Stretching your back is a simple way to improve the health of your spine and release tight back muscles.
By increasing circulation and lengthening the spine, back stretchers can also help relieve lower back pain.
Just 10 minutes a day devoted to stretching can protect your back, fight chronic pain and improve your range of motion.
You might also get better posture and may even gain some height!
The great thing about these kinds of stretching devices is that you can get the benefits of a safe, deep lower back stretch without needing to go to a physical therapist.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about back stretchers, including how they work and the benefits you can expect to gain from using one.
Not only that, but we’ll take you through the best back stretching devices and help you find the right one for you.
What Are Back Stretchers?
Low back stretchers are equipment designed to stretch your back while you maintain a comfortable position, typically lying on the floor.
Whereas stretching your spine on your own generally requires your back muscles to contract, the stretcher does the work for you so that your muscles can fully relax.
This lets you get a deeper stretch for more therapeutic benefits.
Back stretchers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Although they can range widely in appearance, they generally have the same mechanism of action to produce the same intended results.
How Do They Work?
Back stretchers are designed to sync with your spine’s natural curvature and be comfortable enough for you to relax and stretch passively.
In other words, as long as you’re positioned correctly on the stretching device, you don’t have to do anything to reap the benefits of it.
When you use a low back stretcher, you decompress your spine, taking the weight off of it.
You also increase the space between the vertebrae, allowing fresh blood to circulate your spinal disks.
Spinal disks need the oxygen and nutrients this fresh blood provides them in order to heal the spine and relieve back pain.
Stretching the spine increases a substance found in your spine called proteoglycans, which play a role in the spine’s self-healing mechanism.
You need to use a back stretcher on a regular basis to see the full results it can offer, but people with chronic back pain have experienced pain relief within 2 weeks of daily lower back stretching .
What Are the Benefits of Using a Back Stretcher?
Aside from the main benefit of reducing lower back pain, lower back stretchers improve your spine’s flexibility by loosening muscles around the spine that have become tight and stiff over time.
They also strengthen your back and boost circulation so that damaged muscles can heal.
Using a back stretcher improves your posture by simultaneously strengthening and loosening your back muscles. This helps prevent chronic back problems and acute injuries caused by misalignment, such as sciatica, slipped disk and bulging disc.
Stretching your spine with a low back stretcher could potentially even increase your height by lengthening your spine and improving your posture.
In addition to these long-term benefits of back stretchers, they also relieve short-term tension and stress, and they boost blood circulation.
A boost in blood flow can uplift your mood and improve your energy levels, and promote better health and well-being overall.
What to Look for When Choosing a Back Stretcher
If you decide a low back stretcher is what you need, here are the features you want to look for when choosing the right one.
A good back stretcher fits the curvature of your spine and lets your lower back muscles relax naturally when you lay on it.
Although you should feel a stretch, you shouldn’t feel too uncomfortable.
Look for a back stretcher that is well padded so that you can hold a stretch for longer without discomfort.
With regular stretching, your lumbar back will get more flexible. It’s important your back stretcher lets you adjust the intensity of your stretch.
This way, you can use a lower intensity when you’re first starting off or on days when you have more stiffness.
You’ll want to be able to deepen your stretch to keep getting the same benefits when you’re more flexible.
Easy to Store
If you’re using your back stretcher regularly, you’ll want to be able to move it around easily.
Look for one that’s not too heavy or bulky if you want to be able to easily put it away and take it out again when you need it.
There’s no one equipment that works the best for everyone, so if you’ve purchased a back stretcher that wasn’t comfortable for you, you’ll want to return it.
If you choose a stretcher with a money-back guarantee warranty, you can get your money back if it doesn’t work out.
The Best Back Stretchers for Pain Relief in 2022
Whether you suffer from lumbar back pain or simply want to improve the health of your spine, trying a low back stretcher is worth the investment.
Let’s take a look at some of the best low back stretchers.
This stretching device not only stretches your back at different adjustable levels of intensity, but also is designed for lumbar back support when you’re sitting in a chair.
Weighing in at just 1.4 pounds, it’s one of the most lightweight, small and portable back stretchers on the market.
However, it’s durable enough to last no matter your weight or how frequently you use it.
Its drawback is that the material may be too hard for lasting comfort.
It has small knobs that aren’t as large as the ones on the back stretcher seen below, but they can make the equipment too uncomfortable for those looking for a simple stretch they can relax in.
- Can be used while in a chair
- Small and lightweight
- Acupressure knobs can feel too hard and cause pain
This stretcher gives you three intensity-level options by letting you increase or decrease the arch.
Whereas many back stretchers are smooth, this back stretcher has 34 acupressure knobs that align along the muscles on either side of your spine to help release tension.
It’s made of ABS plastic, which means that it isn’t the most comfortable material however it is hard enough for the acupressure knobs to penetrate muscle tissue.
Weighing in at under 2 pounds, this back stretcher is lightweight to move around easily yet can accommodate a maximum user weight of 350 pounds.
Its drawback is that the acupressure knobs can be too painful for people just looking for a comfortable stretch without the added acupressure feature.
- Acupressure knobs
- 350-pound weight capacity
- Difficult to adjust
- Acupressure knobs may be too painful for newbies
With its heated yoga stretching mat, Homedics has created their own take on traditional back stretchers, with a more high-tech model.
It’s a soft, padded mat that unfolds and arches at the back, but supports you under your head, neck, shoulders and hips.
You can lay your legs out straight while you lay on the mat, or bend your knees with your feet on the floor.
Using the remote control, choose from 3 different intensity levels. Plus, there are four yoga stretch programs you can select.
Airbags inflate and deflate in different parts of the mat to stretch and gently massage your muscles, stimulating circulation and relieving tension.
Homedics has received decent reviews for this product because its adjustability and versatility makes it effective in treating back pain.
Plus, it’s relaxing and comfortable to lay on and it’s easy to fold up to store away.
The one downfall of this product is that if you are not of the right height the air compression sacs may not hit the parts of your body it’s supposed to.
- Soft and padded
- Folds up for easy storage
- 4 air compression massage programs
- More expensive because of the extra features
- A bit hit and miss unless you are of a certain size
What makes the Solidback stretcher unique is that it’s made of foam, similar to a foam roller, weighing just 1.3 pounds.
It gives you some padding but it’s firm enough to be durable and provide support without losing its shape. Its spiky design is made to release muscle tension, but many users find these spikes too hard and pointy to be comfortable.
If you’re expecting the Solidback to be softer because it’s made of foam, know that it’s no softer than plastic, silicone, wood or any other material.
Some users find the Solidback painful while using it, but find back pain relief afterwards.
Unlike the ChiSoft and Multi-Level Back Stretcher, the Solidback stretcher doesn’t adjust, so if it’s not at the right intensity level for you, that’s another cause of discomfort.
- Durable and long-lasting
- Spikes make it uncomfortable
- No adjustability
Like the Multi-Level stretcher, the Magic Back stretcher is designed for low back support in chairs as well as for stretching on the floor. It even has a strap you can use to attach to your chair.
The acupressure knobs on this stretcher are small enough that they don’t cause discomfort while they apply pressure to release muscle tension and help with lower back pain.
It’s small and thin, which makes it easy to take with you for long car rides or for use at your office chair.
However, its material is thin and users have suggested that it can collapse or break when used on the floor as a back stretcher.
On the other hand, this makes it easier to adjust between intensity levels compared to a product made with firmer material like the ChiSoft back stretcher.
- Can be used in chairs
- Easy to adjust, comfortable
- Reported to break easily
What makes the True Back stretcher unique is that it has a slightly different arch shape than most low back stretchers.
Like the Lewonde back stretcher, it has more contact area so that you can decompress more of your spine in one stretch.
It has an opening in the centre so that the spine doesn’t press against the stretcher. On either side of this opening, there are ridges that apply pressure to your back muscles to help them relax as you stretch your spine.
Beyond those ridges, on the outer edges of the stretcher, there’s padding to protect your shoulder blades and provide better comfort.
The True Back stretcher weighs 4 pounds, so it’s a little more difficult to pack into a suitcase, and it costs more than most back stretchers.
However, it’s shown to be effective for many people with back injuries and chronic back pain, so its unique shape may be worth a try.
- Covers a larger area on your back
- Less portable
- Doesn’t adjust
The PSO-Back is primarily a release tool to remove trigger points in your back to help increase spine and back mobility.
It can also help stretch your back and spine in the process.
The PSO-Back has pointy nodes which help release muscle tightness while the curve allows the back to stretch.
The PSO-Back can also be used as a back support when sitting in your chair where you can gently lean into it.
While this device is great at hitting trigger points it can be pretty intense and isn’t recommended for beginners.
It also is not adjustable and like all PSO-RITE products is on the expensive side (overpriced even).
That being said, if you feel that the tightness in your back could be caused by knots in your back, then the PSO-Back may be worth a try.
Just bear in mind it’s not going to feel relaxing when trying this out for the first time.
- Great for people who want to release knots in their back
- Not adjustable
Magic Back has come out with a new 2020 version of its back stretcher. Whereas the original was just plastic with no cushion, the 2020 release has a new cushion on it for comfort.
Plus, the company fixed the problem it had in the earlier version with durability — the new model isn’t prone to snapping.
Unfortunately, the strap used to fasten it on the back of a chair can break easily.
Nonetheless, it’s nice having a back stretcher that doubles as a lumbar support cushion.
It’s easy to adjust and customers love the new Magic Back stretcher because it makes noticeable improvements in your posture if you use it regularly for sitting.
- More durable and has a higher weight capacity than the original model
- Can be used sitting up or lying down
- Comes with a strap for fastening it to the back of your chair
The back stretcher made by Fitness Junction adjusts to 3 arch heights for different intensities.
It has an opening down the centre to protect your spine, with nodes on either side to massage your back muscles.
Not only is it affordable, but the Fitness Junction stretcher also comes with two extra massage tools: a foot massage ball that sits on the floor without rolling away, and a spiky massage ball you can use on any muscle area.
The major complaint with the back stretcher is that the nodes that dig into your back are too painful.
If you only want to stretch and decompress the spine, you may need to choose another model.
However, the added massage can increase circulation and further relieve back tension. Happy customers have reported getting used to the feeling of the nubs on their back over time. Plus, you can place a towel over the stretcher when laying on it.
Another benefit of this model is that it’s easy to adjust and doesn’t take a great deal of strength when you want to change the arch height or fold up the stretcher.
- Easily adjusts to 3 heights
- Affordable and comes with 2 extra massage tools
- Massage nodes along the stretcher can be too painful
The North American Health and Wellness back stretcher is made with padded cushioning and soft leather, with a gap in the centre to protect your spine.
As opposed to the hard plastic or wood back stretchers, this model is comfortable. It’s not adjustable, but its arch is low and beginner-friendly.
It also doubles as a lumbar support you can place behind your back at your desk chair for better posture.
Customers who love this product say it helps them breathe better when they use it, and it improves their posture with continual use.
The one catch is that you won’t get a higher intensity if it takes a deeper stretch to decompress your spine.
However, the low price and durability of the North American stretcher makes it a great buy, and a no-brainer if you find other back stretchers uncomfortable or too intense.
- Padded and comfortable
- Low-intensity level for beginners of senior citizens
- Doubles as a lumbar support for chair
- Not adjustable
- Its low intensity may not provide sufficient spinal decompression
Comparable to the Homedics electric back stretcher, Belmint’s electric back stretching mat unfolds and plugs in so you can lay down for an automated massage and stretching experience.
Designed in consultation with a certified yogi master, the Belmint mat focuses on ergonomic perfection for stretch positions that provide relief.
There’s a convenient remote control for adjusting the settings between the 4 programs, which stretch, twist, decompress and stimulate your spine at the push of a button.
While some shorter and taller users struggled to adjust to the height of this stretching mat, others simply re-adjusted the position of their head by placing their own head pillow down on the mat and aligning their back.
While some users complain the stretching isn’t intense enough, users with back pain report relief using this product.
- Provides multiple massage functions to tackle 4 “stretching points” on the back
- Easy to use with remote control
- Ergonomically designed with yogic and chiropractic practices in mind
- It’s not one-size-fits-all
- May not provide the intensity you need in a back stretcher
- Especially at the arch
The Best Back Stretcher: Recommendations
We’ve looked at back stretchers with an array of features, so the best one for you will depend on your unique needs, as well as your budget.
To get the best bang for your buck, the Magic Back Support back stretcher is a great option, especially because you can also use it to improve your posture while sitting.
The Homedics stretching mat is the best back stretcher for its advanced features that add to its therapeutic value.
Between the heat feature, air compression and auto-adjusting back arches, it provides the best, most versatile experience—while all you need to do is lay on the comfortable, padded mat and use the remote control.
Low Back Stretchers vs Inversion Tables
While low back stretchers and inversion tables offer similar results, there’s a significant difference between them.
Whereas inversion tables give you all the benefits of inversion therapy, lower back stretchers work simply by stretching the spine.
Lower back stretchers offer a more straightforward way to relieve tension from your spine and they cost less.
However, a fully upside-down position uses your body weight and gravity to decompress your spine, giving you a more powerful stretch.
Although back stretchers promote better circulation by stretching out tight muscles, inversion tables are even better at boosting blood flow–especially to your head–because you’re literally turning upside down.
Inversion tables also stimulate flow in your lymphatic system, which helps your body eliminate toxins and waste.
On the other hand, inversion tables aren’t for everyone. If you have eye problems, a heart condition or other medical issue that makes inversion dangerous, a low back stretcher is the best way to get similar benefits .
Related: The Best Inversion Tables in 2022
Stretching your back with a back stretcher is safe in general, but using it incorrectly could cause injury.
Be sure to read the instructions provided with your back stretcher before you try it out.
It also helps to consult with a physical therapist or chiropractor to make sure you’re stretching properly and getting the most out of your equipment.
If you have a spinal injury or severe chronic pain, consult with a professional before trying out any new equipment such as a back stretcher.