Health Education

Back Exercises

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The following exercises are designed to increase your strength and flexibility. Stretch to the point of a gentle stretch and hold it, without bouncing. The stretches can be performed all at once or spread throughout the day. You should stretch at least 5 days a week. When back pain occurs because of reduced strength and decreased flexibility, exercises focused on the back, the abdomen, the lateral trunk flexors and the pectorals (chest muscles) are helpful. Always discontinue an exercise if it is truly painful and make an appointment in the office to see us.

What are some exercises for my lower back?

Lower back exercises include:

  • Knee to chest: lie on your back with your knees bent and feet resting on the floor. With your hands, pull one knee to your chest, then pull the other until you feel a gentle stretch in the lower back. Hold 10 counts and then put one leg down at a time. Do 10-15 repetitions.
  • Rotation: lie on your back with your knees bent slightly and feet resting on the floor. Keeping your shoulders on the floor, slowly drop your knees to one side, until you feel a gentle stretch in the lower back. Hold 10 counts and then bring your knees back to the center before repeating the stretch. Do 10-15 repetitions to each side.

What are some abdominal and lateral trunk exercises?

Exercises for these areas include:

  • Extension: lie on your stomach and prop up on your elbows until you feel a gentle stretch along your stomach muscles. Hold 10 counts and then relax. Do 10-15 repetitions. If this painful, try lying flat on your stomach instead. As the stretch becomes easier, try to slowly straighten your elbows to increase the stretch.
  • Side bends: sit or stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a normal curve in the low back, midback and neck. Slowly bend to one side until you feel a gentle stretch along the other side of your body. Hold 10 counts and then relax. Do 10-15 repetitions to each side.
  • Doorway stretch: stand with one foot in front of the other and a normal curve in your low back, midback and neck. Bend your elbows to 90° and place your forearm(s) on the doorway wall(s). Slowly shift your weight to your lead leg until you feel a gentle stretch in the chest muscles. Do 10-15 repetitions to each side. Hold 10 counts and then relax.

What are some exercises for the chest muscles?

Chest exercises include:

  • Shoulder blade hug: stand or sit with a normal curve in the low back, midback and neck. Grab your elbow with the opposite hand and pull it straight across your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of the shoulder. Hold 10 counts and then relax. Do 10-15 repetitions to each side.