Back Extensions

You don't have to be a professional athlete to do back extensions. In fact, they're common in yoga, Pilates, and other stretching and strengthening exercises.

Stretching ExercisesDeveloping strong back muscles can help reduce injuries and improve your posture.

There are some muscles that run along the length of your spine that help support it. One of the most important muscles in your back is the erector spinae. It's actually a large, deep muscle group. If this major muscle group is weak, you can have back pain.

Back Extension Basics
Back extensions can be done by using a machine, with an exercise ball, or no props at all (as described in the exercises below).

To get started, it's a good idea to work with a certified personal trainer who has experience helping people with back pain. He or she can also teach you proper form and alignment.

The following exercise recommendations are suggestions only. Before doing these exercises or any other type of exercise, have a conversation with your doctor. And if you experience increased pain while doing these exercises, call your doctor right away.

3 Back Extensions You Can Do

  • Start on hands and knees. Hands are shoulder-distance apart and knees are hip-distance apart.
  • Inhale and arch your spine by rocking your pelvis toward the floor. Look up toward the ceiling.
  • As you exhale, move back to your starting neutral back position.
  • Inhale, and repeat. Link your inhales and exhales with your movement.
  • Do the cow stretch 5 to 10 times once a day. (In yoga, this stretch is often combined with the cat stretch, with is a back flexion stretch.)

Upper Back Extension

  • Start on your stomach with a small pillow or towel roll under your hips. Your arms should be along your sides.
  • Slowly lift your upper body off the floor, contracting your low back muscles.
  • Hold 3 seconds before lowering your body to the floor.
  • Repeat 10 times.

You can watch a video on this upper back extension stretch.

Opposite Arm and Leg Extension

  • Lie on your stomach with legs together and arms stretched out in front of you.
  • Bring your belly button to your tailbone as you lift your arms and legs off the floor (about hip height or higher).
  • Pump your right arm down and left leg down so they're just grazing the ground, and then bring them back to hip height and pump your left arm and right leg down. Continue to alternate right arm/left leg and left arm/right leg in small pulse-like movements. Keep your gaze toward the mat.
  • Repeat 3 times every day.

Watch a video on how to do opposite arm and leg extension.

These are just a few of the back extensions that can help you build strong back muscles. Doing these exercises regularly may decrease or prevent back pain.

Updated on: 11/19/15
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