Top 13 Exercises to Strengthen Your Back and Reduce Back Pain (Including Detailed Illustrations)
Most people in the United States will experience back pain at least once during their lives. I’m not talking just about lower back pain, but about upper back pain as well. I’ve written in the past about how to relieve back pain. My previous article was about what to do when you have a back pain but it’s far better to prevent the back pain from occurring! In this post I will teach you how to prevent back pain by doing 13 simple exercises.
it’s important to emphasize that the back exercises listed below should be performed when you are pain free. If you experience pain, or have any injury or medical condition it is best not to do these exercises until you see your doctor, chiropractor or a physical therapist. They can guide you on the appropriate exercises for your condition.
The aim of these exercises is to improve spine mobility, stretch the muscles groups attached to the spine and improve their balance and strength.
To strengthen your back, try to perform some of the exercises listed below 2-3 times per day.
1. Cat stretch
This exercise is beneficial for the lower back. Arch your back up towards the ceiling and relax your neck while you deeply inhale. Hold for few seconds and then exhale, drop your chest towards the floor while maintaining firm abdominals and slightly raise your head. Repeat 10 times.
2. Bend knee to chest
This exercise is for the low back and stretches your hip muscles. Lie down on the floor and pull your knee towards your chest while keeping your tailbone on the floor. Hold each stretch for few seconds and repeat 3 times for each side.
3. Ankle over knee
This exercise is for the lower back and your hips. Lie down on the floor with both knees bent while keeping the tailbone on the floor. Place your left ankle the right leg’s knee and push your left knee down with you left hand. Hold for few seconds and repeat 3 times. Do the same exercise with the other leg.
4. Press up
Lay on the floor leaning on your bent forearms. Then press your hands to stretch your back. Try to tighten your abdominals while doing this exercise. Keep your head and neck in line with the rest of the spine. Hold for a few seconds, rest briefly and repeat 5-10 times.
5. Knee rolls
Lie on your back. Keep your knees bent and together. Your upper body should be relaxed and your chin slightly tucked in. Roll your knees to one side, as well as your pelvis, but make sure to keep both shoulders on the floor. Hold the stretch for one deep breath and return to the starting position. Repeat 5-10 times, alternating sides.
6. Pelvic tilts
This exercise stretches and strengthens the lower back. Lie on your back, bend your knees and keep your feet hip-width apart. Your upper body should be relaxed and your chin slightly tucked in. Now flatten your lower back on the floor and contract your stomach muscles. You do it by tilting your pelvis towards your heels. Hold for a few seconds then return to the starting position. Repeat 10-15 times.
7. Raise your hips
Lie down on your back and place your hands alongside your body. Bend your legs and keep your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be aligned with your toes. Lift your hips and back until only the base of your shoulder blades remains on the floor. Try to hold this position for 3 deep breaths. Lower your hips and repeat 5-10 times.
8. Kneeling lunge stretch
This exercise stretches the muscles between the front of your thigh and the lumber vertebrae which are called hip flexor muscles. These muscles can pull the spine out of alignment if they are too tight. Position yourself as per the illustration while keeping yourself upright and not leaning forward. Stretch the front of your upper thigh but keep your hips even. Hold for few seconds and repeat on the other side.
9. Quad opposite arm-leg raise
Balance your body on your hands and knees, with hands located shoulder-width apart and slightly forward, and knees below your hips and slightly apart. Lengthen your right leg and left hand simultaneously. Return to the base position and do the same with the other side (Lengthen your left leg and right hand simultaneously).
10. Side plank
Lie on your right side, with straight legs, resting on your right forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder. Gently contract your abdominals and lift your hips off the floor, maintaining straight line. Keep your neck in line with your spine. Hold 20 to 40 seconds and lower. Repeat two to three times, alternating sides. If you find it too difficult, start with bent knees.
11. Front Bridge exercise
This exercise is great for strengthening you core muscles. Suck your belly button and keep your body as straight as possible without locking your knees. Continue to breath and don’t hold your breath. Hold yourself in this position as long as you can, then rest. Repeat 2-3 times. Gradually extend the time of holding yourself in the position.
12. Shoulder blade stretch
Sit on a chair or a stool while maintaining good posture, then pull your shoulder blades backwards . Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat 5 times.
13. Chin Tuck Exercise
As many of us age, and due to medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis, there is a tendency to let the posture go. Our upper back begins to round forward, which then pushes our neck and head forward and out of proper alignment. This can lead to chronic neck and back pain. Do this exercise while sitting straight on a chair without tipping your head in any direction, pull your chin and head straight back. You will feel a stretch at the back of your neck. Relax the chin back forward to a neutral position. Repeat for 8-10 repetitions. You can use this exercise throughout the day to maintain good posture.
Start taking care of your back now as it needs to serve you for many years to come.
Read my other related articles:
1. Lower Back and Stomach Pain: Possible Causes and Treatments
2. Foam Roller Exercises for Sciatic and Back Pain
3. How to Relieve Back Pain and Muscle Tension Naturally