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Exercises and Stretches to Prevent Back Pain

Did you know that your back has over 200 muscles? Out of those 200, 120 help support the spinal column. Now you are probably thinking well I don't have back problems but even the slightest awkward movement can strain any of those back muscles. In fact, over 80% of people worldwide will experience back pain at some point in their life.

With spring coming and as we are able to get up and out more or even just start our spring cleaning, I wanted to touch on a few exercises and stretches to help prevent back pain or strain. It is very important to do these exercises with the correct form in order to avoid straining our back, because just like I said before any awkward movement can cause strain.

Stabilization is another important aspect of a healthy spine, and the core muscles attribute a large portion of or spines stability. With that said, posture is one of the easiest and most effective tools of staying out of back pain. Here is a short list of exercises to target both the spinal stabilizers as well as abdominal muscles.

1. Bird Dog (Alternate both sides)

This is a great exercise to improve core strength and lumbar back muscles.

How to do it:

– Begin on your hands and knees, with your hands positioned under your shoulders and knees positioned under your hips. – Brace (contract) your core as hard as you can before beginning any movement. – While bracing your core, raise your left arm and reach it forwards until it is aligned with your torso; at the same time, kick your right leg backwards until is it aligned with your torso. – It’s important to not arch your low back as you do this. – Hold this position for 2-3 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. – Repeat with your right arm and left leg. – Alternate sides for 10 repetitions.

2. Glute Bridge

This exercise helps to strengthen both your core, gluteal and back muscles.

How to do it:

-- Begin lying on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet positioned flat on the floor with your arms positioned beside your torso. – Brace your core and squeeze your butt before any movement. – While bracing, lift your butt off the floor, and continue squeezing your butt. – Hold this position for 5 seconds and return slowly to the starting position. – Aim for 10 repetitions.

3. Squats

This full-body exercise helps to strengthen your gluteals, hamstrings, and back, among other muscles.

How to do it: – Begin in a standing position with your feet positioned about shoulder width apart. – Look straight ahead and brace your core. – Keep your abdominals tight, then hinge at your hips and bent your knees to about 90 degree angle (as if you’re sitting). – To come up, use your legs first and then follow through with your glutes (squeeze your butt). – Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions.

4. Plank

This exercise is ideal for strengthening both your deep core and gluteal muscles.

How to do it: – Begin lying on your stomach with your forearms against the mat. – Engage your core and lift your body so that you are resting on your forearms and toes. – Ensure that your spine is in a neutral spinal position (not sagging in low back, or lifting butt in the air). – Hold the plank position for 20-30 sec, Then lower down to floor. – Aim for 2 to 5 repetitions of this exercise. ** Ensure to keep your back straight throughout the entire exercise.

5. Side Plank

The side plank is perfect for strengthening the sides of your core muscles and low back.

How to do it: – Begin by positioning your body sideways. – Place one elbow in a 90 degree angle and stack your feet and legs together. – Now brace your core and butt muscles and lift your hips off the floor. – Support your weight on your elbow and feet. – Try to keep your whole body aligned from top to bottom. – Hold the lifted position for 30 sec. – Now do the side plank on the other side. – Repeat 3 times on each side.

6. Dead Bug (Alternate both sides)

This exercise helps to increase deep core strength, and it also helps to improve hip and trunk stability.

How to do it: – Begin lying on your back with both arms extended towards the ceiling. – Lift your legs off the floor to 90 degrees. – Exhale to bring your ribcage down and try to flatten your back onto the floor by rotating your pelvis upwards and bracing your core muscles (this is the starting position for this exercise that you need to hold throughout the movement). – Start the exercise by extending your left leg, straightening at the knee and hip and bringing the leg down to just above the floor (don’t let your lower back arch); at the same time, lower your right arm back to just above the floor. – Keep your abdominal and gluteal muscles tightened and return your left leg and right arm to the starting position. – Repeat with your right leg and left arm. – Alternate sides for 20 repetitions

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