Back Exercises

These exercises may help you when beginning to rehabilitate your injury. Your symptoms may resolve with or without further involvement from your physician, physical therapist or athletic trainer. While completing these exercises, remember:

  • Restoring tissue flexibility helps normal motion to return to the joints. This allows healthier, less painful movement and activity.

  • An effective stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds.

  • A stretch should never be painful. You should only feel a gentle lengthening or release in the stretched tissue.

ExitCare Image STRETCH – Extension, Prone on Elbows

  • Lie on your stomach on the floor, a bed will be too soft. Place your palms about shoulder width apart and at the height of your head.

  • Place your elbows under your shoulders. If this is too painful, stack pillows under your chest.

  • Allow your body to relax so that your hips drop lower and make contact more completely with the floor.

  • Hold this position for __________ seconds.

  • Slowly return to lying flat on the floor.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

ExitCare Image RANGE OF MOTION – Extension, Prone Press Ups

  • Lie on your stomach on the floor, a bed will be too soft. Place your palms about shoulder width apart and at the height of your head.

  • Keeping your back as relaxed as possible, slowly straighten your elbows while keeping your hips on the floor. You may adjust the placement of your hands to maximize your comfort. As you gain motion, your hands will come more underneath your shoulders.

  • Hold this position __________ seconds.

  • Slowly return to lying flat on the floor.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

ExitCare Image RANGE OF MOTION- Quadruped, Neutral Spine

  • Assume a hands and knees position on a firm surface. Keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. You may place padding under your knees for comfort.

  • Drop your head and point your tail bone toward the ground below you. This will round out your low back like an angry cat. Hold this position for __________ seconds.

  • Slowly lift your head and release your tail bone so that your back sags into a large arch, like an old horse.

  • Hold this position for __________ seconds.

  • Repeat this until you feel limber in your low back.

  • Now, find your "sweet spot." This will be the most comfortable position somewhere between the two previous positions. This is your neutral spine. Once you have found this position, tense your stomach muscles to support your low back.

  • Hold this position for __________ seconds.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

ExitCare Image STRETCH – Flexion, Single Knee to Chest

  • Lie on a firm bed or floor with both legs extended in front of you.

  • Keeping one leg in contact with the floor, bring your opposite knee to your chest. Hold your leg in place by either grabbing behind your thigh or at your knee.

  • Pull until you feel a gentle stretch in your low back. Hold __________ seconds.

  • Slowly release your grasp and repeat the exercise with the opposite side.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

ExitCare Image STRETCH - Hamstrings, Standing

  • Stand or sit and extend your right / left leg, placing your foot on a chair or foot stool

  • Keeping a slight arch in your low back and your hips straight forward.

  • Lead with your chest and lean forward at the waist until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your right / left knee or thigh. (When done correctly, this exercise requires leaning only a small distance.)

  • Hold this position for __________ seconds.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this stretch __________ times per day.

ExitCare Image STRENGTHENING – Deep Abdominals, Pelvic Tilt

  • Lie on a firm bed or floor. Keeping your legs in front of you, bend your knees so they are both pointed toward the ceiling and your feet are flat on the floor.

  • Tense your lower abdominal muscles to press your low back into the floor. This motion will rotate your pelvis so that your tail bone is scooping upwards rather than pointing at your feet or into the floor.

  • With a gentle tension and even breathing, hold this position for __________ seconds.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

ExitCare Image STRENGTHENING – Abdominals, Crunches

  • Lie on a firm bed or floor. Keeping your legs in front of you, bend your knees so they are both pointed toward the ceiling and your feet are flat on the floor. Cross your arms over your chest.

  • Slightly tip your chin down without bending your neck.

  • Tense your abdominals and slowly lift your trunk high enough to just clear your shoulder blades. Lifting higher can put excessive stress on the low back and does not further strengthen your abdominal muscles.

  • Control your return to the starting position.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

ExitCare Image STRENGTHENING – Quadruped, Opposite UE/LE Lift

  • Assume a hands and knees position on a firm surface. Keep your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. You may place padding under your knees for comfort.

  • Find your neutral spine and gently tense your abdominal muscles so that you can maintain this position. Your shoulders and hips should form a rectangle that is parallel with the floor and is not twisted.

  • Keeping your trunk steady, lift your right hand no higher than your shoulder and then your left leg no higher than your hip. Make sure you are not holding your breath. Hold this position __________ seconds.

  • Continuing to keep your abdominal muscles tense and your back steady, slowly return to your starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.