to Hold the Hamstring Stretch:

The 3-way hamstring stretch is a dynamic stretch, which means you move in and out of the movement. Each time you enter the stretch, hold for 2-3 seconds and release. Do 2 sets of 10 reps in each of the three directions.

You can also do a static hamstring stretch by just reaching forward and holding the stretch without moving. For static stretching, you can do 2 sets of 30 second holds on each side.

1/2 Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch

To get a good stretch of the anterior compartment of your thigh and the front of your hip, do the 1/2 kneel hip flexor stretch.

Lots of times, back pain is really a hip mobility issue. The main muscle group that flexes your hip is the iliopsoas. This muscle group attaches to your lumbar vertebrae so if there is an issue with it, you may experience low back pain. 

Doing the 1/2 kneel hip flexor stretch repeatedly will lengthen the iliopsoas, and can give you back pain relief by giving your hips more room to move around.

Half Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch for Back Pain Relief

Hip Flexor Stretch Instructions:

  • Start in the 1/2 kneel position with one knee on the ground.
  • Tuck your pelvis (posterior pelvic tilt).
  • With your back straight, drive your hips forward to feel the stretch.
  • You can lift your arm overhead to deepen the stretch.
  • Repeat the movement for your prescribed sets and reps.
  • Repeat for the other side.

How Long to Hold the Hip Flexor Stretch:

For the hip flexor stretch, on each side do 2 sets of 30 second holds. This one is simple and feels amazing, so I do this one every day.

World's Greatest Stretch (Advanced)

Mobility is a great way to loosen up your joints and relieve pressure off of parts of your body that experience high stress. However, even though you improve the range of motion with mobility, just doing mobility alone doesn’t increase your strength much. 

The natural progression from mobility is stability, then strength.

After understanding a joint’s ability to move in space (the joint’s mobility), you can start working on developing stability and strength in the muscles and ligaments connected to that joint.

The World’s Greatest Stretch is a mobility exercise that targets your entire body, and helps you develop stability and strength in your arms, legs, and core.

World's Greatest Stretch for Back Pain Relief

World's Greatest Stretch Instructions:

  • Start in the pushup position.
  • Step forward with your right foot.
  • Tighten your left quad and keep your left knee straight.
  • Reach up with your right hand, rotating your spine.
  • Rotate your neck (follow your moving hand with your eyes).
  • Set your right hand down.
  • Reach up with left hand, rotating your spine the other direction.
  • Return to pushup position and repeat with your left foot forward.
  • Repeat the movement for your prescribed sets and reps.

How Many Times To Do World's Greatest Stretch:

The World’s Greatest Stretch is a movement pattern that has four variations. The goal is to do 2 sets of 15 reps for each variation. 

The four variations are:

  1. Right foot forward, right rotation
  2. Right foot forward, left rotation
  3. Left foot forward, left rotation
  4. Left foot forward, right rotation

That’s 120 total reps of a bodyweight mobility exercise that improves movement in your back, neck, shoulders, and hips and helps you build stability and strength.

Imagine getting in a groove where you do that regularly throughout the week…


In conclusion, a mobility routine can take you a long way. Based off the stats, just about everyone in the world has experienced back pain and stiffness at some point. 

Since the back is prone to injury, then you should probably devote some time to do a few injury-preventing activities for your back. This is actually the best time to work on mobility, rather than waiting until you get hurt.

However, if you’ve already injured your back, and you’re comfortable trying to work it out, start off by going through each of these seven mobility exercises.

Try to complete the recommended sets and reps detailed under each exercise. 

After that, try to develop a habit of doing these seven exercises 2-3 times per week. You’ll quickly notice improvements in flexibility and the range of motion in your joints. It’s something that can relax your spine, strengthen your muscles, and give you lasting back pain relief.

Perform These Video Guided Mobility Exercises for Back Pain Relief

If back pain relief is what you’re seeking, and you enjoy video instructions, then watch the seven mobility exercises in this article and follow along in your room or wherever you are!

Use the table of contents below to navigate to the exercise you want to see:

Table of Contents

If you want to work together on your health and fitness, then I encourage you to book a free consultation with me where I will help you get one step closer to your goals! (Click here to describe your issue!)

What did you think of the article? What questions do you have about back pain and mobility? Please let me know in the comments below!  I am here for you! 


Freburger, Janet K. “The Rising Prevalence of Chronic Low Back Pain” JAMA Internal Medicine, vol. 169, no. 3, Feb 2009, pp. 251–258.

Garber, Carol Ewing. “Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, vol. 43, no. 7, July 2011, pp. 1334–1359.

Legal Note: This blog article does not constitute as medical advice. Although the article was written by a certified personal trainer there are many variables that come with patient healthcare. We recommend you consult a doctor if you want medical advice for your particular situation.  No patient-doctor or confidential relationship exists simply by watching, reading, and applying the information presented in this article.

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