Exercises for a Stronger Back

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 - 5:10pm

By Michele Silence, MA

Back problems plaque eight out of ten people during the course of a lifetime. Some 80 billion dollars are spent on back pain each year which usually takes hold of 30-year-olds to 50-year-olds, right in the middle of typically busy, active lives.

It is estimated that the majority of back problems can be prevented and alleviated by keeping the musculoskeletal system strong and limber.  Specific exercises and stretches that can help you develop a stronger and more resilient back follow. Do them regularly, several times a week for a strong, limber back. If you feel pain with any of them, discontinue the exercise and ask your physician for variations appropriate for you.


1. Back Extensions
Lie over an exercise ball face down. With hands behind your head, lift your upper body until your spine forms a straight line. 
Safety Note: Do not swing or arch the back excessively.

Back Extension Stretches (click image to enlarge)
Back Extension Exercises (click to enlarge)
2. Pelvic Tilts
Lie on the floor with knees bent. Lift pelvis off the ground and then back down.
Safety Note: Keep back on the ground and only tilt the pelvis upward.

Pelvic Tilt (click to enlarge)
Pelvic Tilt (click to enlarge)
3. Wall Roll Downs
Place ball on a wall and lean against it. Roll down and up.
Safety Note: Make sure the feet are far enough out in front that the knees stay at a right angle at the bottom of the movement.


Wall Roll Down Stretch (click to enlarge)

Wall Roll Down Stretch (click image to enlarge)

4. Abdominal Crunches
Sit on an exercise ball and walk your feet out in front of you until the middle of your back is pressing against the ball. Place hands behind head and lift shoulders off the ball while pressing back into the ball. Return to starting position and repeat.
Safety Note: Do not arch back on the return phase.

Abdominal Crunch Exercises (click to enlarge)

Abdominal Crunch Exercises (click to enlarge)


1. Back Stretch
Lie on your back on the floor. Make your body into a round ball and hold.

Back Stretch (click image to enlarge)

2. Abductor/Gluteal Stretch
Lie on your back with knees bent. Place one foot on the other knee. Lift both knees to the chest. Repeat on other side.

Abductor Stretch (click to enlarge)

3. Lower Back Stretch
Pull one leg into the chest, the other leg bent with foot on the floor. Let top knee drop to the opposite side of the body and hold. Repeat on other leg.
Lower Back Stretch (click image to enlarge)
4. Quad stretch
Lie on floor with knees bent. Widen legs and tilt both knees to the side while trying to get the knees to the floor. Repeat other side.

Quad Stretch (click to enlarge)

5. Abdominal Stretch
Lie flat on the floor and lengthen arms overhead and legs downward.
Ab Stretch (click to enlarge)
Benefits of Back Exercises

By taking care of your back you will not only ward off back pain but improve your posture as well. You will stand taller, look younger, and be strong enough to protect yourself from being injured by day-to-day activities.

*This article is intended for general information purposes only, is not individual-specific, nor is it intended to replace the advice of your healthcare team.