Beginners Back Exercises Routine for Safe Back Strengthening

Do you suffer from episodes of back pain? Back Exercises Video

Would you like back exercises that reduce your risk of dowagers hump?

Maybe you’re simply looking for quick exercises that keep your spine strong and healthy (and your pelvic floor safe).

These 4 Physiotherapist-guided back exercises help you strengthen your spine and exercise safely.

  • Improve your upright posture
  • Reduce strain on your back and neck
  • Safely strengthen your upper and lower back muscles
  • Help prevent back injury
  • Promote a strong healthy pelvic floor (read on below)

Please scroll down below this video to check your suitability, tips for keeping these back exercises safe and step-by-step guidelines.

Video duration: 4 minutes

Can Back Exercises Improve Pelvic Floor Problems?

Yes! Having a healthy back and good upright posture are both very important for your pelvic floor.

How?

  1. When you have back or pelvic pain your pelvic floor muscles don’t work as effectively. This is why some women notice worsening prolapse symptoms or incontinence with lower back pain.
  2. When your posture is slumped forwards your deep supportive core muscles can’t work effectively. Good upright posture optimises your pelvic floor and deep abdominal muscle support for your trunk.

Inside Out Book & DVDABOUT THE PRESENTER, Michelle Kenway

Michelle Kenway is a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist and author of Inside Out – the Essential Women’s Guide to Pelvic Support, along with Dr Judith Goh Urogynaecologist. The Inside Out exercise DVD and book show women how to exercise safely and effectively with pelvic floor safe exercises.

Back Exercises Video Suitability

This routine is a general back strengthening exercise routine for the upper and lower back. These exercises will suit most women seeking a gentle healthy back exercise routine.

Start the exercises slowly and progress the number of exercises you complete gradually.

You may choose to do back strengthening exercises at intervals throughout the day – every little bit contributes to a stronger healthier back.

Every body is different and no one exercise program can suit everyone. If you have an existing back problem seek the approval of your health care provider before commencing new back strengthening exercises. In the unlikely event you experience any back discomfort associated with any of these exercises cease that exercise.

Upper Back Exercise 1: Push Back

Push back exercise strengthens the muscles between the shoulder blades.

This is a great exercise for improving upright posture and reducing neck and shoulder strain during regular activity.

Position

  • Start lying down prone
  • Position a pillow under your pelvis
  • Place your arms by your sides
  • Position your palms to face your thighs
  • Tuck your chin so that your forehead touches the mat

Action

  • Extend your arms
  • Draw your shoulder girdles back and down
  • Raise both arms backwards off the ground
  • Slowly lower your arms back to the ground
  • Keep both feet in contact with the ground
  • Repeat up to 10 times in a row

Progress

Use a light weight dumbbell in each hand

Exercise Tips

  • Always keep your chin tucked in and your forehead supported when doing exercises lying down prone on the mat. This will help you to minimise your risk or neck pain or neck injury.
  • Positioning a pillow or cushion under your pelvis can help to reduce the risk of lower back discomfort when doing exercises in prone position. This is recommended but not essential if your back feels comfortable without a support.

Upper Back Exercise 2: Stop Sign

Stop sign strengthens the muscles in the middle back and the back of the shoulders.

This is a terrific back strengthening exercise for promoting upright posture and avoiding slumped forwards upper back posture. Slumped forwards posture can increase the likelihood of spinal fractures with osteoporosis.

Position

  • Start lying down prone
  • Position a pillow under your pelvis
  • Place your arms out to your sides
  • Bend your elbows to right angles
  • Tuck your chin so that your forehead touches the mat

Action

  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together
  • Raise your elbows and wrists backwards away from the ground
  • Lower your arms back to the ground
  • Keep both feet in contact with the ground
  • Repeat up to 10 times in a row

Progress

Keep your arms raised above the ground for 5-10 second holds

Exercise Tip:

If you are prone to shoulder problems keep your elbows close to the sides of your trunk or avoid this exercise in favour of push back exercise (above).

Back Exercise 3: Lower Back Extension

This exercise strengthens the lower back.

Lower back extension exercise has been shown to benefit women exercising for lower back bone health.

Position

  • Start lying down prone
  • Position a pillow under your pelvis
  • Place your arms by your sides
  • Tuck your chin so that your forehead touches the mat

Action

  • Keep your chin tucked as you raise your upper body from the mat
  • Breathe out as you raise backwards
  • Keep both feet in contact with the ground
  • Lower your body slowly back down to the mat
  • Take a moment to recover before your next repetition
  • Repeat up to 10 times in a row

Exercise Tip

If you are prone to lower back pain avoid raising your trunk too far from the ground – keep your back raises smooth and controlled.

Back Exercise 4: Alternate Arm and Leg Raise

Alternate arm and leg raises strengthen the spine and the deep abdominal muscles.

This is an excellent spinal rehabilitation and core control exercise.

Position

  • Start lying down prone
  • Position a pillow under your pelvis
  • Position both arms raised above your head and extended on the mat
  • Tuck your chin so that your forehead touches the mat

Action

  • Gently engage your lower abdominal muscles
  • Slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg just off the ground
  • Lower both limbs slowly back to the ground
  • Relax your abdominal muscles
  • Repeat this action using the other arm and leg
  • Repeat up to 10 exercises in a row

Progress

Progress this exercise with variations shown on this Superman exercise video

Exercise Tips:

  • If your shoulders are sore avoid the arm raises and perform the leg raise only
  • Avoid raising the leg too high from the ground – high backward leg raises have potential to increase strain on the lower back

More Back Exercises

Back stretches video

Back Stretching Routine

For back exercises to ease back stiffness view Michelle’s back stretches video routine now

I hope you enjoy these back exercises and that they help you towards gaining strong supportive back muscles and good upright posture.

Feel most welcome to leave your comments and questions about back strengthening exercises below.

Comments

  1. Marg Nugent says:

    Hi Michelle, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for sharing such helpful information. Your expert knowledge and assistance has made such an improvement in my life and I’m sure in the lives of all those you touch. Thanks once again. Marg Nugent.

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Marg it’s my privilege to work with you – you are an inspiration in what you do and what you have achieved. When I see how strong and well you are and the hurdles you have overcome I am truly thrilled for you.
      Keep up your great work Marg!
      Michelle

  2. Hi Michelle

    I am recovering from vaginal rectal prolapse surgery 3 1/2 weeks ago, and wanted to thank you for the wonderful information on appropriate excercises for pelvic floor strengthening.

    I also have facet jount arthritis in my lower spine, and I am wondering if the back excercises are ok for me to do?

    Thanks again for the great job you are doing

    Regards

    Loris

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Lois
      Thanks for your question! Wait until you have your doctor’s approval before recommencing exercises post op. When you have this approval these back exercises will be the type of general strengthening exercises that are appropriate.

      You will notice i use a pillow under my hips with the exercises – this is for women like yourself; with facet joint arthritis when you lay down prone the facets close up. By using a pillow (in your case I would use two) you will find that these types of exercises can be performed without discomfort. I would be inclined to leave the 3rd exercise (back extensions) from the routine or only do a very small lift if you do this exercise as it is the one exercise that closes the facet joints which your lower back may not like.

      Does this help you?

      Kindest regards
      Michelle

  3. Dear Michelle, Thank you so much for putting together this wonderful site! You are answering all of the questions that I have had in the 20 years since my diagnosis! You are helping so many women, God bless you!

    Ok, here’s my question. I feel pelvic pressure when I do back exercise #3 (lower back extension). Am I doing something wrong?

    • Michelle Kenway says:

      Hi Carol

      Thanks for your comment – yes this may well be correct. I don’t believe that it’s because you’re doing something wrong – rather that your pelvic floor isn’t withstanding the pressure the exercise generates. Try not extending back as far ie keep extension very small range. In classes I often get ladies to use a pillow under the pelvis (not the belly) to reduce the amount of hyper-extension in the lower back with this exercise. Let me know how you go Carol. If you still feel symptoms leave it out.

      All the best
      Michelle