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Stretching brings blood flowing to your muscles and joints and improves flexibility, causing a reaction in your muscle cells that complements and enhances your workout. Stretching can be beneficial in other circumstances, too, like when you experience lower back pain. Performing a simple butterfly stretch can help alleviate the pain and increase your range of motion and mobility, issues which might have contributed to the back pain in the first place.
The back butterfly stretch, also known as the lying butterfly stretch, is done lying on the floor on your back. Bend your knees and open them, dropping them to the sides so that you can touch the soles of your feet together. Draw your heels as close to your body as you can and stretch your knees wide. Your hands may rest on your hip bones or you can use them to press on your inner thighs to intensify the stretch.
The back butterfly stretch focuses on your hips and inner thighs, so aside from stretching out your legs and warming up or cooling down from a workout, performing this stretch increase flexibility in your hip flexors. This benefits your range of motion but can also help reduce hip or SI joint pain, reduce risk of lower back injury and improve your posture. Your SI joints support a lot of weight -- your entire upper body, as a matter of fact. Keeping them flexible and strengthening the joint ligaments that support them stabilizes your pelvis and helps maintain balance between your upper and lower body.
With or Without a Partner
You can perform the back butterfly stretch on your own but having a partner assist you can be useful. Your partner stabilizes your feet and legs, keeping them in place for an optimal stretch. He can also put pressure on your knees to help provide more intensity to the stretch that you might not be able to get on your own.
The seated version of the butterfly stretch is just as effective as the lying down version. Start in a seated upright position on the floor, put the soles of your feet together and draw them into your body, as close as you can. Holding your feet together with your hands, bend forward at your hips over your feet keeping your back straight and don't hunch. This version still works your inner thighs and hip flexors but you'll also feel a stretch in your lower back. Some may get a greater stretch from the lying version, but the one you choose depends on which one you think benefits you the most.