Back Exercises

There are several structures in the musculoskeletal system that are responsible for the movements of the spine, protection, and stabilization. There are many things that can destabilize the spine, cause partial dislocations of its elements, and throw it our of proper balance. The abdominal and back muscles (collectively called the core muscles) may either be the cause of back pain, due to weakness or imbalances, or a corrective treatment for degenerative back conditions.

Treating back pain often doesn't involve a simple and finite process of finding the cause of the pain and curing the cause with a specific back pain treatment. Often, the correct response to many back conditions will be palliative care rather than attempting to cure. This doesn't mean that we can't treat back pain and significantly diminish your symptoms. It just means that some causes of chronic back pain (pain lasting for longer than 6 months) will likely be something that you will have to deal with from time to time. Some causes of chronic back pain include spondylosis, facet arthropathy, degenerative disc disease, and Retrolisthesis, among many others.

The following back conditions just mentioned may have the affect of pushing the individual segments of the spine downwards, forwards, or tilting the affected segments towards one side. This destabilization of the spine may affecting other sections of the spine as well, advancing the rate of degenerative processes such as causing arthritis and stretching of the soft tissues. Often, we may be able to slow or reverse these degenerative processes by increasing the strength and power of the muscles connected to these now unstable segments. A well designed program of back pain can thus help us to treat many different types and causes of lower back pain. By harnessing and developing our core muscles, we may be able to compensate for irreversible degenerative changes to the back that cause instability to it by increasing the strength of the muscles that connect to that part of the back. Here is a partial list of back exercises to accomplish this purpose:
  • Set-Up: Required equipment associated with this exercise includes a long stick and a half roller. With this exercise, you will hold the stick with both hands above your head, positioned at the 11 and 1 o'clock positions. Position your feet hip-width apart. This position of the feet will allow your hips, knees, and ankles to move together during the squatting movement. In this exercise, the position of your body above the waist will remain the same while you alternate between a locked knee position and a squat position where your knees become parallel to your hips. You don't need the half roller for this exercise, but may want to use it to rest your heels if you are having trouble with your balance. This exercises challenges the muscles and soft tissues of the hips, back, and shoulders.
  • Stair Walking: To perform repetitions of this exercise, a person can use the front step in their house or a stationary platform raised about ten inches off the ground. The person will position themselves behind the step with their hands at their waist and feet hip-width apart. The patient will alternate feet to lift and press their foot onto the step/platform to engage their hip and lower back muscles. If this exercise is too difficult you may do it using a railing for balance until you feel stronger. Place the entire heel onto the step without rotating your hips or torso. This exercise will challenge some of your back muscles.
  • Spinal Whip: This exercise specifically engages your middle back muscles. To get into position to go onto all fours, with your arms straight and situated directly below your shoulders, on the ground. Your knees, lower leg, and dorsal surface (front of your feet) will be touching the ground. Before you begin the exercise, your back will be straight, and your knees will be spread apart, at about the distance to the side of your hips, and situated just below your hips. For this exercise, you will slowly alternate between a straight back and an arched back where the shoulder blades from their neutral position to the outside of your upper body. This exercise will emphasize moving from the middle back through the sternum.