Alleviate Your Back Pain

Pain-Free Back With These Few Easy Stretches


Oftentimes, when you need relief for back pain, the issues are with your neck, upper back, mid-back, and hips. Although the low back is what hurts, the issues might be elsewhere. In our programs for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athletes, we help you heal your back using a holistic approach!

So, let’s stretch that middle back, an area between, you guessed it, lower back and the neck. Grab a belt or any other similar prop, a blanket and begin your journey towards releasing tight muscles in your back and alleviating back pain.

Back pain is a very common problem among Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. There is probably at least one person you know or train together with, that is complaining of it to some extent. The pain you feel might have already become a part of your everyday life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. And we’re here to help.

There are many very helpful yoga poses and sequences that target your back, but these are a few of our favorites:

1. Seated hand-to-big-toe with a Belt

Attach the prop you are using around your left foot and stretch out the leg. Grab onto your prop as close to your foot as possible, while you bend the other knee. Lean back and round your spine until it forms a C-like shape. You can rest your forehead on the bent knee. Here you might also feel a quite intense stretch in the left shoulder blade. If the stretch is too much for you, you can bend your extended leg a bit and lean back slightly. Take 10 breaths in this position before you switch sides.

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2. Forward Fold Variation (Hand-walking)

‘’Hand-walking’’ is another variation of our previous pose. Bend your knees and place the palms underneath your feet. Begin to stretch one knee at the time, while you try to round your spine at the same time. Follow up this movement: On the inhale, bend both legs, on the exhale, straighten one of the legs and round.

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Yoga for BJJ - back stretches for pain relief 12

3. Cat and Cow Pose

Cat-Cow Pose has been a topic of many blog posts already, so we wouldn’t like to go too much into depth here. Just be cautious that you don’t execute the movement with the sole emphasis on your lower back here. Instead, put more focus on your chest and shoulder blades. You can read more about this pose in our Spinal Maintenance for Grapplers blog post.

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Yoga for BJJ - back stretches for pain relief 14

4. Shoulder Twist

From a neutral position, stretch the left arm under your right one as far as you can, so you end up laying on top of your left shoulder. At the same time, finger-walk your right hand away from you as much as possible and lift your elbow towards the ceiling. You’ll end up in this weird-twisted-uncomfortable-looking position that your spine will thank you for afterwards. If you struggle with balance, spreading your knees a little should help. You know the drill – take 5 deep breaths and move one to the second side.

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Yoga for BJJ - back stretches for pain relief 8

5. They see me rollin’… 

Sit down on the ground in a leg-hugging pose. Cross your wrist and your ankles (see the photo below) and begin to roll back and forth. When you go down, go slowly, tuck your chin and pull your head closer to the knees. Again, if you check out the video, you’ll have a much better representation of this pose (it starts off at 6:45). All the poses that are mentioned in this post alleviating back pain, but this one especially.

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Yoga for BJJ - back stretches for pain relief

6. Elevated Plow Pose

If you have neck problems, we strongly advise you to grab and roll-up a blanket and put it under your shoulders before we start this next pose. Inversion will be your primary goal for this one. Go as far as your body allows you to. You can stay in position #1 (as displayed on the photo below) or ideally proceed further to reach the full Plow pose. Using a blanket will make it a bit easier for you and release the pressure off the neck at the same time.

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Yoga for BJJ - back stretches for pain relief 5

Another variation would be to use the wall, especially if you have pain in your lower back. The wall will support it, while you can alternate your legs and trying to reach the floor behind you. Ultimately you’ll be able to put both feet on the ground. 

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We are aware that Sebastian’s form looks like something that came straight from a horror movie, but we promise you it’s not as bad as it looks and your back will feel great upon completion.

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Yoga for BJJ - back stretches for pain relief 2

7. Fish Pose

With this next pose, you’ll be working your back in the opposite direction as you did in the previous exercise. Keep the blanket on your mat, or even better, grab a pillow/yoga bolster and lay down on top of it. Make sure your head rests comfortably on the floor. You can even grab another blanket to put it underneath the head. Fish Pose after a day of hunching in front of a computer is the perfect antidote to the tension held in the chest, shoulders, and upper back. There are many variations, choose one that feels the best for you. Stay in this pose as long as you want and learn the different effects perseverance in this pose has on your body.

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The reason we’re stiff in our upper back is, that it’s a tricky area to get to. So we need different approaches and tools that can help with the stiffness to go away. We hope we managed to provide you with a few of them today. We think it’s also important to point out to do these stretches after your body is already warmed-up. Don’t do them when you’re cold as you might injure yourself.

And remember, that in order to get the maximum results, it’s not enough to just stretch one part of your body like you did today, but work on your body as a whole.

For more tips on how to execute this poses properly, check out the video below:

Check out and try out our Back Pain Week for an in-depth breakdown of how to feel better! You can try the program for Free with our 2 Week Trial.

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Back Pain Week

Back in Control Program is a yoga program for mild/moderate back pain.

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