I have found a series of web pages by various reputable medical and
research groups that list and describe a series of exercises designed
to maintain optimal back health. The number of individual exercises
varies from list to list, but there is a lot of overlap between the
lists. Would you like to be given a series of web pages that each
describes a group of exercises? Or would you prefer a compendium and
distillation of 10 exercises that appear on all or most of all the
sites I have found? Also, would you prefer to have the exercises
described in the answer? Or would you prefer to have the exercises
listed and a web address where you can find the description of how to
do the exercise? The advantage to a web address is that many of them
have pictures that cannot be added to this answer.
Let me know what your preferences are.
---Google Answers Researcher--
All of the reputable sites suggest that you should not start any
exercise program without consulting a doctor first. If you are
experiencing back pain prior to, or during the exercises, stop the
exercises until you see a doctor.
That was my general disclaimer. Now, I will give you a synopsis of
what the various back health organizations say, and what would be good
exercises to perform on a regular basis. The stronger your back is,
the less likelihood of injury. And, the easier to heal when you are
For general back health, it is important to have strong abdominal
muscles as well as back muscles. Since these muscles act in concert
with one another, the strength of one is affected by the strength of
the others. If one set is particularly weak, it can put added stress
on the others. It is therefore better to do exercises that strengthen
It is best to complete a combination of flexion and extension
exercises to balance the trunk muscles. And, in general, do
exercises in sets of 5-10 repetitions a minimum of 4 times a week.
Strength building may take 6 weeks or more to show results.
There are some differences from site to site, but the following 10
exercises are the most commonly agreed upon.
1. Pelvic Tilt: Lie on floor with knees bent, feet parallel and arms
to the side; tighten lower abdominal muscles, pulling the navel and
lower back toward the floor, without using buttocks or leg muscles;
hold for 5-10 seconds.
2. Sit Ups: Lie with knees bent and feet and lower back on the
floor. Either cross your arms over your chest, or hold the back of
your neck. Slowly raise your shoulders, using your stomach muscles.
(Do no stretch with your neck or arms.) Hold for 10 seconds. Relax.
Repeat 5-10 times.
3. Leg Lifts: Lie on the floor with one leg straight and the other
bent. Slowly raise your straightened leg as far as you can. Hold for
10 seconds. Slowly lower your leg to the floor. Relax. Repeat 5-10
times. Repeat on other sides. Do not arch your back.
4. Prone Arm/Leg Raises: Lie on your stomach, keeping your neck
straight. Your legs should be straight and arms extended overhead.
Slowly raise and lower each arm and leg, one at a time, 5 times each.
Repeat, lifting right arm and left leg at the same time. Repeat,
lifting left arm and right leg at the same time.
5. Arm/Leg Raises: Get on all fours. Place your hands directly
under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Keep
your neck and back straight and slowly straighten the right arm,
reaching forward; hold 5-10 seconds; slowly lower arm to starting
position; 3-5 sets. Repeat with the left arm. Repeat with each leg,
slowly straightening it without arching back, extending the leg behind
the body; hold 5-10 seconds; slowly return to starting position.
Repeat, raising the right arm and left leg at the same time. Repeat,
raising the left arm and right leg at the same time.
6. Cat Curls: Get down on all fours, keeping your back straight and
your neck in a neutral, straight position. Slowly tighten lower
abdominals, rounding the back towards the ceiling; hold for 5-10
seconds. Release and return to neutral position. Then arch the back
slightly, hold for 5-10 seconds. Release and return to neutral
7. Wall Slides: Stand with your back against a wall, feet
shoulder-width apart. Slide down into a crouch with knees bent to
about 90 degrees. Hold for 5-10 seconds slide back up the wall.
Repeat 5 times.
8. Back Extension: Lie on your stomach. Arch your back as you push
up your chest with both hands while keeping your pelvis flat against
the floor. Push your back up until you reach a comfortable stretch in
the extended position. Repeat 5-10 times while holding each one for
5-10 seconds at a time.
9. Back Flexion: Lie on your back. Pull both knees to your chest
while simultaneously flexing your head forward until you reach a
comfortable stretch in a balled-up position. Do 5-10 repetitions of
this. Hold each one for 5-10.
10. Hamstring Stretch: Lie on your back with one leg straight on the
floor, and the other bent and with the knee lifted towards your chest.
Hold onto the ankle of your bent leg and slowly try to straighten
your leg. (Keep your lower back on the floor.) Hold for 5-10 seconds.
Relax. Repeat 5-10 times. Switch sides.
I hope the descriptions are clear enough to you. There are more
exercises and general discussions of back health at the following
At Spinehealth.com, they discuss the importance of strengthening both
your back and abdomen for optimal back health.
On the next page they describe a series of 9 exercises that should be
done on a regular basis for the health of you back: Pelvic Tilt,
Trunk Curl, Water Leg Lifts, Exercise Ball Sit-ups, Prone Arm/Leg
Raises, Arm/Leg Raises, Cat Curls, Water Knee to Chest, Exercise Ball
The University of Maryland?s division of environmental safety lists
and describes 4 back exercises that you should do on a regular basis:
Pelvic Tilt, Bent-Knee Sit-Ups, Hamstring Stretch, Leg Lift.
Your Orthopedic Connection
Gives lists and gives directions for 6 back exercises that you should
do every day. They are, Wall slides to strengthen back, hip, and leg
muscles, Leg raises to strengthen back and hip muscles, Partial sit-up
to strengthen stomach muscles, Back leg swing to strengthen hip and
back muscles, Exercises to decrease the strain on your back
Back Pain Site.
If you have any problems with this, please let me know. I hope this
works out for you. And, good luck with your exercise regime.
---Google Answers Researcher--
back health exercise
back health exercises