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 device 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.

Our buying guide provides the information to find the best back stretcher for your therapy sessions. At the end, we’ve included several specific product recommendations, like our top pick from CHISOFT, which allows for three stretch arch angles and can support up to 200 pounds.

What to know before you buy a back stretcher

Back issues

Before you buy a back stretcher, it’s important to consider your specific 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 FDA-approved, so you should always consult your doctor to make sure a stretcher is an appropriate treatment for your particular 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 features one of two design types. Some 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.

Other back stretchers only feature a single piece that’s 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 either 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 men and 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 can feature a variety of arch angles, which determines 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 also adjustable, so you’re able to choose from several arch options as your needs change.

Acupressure and massage

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

A few back stretchers also have a massage function that provides vibrations that 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 it 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

You can expect to spend between $20-$100 on a back stretcher. Most orthopedic stretchers go for $30-$40 and feature padding, acupressure spikes, and an adjustable angle. If you want an option with a massage function, you likely have to 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 the stretcher, the less likely it is to happen. 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 other cases, it may take up to two months to feel the benefits. The key is to be patient and use the stretcher consistently.

What are the best back stretchers to buy?

Top back stretcher

CHISOFT’s Back Stretcher

CHISOFT’s Back Stretcher

What you need to know: A back stretcher that receives recommendations from many doctors thanks to its results and affordable price.

What you’ll love: Can relieve pain almost immediately. Has three different arch angles. Features acupressure spikes to soothe the muscles.

What you should consider: Causes back spasms for some users. Plastic parts can break sometimes.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top back stretcher for the money

North American Health + Wellness’ Arched Back Stretcher

North American Health + Wellness’ Arched Back Stretcher

What you need to know: A budget-friendly stretcher that isn’t adjustable but can provide immediate relief and doesn’t have any painful spikes.

What you’ll love: An excellent back stretcher for beginners. Features a highly durable design. Doesn’t contain any acupressure nodes that might cause pain.

What you should consider: Can increase back pain in some users. Doesn’t provide a particularly deep stretch.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Bodyease’s Back Stretcher

Bodyease’s Back Stretcher

What you need to know: Features acupressure nodes and memory foam to provide comfortable and effective back treatment.

What you’ll love: Folds for easy portability. Works especially well to treat herniated discs. Memory foam provides a more comfortable treatment.

What you should consider: Isn’t as durable as some users would like. Won’t work with all chairs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

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

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.