Learn how to stop waking up with back pain

Many New Zealanders suffer from back pain in the morning. There are many stretches to do in bed which can help relieve back pain – without you even having to get up. You can do them to help you relax and relieve back pain before drifting off to sleep or first thing in the morning to help you take on your day.

Dr Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute says, “The greatest incidence of slipped discs occurs within 30 to 60 minutes after we wake up.” Oexman recommends taking a few minutes to ease into the day with simple back stretches. If you wake up every morning with back pain, try some of these stretches for pain and discomfort relief.

Spinal twist

Lie on your back in the middle of your bed. Bend both knees into your chest and then cross them over to the left side of your body. You can let your knees hang slightly over the edge of the bed for a deeper stretch.
Extend your arm in a T position and look to your right. Hold the pose 15 to 30 seconds. Lift your knees using your abdominal muscles back to centre and repeat on the other side.

Knee to chest backstretch

Lie on your back with your knees extended. Gently bend your right knee into your chest. Clasp your hands in front of your shin and gently pull down to increase the stretch. Keep your left leg relaxed and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the left knee.

Hamstring stretch

Lie on your back and raise your left leg as high as you can, keeping your pelvis flat on the mattress. Hold your thigh and move your leg, slowly towards your head. Flex your foot to stretch your calf. Hold the position for 30 seconds and then switch sides.

Hip and lower back stretch

Lie on your back and bend both knees and hold on to the balls of your feet.
Use your arms to gently pull your knees toward the floor beside your chest.
Relax your head and shoulders for 30 seconds.


Lie on your stomach and extend your arms out in front of you. Keeping your legs and pelvis grounded, slowly begin to walk your hands towards your chest. As your torso lifts off the bed, keep a slight bend in your elbows. Walk with your hands until you feel a stretch in your abdominal muscles. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and lengthen your neck. If you can do so comfortably, lower your head back between your shoulder blades. You will feel a stretch in your chest and neck. Maintain the pose for 30 seconds and then lower your torso back to the bed. The Cobra is great at lengthening the muscles in your abs, chest and neck and also increases flexibility in your spine.

Piriformis stretch

The Piriformis muscle runs through the buttocks and can contribute to back and leg pain. To stretch this muscle lie on your back and cross one leg over the other. Gently pull the knee towards your chest until you feel a stretch. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, relax and repeat 3 more times.

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