Updated: September 2018
While inversion tables and various back traction devices are often good methods to help with spinal decompression, an orthopedic back stretcher is a simple and more affordable way to help your lower back get a good stretch and relieve stiffness. By helping your back muscles relax, you’re actually allowing your vertebrae to slightly move away from each other (decompress), which can relieve sciatic, disc, and arthritis pain.
While stretching exercises always seem to be recommended for back pain, sometimes doing them actually causes more pain. A back stretcher is an easy way to allow your lower back to passively stretch. It’s particularly helpful for those who don’t have that natural curve to their lower back. If your back is most stiff right after waking up, using a spine stretcher for 5 minutes first thing in the morning can make all the difference.
The best back stretcher will be easy to use, well-designed, portable, and affordable. With so many different products for back pain on the market, I usually recommend starting with some of the inexpensive types as you try to find something that ultimately works for you. The following four simple products provide excellent relief for your back without hurting your wallet.
TOP PICK:It can be difficult finding relief from back pain, but Solidback has provided an excellent, low-cost solution. It’s designed to handle a wide range of back issues including: bad posture, disc herniations, sciatica, spinal stenosis, and everyday stiff muscles.
When used regularly, this stretcher can reduce the number of times you’ll need to see a physical therapist or chiropractor. It may even help minimize the need for surgery or pain meds. The extra dense EVA foam is soft to the touch but resilient under weight to prevent loss of support over time. Similarly, the spiky arch helps stretch both upper and lower back muscles without creating direct pressure on the spine.
The Solidback stretcher isn’t one of those products that claims to perform miracles on the first try, and most success stories have required several uses. Those stories are very positive, however, and users recommend slowly building up the amount of time to allow your body to adjust.
These happy owners have a variety of pain issues, and have found this lower back stretcher not only relieves compression pain, but also helps conform to the spine’s natural curvature.
As with most products, this stretcher isn’t a miracle and won’t work for everyone. The large curve may be too much for some people, while the texturing can prove too hard or soft for some individuals.
As each case of back pain is unique, it is best to consult with your doctor if you’re unsure whether this product is appropriate for your individual needs.
RUNNERS UP:Sometimes it seems as though nothing short of magic will fix your chronic back pain. Luckily, Magic has created an answer. This device is a combination of back stretcher, lumbar support, and posture corrector all rolled into one.
Highly portable, the device may be used for a wide range of ailments from tight muscles to sciatica. Unlike the Solidback, this back stretcher has three adjustable arch settings and an ergonomic design allowing the Magic Back Stretcher to be used by people of all ages and most sizes.
Owners of this device often claim it is the best back stretcher for the money. The settings are easy to adjust when done according to instructions, and the lowest setting is compatible with most users. Those who have benefited from this device suffer a wide range of back problems, and most report at least some degree of relief. While not a substitute for physical therapy or an at-home stretching regimen which targets additional muscles, it can offer quick relief for its users.
There are numerous isolated complaints about this product, proving that what works for one may not work for another. Some have complained about problems setting the device up or that the material is too hard. Others have noted that the Magic Back Stretcher simply does not relieve their pain. There are also a few who have problems getting out of the device after use, despite reporting pain relief.
One of the top lower back stretchers on the market is Chisoft’s Lumbar Stretching Device. When used regularly, this simple piece of equipment can help reduce pain associated with lumbar tension. Three different stretching arcs and high portability make this device a good choice for helping your lower back muscles relax while at home or travelling. While it may not be for all forms of lower back pain, this product excels at stretching and improving posture.
Chisoft has really helped a lot of people relieve their back pain and was even mentioned once on an episode of the Dr. Oz show. Users have noted how easy it is to use this device, and how well it stretches the back. Not only does it help with back injuries and general compression issues, it has proven useful for older folk that have back problems and want to return to a more active life.
Unfortunately, this device will not work with all forms of back pain, and may even make certain conditions worse. It’s important to check with your physician before attempting to start a regiment on this or any other stretching device. Beyond this precaution, some users have found assembly to be more difficult than necessary.
Also, while some sites market this for use with chairs, it is actually a floor model and should be used as such. Finally, the plastic spikes are marketed as “massage points” but in essence are just uncomfortable. Luckily, throwing a towel over the device fixes that.
Sometimes the thing you want most in a spine stretcher is simplicity. The JB4866 is a single arched cushion designed to be used by people of almost any height. It has been used by individuals as small as five feet and as heavy as 300 pounds without any issue.
One end is wider, allowing for a variety of positions, and the arch is approximately four inches at its highest. Unlike the hard plastic lumbar stretchers, this one has good cushioning making it one of the most comfortable back stretchers out there.
Users frequently mention how versatile such a simple device can be. Some use it for back support when travelling, while others use it in conjunction with other devices for a more thorough relief. The central slot helps ensure there is no direct pressure on the spine, making it more effective for people with spinal injuries. Despite being used mainly for lower back pain, some users have found it helps with middle and upper back issues related to posture or standing for long periods just as effectively.
The JB4866 is a perfect example of how a product will work for some but not others. Users over six feet have complained that it’s difficult to get comfortable. Others have reported it works great for general stretching but provides no pain relief. In a few extreme cases, the device has actually worsened pain, reinforcing the fact that a doctor should be consulted before using any product if you are unsure.