Best Back Stretchers

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

34 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
429 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best back stretchers

Last Updated September 2020

Do you suffer from back pain? Whether your discomfort stems from an injury, poor posture, or a degenerative problem, an orthopedic back stretcher may help.

An orthopedic back stretcher is a simple arched device you can use at home to stretch your back muscles and spine. Simply place the stretcher on the floor or another sturdy surface and lie back on it. Your spine will elongate as you recline, creating space between the vertebrae and taking pressure off your spinal discs.

Sufferers often find relief when they perform two short stretching sessions per day. Most healthy people can use a back stretcher without consulting their doctor first, but if you are pregnant or have osteoporosis, spinal stenosis, or another diagnosis that concerns you, seek medical approval before engaging in this type of exercise.

If you’re intrigued by the thought of attaining easy back relief at home, you’re not alone. These affordable devices have gained considerable traction in the home health field. Read our buying guide to learn the basics on back stretchers and see some of our favorites.

Don’t use a back stretcher if you have recently fractured your spine or had surgery. Ask your physician when it is safe to resume exercise.

Key considerations

Your health

Most back stretchers on today’s market can be used on the lower, middle, or upper back, allowing you to address your pain at its source. You choose where to place the stretcher.

The FDA does not regulate the production of back stretchers, so if you buy one without a doctor’s guidance, you do so at your own risk. That said, people with the following health problems may find relief with a back stretcher.

  • Arthritis
  • Bulging discs
  • Degenerated discs
  • Pinched nerves
  • Sciatica
  • Scoliosis
     

Some sellers proclaim that their product is “FDA approved.” Even so, when you read the fine print, you may notice that the FDA does not actually validate the health benefit claims made by the company.

Stretcher design

Most orthopedic back stretchers adhere to one of two designs. The most common design involves two pieces: a flat, rigid base and a hard, flexible band that stretches over the base to form a rainbow-like arch. The flexible band may or may not be padded. In some cases, the pad is removable. (A large portion of users appreciate the padded surface, but a few prefer something harder.)

Perhaps the most appealing feature of the two-piece design is adjustability. Because the overarching piece is flexible, it can be bent and tucked into one of several slots in the base. This affects your degree of stretch. For example, one set of slots will make the arch steeper and your stretch deeper; another set of slots will flatten the arch for a gentler stretch.

The second most common design consists of just one piece. Often made of foam, this piece resembles a half cylinder. The arch angle cannot be adjusted on this type of back stretcher, but because it’s made of foam, it may have nodules for added stimulation.

Weight limit

The piece that supports your back may be made of wood or plastic. It’s sturdy but not infallible, so check the weight limit before purchasing. A smaller person may get by with a 200-pound weight limit, but a larger individual would be wise to purchase something with a weight limit of 300 pounds or more.

EXPERT TIP

As with any stretching regimen, give your body time to adjust to the exercise. It may be several months before you really feel the benefits of your new spine stretches.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Arch angle

You might prefer a steep arch of around 50°, a shallow arch of around 15°, or something in between. Fortunately, there are customizable back stretchers that allow you to select your preferred arch angle. In our research, we found back stretchers with anywhere from three to five angle options. Not all products have this feature, however, so check the product specs before ordering.

Acupressure and massage

Some back stretchers are covered with soft, rubbery pins or spikes that stimulate the body as you stretch. Sellers tout these products as tools for acupressure as well as stretch therapy. Mind you, the holistic practice of acupressure focuses on specific points on the body that are thought to release healing energy. A back stretcher with nodules on it may or may not hit these specific spots. Nevertheless, some users think it feels great, while others find it a bit uncomfortable.

While a moderate number of back stretchers have acupressure nodules, only a few have a massage function. If you’re interested in receiving a vibration-like massage while you stretch, give some thought to an orthopedic back stretcher with a massage function. These products require batteries, and some allow you to toggle between two or more intensities.

Ease of assembly

One-piece back stretchers obviously don’t need to be assembled, but if you opt for a multipiece stretcher, you’ll probably have to put it together when it arrives. There may be just two large parts or many small parts to assemble, depending on the product’s design.

Even if the assembly and use of your back stretcher seem straightforward, it never hurts to make sure you’re doing it right. After all, if you were to put your device together wrong or use it incorrectly, you could hurt yourself. Check online to see if there are any instructional videos for your particular product. Lots of companies provide them. If not, you may still be able to get the gist by watching a video about a similar product.

A back stretcher cannot cure osteoporosis, herniated discs, or other problems that affect the back. Use your stretcher in conjunction with medical care and other therapies as prescribed by your doctor.

Back stretcher prices

Most orthopedic back stretchers fall in the $20 to $40 range, with the average product costing about $30. That said, you could buy a small, unpadded back stretcher made of plastic for closer to $12 if you wanted to. However, for a few dollars more, we think it’s worth it to invest in a sturdy back stretcher with the features (padding, acupressure nodules, adjustability) consumers tend to appreciate.

There are a few back stretchers on the market that sell for more than $40. The extra expense probably isn’t necessary if you just want the basic stretch function. Some heated body massagers also provide a degree of stretch to your back, but these products tend to cost $100 or more.

DID YOU KNOW?

A back stretcher operates on the principle that when the spine is stretched and elongated, space between compressed vertebrae is restored, creating a feeling of relief in the back.

Tips

  • Try an inversion table. A back stretcher isn’t the only at-home device you can use to relieve back pain. For a more intense therapy session, consider an inversion table. This device actually turns you upside down (you choose the angle) to provide relief from spinal compression.
  • Try a yoga wheel. Another at-home tool to consider for back pain relief is the yoga wheel. Practitioners use these wheels to achieve certain poses and to stretch the spine. Anyone can use a yoga wheel, but you should know what you’re doing before you climb atop one. Consult your yoga instructor first or, at the very least, watch an instructional video or two before attempting poses with a yoga wheel.
  • Try the back stretcher in the car. Most back stretchers can be placed on the floor or a chair for therapeutic use. Some people appreciate the support a back stretcher provides while sitting in the driver’s seat of their vehicle.

Other products we considered

The American Lifetime Lower Back Stretcher reminds us of a foam roller thanks to its EVA foam nodules, but it’s marketed as a back stretcher for multiple areas of the spine, including the neck. As a one-piece stretcher, the arch angle is not adjustable, and some people find the foam spikes too hard for comfort. We still think it deserves a mention because of its affordable price and the fact that many owners rave about its effectiveness.

The BackBridge falls high above our pricing norm, but it’s another unique product worth mentioning. It consists of five removable layers. To customize your stretch experience, simply peel off the layers you don’t want. While some owners sing its praises, others find the BackBridge a bit overpriced. We think you need to see it (and perhaps try it) to decide for yourself.

Protect your back by observing good posture at all times. Pay particular attention to your stance when you’re most likely to slouch: while driving, working at your desk, or watching TV.

FAQ

Q. Is a back stretcher painful to use?
A.
You may feel some pain the first few times you use your back stretcher. The key here is to exercise good judgment. You’re bound to feel pain in any stiff or sore body part that you stretch, but that pain should lessen over time. If the pain persists or worsens, see your physician.
 

Q. What is the difference between a back stretcher and a foam roller?
A.
For starters, the two items look different. An orthopedic back stretcher is an arched wood or plastic platform with a rainbow shape, whereas a foam roller is a column of sturdy foam with a cylindrical shape. Perhaps the most important difference is the intended purpose of each. An orthopedic back stretcher is designed to lengthen and stretch the spine, whereas a foam roller is designed to massage and break up tension in the back while stimulating blood flow.
 

Q. Can an elderly person use a back stretcher?
A.
If the person is in good physical condition, the answer may be yes. Keep in mind that one of the most effective ways to use a back stretcher is to lie with it on the floor. If you have trouble getting down on the floor, you could try using the back stretcher with a chair instead. Notably, anyone who has osteoporosis should not use a back stretcher unless under the guidance of a physician.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
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    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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