Which back stretcher is best?

At some point in our lives, most of us suffer from some type of back pain. Whether it’s the result of an injury, a degenerative condition, or just poor posture, it can be seriously debilitating, even if only in the short term.

Some cases require medication or surgery to treat, but for less severe pain, a back stretcher can often provide relief. A stretcher helps elongate the spine and take the pressure off the spinal discs. Using it just twice a day for as little as five minutes per session is usually all it takes to see results, though it can take some time before you’re entirely pain-free, depending on your condition.

If you’re looking for a stretcher you can use sitting up or lying down, the SpineDeck 4.0 is an excellent choice.

What to know before you buy a back stretcher

Back issues

Before you buy a back stretcher, consider your back issues. A stretcher can usually help stretch the lower, middle and upper back, depending on where you place it, but it can’t necessarily treat all types of back pain. Back stretchers aren’t approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so  consult your doctor to make sure a stretcher is an appropriate treatment for your issue.

In general, a back stretcher can be effective for treating back pain associated with:

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

Design

A back stretcher typically offers one of two designs.

  • Base and arch: These have a flat, fixed base with a flexible band that forms an arch. Some arches are padded while others are not. You can find some models with a removable pad. This type of stretcher is adjustable because the arch is flexible, so it can be moved along slots to change the amount of stretching it does.
  • Single piece: These stretchers have a single piece, made of foam and shaped like a half-cylinder. You can’t adjust the stretcher, but it’s often textured for added stimulation.

Weight limit

Back stretchers are usually made of wood or plastic, so they’re sturdy and durable. No matter how sturdy they are, they have a weight limit so you know exactly how much stress they can take. If you’re fairly light, a 200-pound weight limit is usually fine. For larger people, opt for a 300-pound weight limit to be safe.

What to look for in a quality back stretcher

Arch angle

Back stretchers have a variety of arch angles that determine how deep a stretch they provide. A steep arch of 50 degrees provides a deep stretch, while a stretcher with an arch of 15 degrees lightly stretches your back. You can also find stretchers with more moderate arches if you prefer a medium stretch. 

Some back stretchers are adjustable, so you can choose from several options as your needs change.

Acupressure and massage

Some back stretchers don’t just stretch the back, they have a textured surface with soft, rubbery spikes that stimulate your back while it’s stretched. Some claim to offer acupressure therapy by focusing on areas of the back believed to release pain-relieving energy.

A few back stretchers also have a massage function that vibrates to massage your back while you stretch it. These orthopedic stretchers are usually the most expensive and require batteries for operation.

Ease of assembly

A one-piece back stretcher doesn’t require any assembly, so you can start stretching your back as soon as you take the stretcher out of the box. A two-piece stretcher requires some assembly, though in most cases it only takes a few minutes to put together.

How much you can expect to spend on a back stretcher

Expect to spend $20-$100. Most orthopedic stretchers go for $30-$40 and feature padding, acupressure spikes and an adjustable angle. If you want one with a massage function, you’ll pay $50 or more.

Back stretcher FAQ

Q. Is it normal to experience pain when you use a back stretcher?

A. When you first start to use a back stretcher, you may feel some pain. The more you use it, the less likely you are to feel it. If you continue to feel pain or your pain increases, stop using the stretcher and consult your doctor.

Q. How long does it take to see benefits from a back stretcher?

A. It depends on the reasons for your back pain. In some cases, you may feel better after a few stretching sessions. In others, it may take up to two months to feel the benefits. The key is to be patient and use the stretcher consistently.

What is the best back stretcher to buy?

Top back stretcher

Best SpineDeck 4

SpineDeck 4.0

What you need to know: This stretcher has 88 plastic pins that bring an acupressure effect by deeply pressing the specific acupoints.

What you’ll love: It has four slots for height adjustment, and the higher the back stretcher lifts, the stronger stretch you will get.

What you should consider: Some users found that the plastic pins can be a bit too hard.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top back stretcher for the money

Best American Lifetime Back Cracker Back Stretcher

American Lifetime Back Cracker Back Stretcher

What you need to know: This budget-friendly stretcher isn’t adjustable but can provide immediate relief and has no painful spikes.

What you’ll love: It’s an excellent back stretcher for beginners, covered in foam that helps loosen tense lumbar muscles and will not tear or soften.

What you should consider: It doesn’t provide a particularly deep stretch since it isn’t adjustable.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Best Jimugor Back Stretcher

Jimugor Back Stretcher

What you need to know: It features acupressure nodes  to provide comfortable, effective back treatment.

What you’ll love: It has a multi-level arch so that anyone can benefit from it, and works especially well in treating herniated discs, sciatica and knotted muscles.

What you should consider: Some users found it difficult to assemble.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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