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Back Stretching Exercises - Types and Benefits

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4 min read


Back stretching exercises are a vital part of maintaining good spinal health. This article explains it in detail.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Published At October 31, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 30, 2023


Exercise is one of the essential parts of healthy living. It's also advised for better recovery post-surgery, especially for treating the spine after spinal injury or surgery. These exercises are therapeutic and help distribute nutrients into the disc space, soft tissues, and joints. In addition, if the patient exercises regularly, it helps improve mobility, minimize the recurrence of spinal disorders, and reduce the severity and duration of back pain.

Which Exercises Can Help In Maintaining A Healthy Back?

The exercises for maintaining a healthy back are divided into the following three categories:

1. Strengthening Exercises: Repeated muscle contractions are obtained until the muscle becomes tired.

2. Stretching or Flexibility Exercises: This is done to achieve slow and sustained muscle lengthening.

3. Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises: This category utilizes large muscles to perform steady exercises.

It is advisable to perform all these exercises slowly and comfortably to avoid injury. You should breathe naturally without holding your breath and exhale during exertion, followed by inhaling during relaxation while performing strengthening and flexibility exercises. You should consult your physical therapist or physician before initiating these exercises. You should not ignore pain while performing these exercises. If you have pain or feel like the pain is spreading to the legs, stop the activity and consult your physician for further guidance.

What Are The Types Of Strengthening Exercise?

Many types of exercises are available for strengthening the spine and achieving relief. It depends on personal choice and comfort which one you would like to perform. Following are the common types of strengthening exercises:

  • Pilates.

  • Tai chi.

  • Yoga.

  • Weight lifting and training.

  • BOSU ball.

  • Resistance bands.

  • Exercise ball.

What Are the Back Stretching Exercises?

1. Supine Hamstring Stretch: In this, you have to lie on your back and bend both knees. After that, wrap a rope or towel around one of your feet. Then, slowly lift one leg off the surface while holding both ends of the towel until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg. Hold it for 20 seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat it three times on each side. You can perform it twice a day.

2. Knee to Chest: This stretch helps elongate the lower back and relieves tension and pain. You can perform it by following the below-mentioned method:

  • Lie on the back of the floor.

  • Bend your knee and ensure both feet are flat on the floor.

  • Use both hands to bring one knee towards the chest until you feel comfortable stretching in the lower back.

  • Try holding the knee against the chest for 15 seconds-20 seconds by keeping the abdominals tight and pressing the spine to the floor.

  • Come back to the starting position.

  • Repeat the stretch with the opposite leg, and you can do it three times on each side twice a day.

3. Piriformis Stretch: In this, you have to lie on your back with your knees bent. Then bring one knee towards the opposite shoulder. You must not twist and keep a flat back. Repeat it thrice on each side.

4. Prone Quadriceps Stretch: In this, lie on your stomach. Then, place a rope, belt, or sheet around one of the feet, then pull the heel towards the buttock until a stretch is felt in front of the thigh. Hold it for 20 seconds, then come back to the initial position. Repeat it thrice on each side. You can perform this exercise twice a day.

5. Calf Stretch: First, stand facing a wall. Keep your back leg straight with your heel on the floor and place your foot facing forward. Then, bend your front knee slightly and lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in the calf. Ensure the back heel is placed on the floor throughout the period. Hold it for 20 seconds and then return to the beginning position. Repeat it three times on each side, and a person can perform this exercise twice daily.

What Are the Back Strengthening Exercises?

Following are the exercises that will help in strengthening your back:

1. Transverse Abdominal Contraction: First, lie on the back with knees bent and keep feet flat. Then tighten your abdominal muscles by pulling the belly button towards the spine. Repeat it ten times.

2. Bridging: This exercise helps activate the gluteus maximus muscle, which is the large muscle of the buttocks. This muscle is utilized when the hips are moved, especially while squatting. It is considered one of the body's most important muscles, and thus, a strong gluteus maximus can help support the lower back. One can perform this exercise by using the following steps:

  • Lie on the ground and bend your knees. Place the feet flat on the floor; the feet should be hip-width apart.

  • Press the feet to the floor and keep the arms by the sides.

  • Then, raise your buttocks from the ground until a straight line is formed by the body ranging from the shoulders to the knees.

  • Squeeze the buttocks while the shoulders remain on the floor.

  • Bring the buttocks down to the ground and rest for a few seconds.

  • Repeat it 15 times and then take a rest for 1 minute.

  • You can perform three sets of 15 repetitions.

3. Gluteal Squeeze: Lie on your back by bending both knees and then squeeze the buttocks together. Hold it for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat it ten times. You can do this exercise twice a day.

4. Transverse Abdominal March: First, lie on your back with both knees. Bring the belly button towards the spine, tightening the abdominal muscles. Next, March, lift one leg from the floor slowly, then change to the next leg. Make sure you pull the belly button towards the spine while performing this exercise. Repeat it ten times on each side, twice a day.

5. Wall Squats: First, stand with the back pressed against a wall. The distance between the feet and the wall should be approximately 1-2 feet away from the wall. Next, perform a squat for approximately ½ of the way down with feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure that the knees do not go beyond the toes. Hold it for 10 seconds and repeat it ten times. You can perform this exercise twice a day.


Back stretching exercises are essential for having good spine health and can be utilized while managing or recovering from spine issues. You can consult your physician or a specialist to know more about it through online medical platforms.

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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar
Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)


back strengthening exercises
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