The 10 Best Back Exercises You Can Do at Home

We’ve all experienced back pain at one point or another. If you haven’t yet, chances are that you will. The condition is so common, that it seems almost inescapable. Back pain comes in various degrees and can be caused by several reasons, but any degree of back pain is enough to impact your daily life.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent and manage your back pain. Above all, exercise is the key to a pain-free back.

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Kelsey Simpson Medical Writer
Medically reviewed by 

In this guide, we explain the most common causes of back pain and how they can be prevented through exercise. We also introduce you to the ten best back exercises you can do at home.

Content:

What causes back pain?
Why is it Important to Do Back Exercises?
The Ten Best Back Exercises You Can Do at Home
When Should I See a Doctor?
How to Prevent and Avoid Future Back Pain
Conclusion

What causes back pain?

If you or a loved one have ever experienced back pain, you know that it’s serious, inconveniencing, and overall, uncomfortable. Back pain can impact a person’s daily life, making everyday tasks harder to complete, ultimately stopping people from getting the most out of life. Back pain can impact people of all ages and can have various degrees of pain depending on the person. Back pain can come about from a number of different reasons, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Injury to the spine or muscles
  • Bulging/ruptured disks
  • Osteoporosis
  • Strained ligaments and muscles

Some of these reasons are more serious than others and some are more common in certain age groups. No matter the reason, back pain can prevent you from completing daily responsibilities which can have detrimental effects on your quality of life. Exercise is key to preventing and managing back pain. In this Injurymap guide, we introduce you to the ten best exercises you can do at home.

Looking for a solution to your back pain? Try the Injurymap exercise app now.

Why is it Important to Do Back Exercises?

It’s important to exercise your back at home for a number of reasons; the most important being to start to heal your back issue before it worsens and becomes even more of an issue in everyday life.

The importance of exercising your back doesn’t diminish with age. In fact, a retirement community in PA offers physical therapy for residents that have hurt their back in the past, so that they won’t develop problems with back pain as they age.

It’s also extremely important to exercise your back even if you aren't currently having back pain. The daily exercises will keep your back strong and will prevent you from injuring your back later.

The Ten Best Back Exercises You Can Do at Home

Whether you are having back pain now, have had it in the past, or want to take precautions to prevent you from injuring you back in the future, it’s important to know what back exercises will help you. Here are the ten best back exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home.

  1. Standing back curve
    10 reps x 1 sets

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    This simple movement is great for people that have injured their back in the past and it is also a good stretch to do before doing a workout that may require extensive back use. Stand up with your knees slightly bent and then arch you back as forward as possible; from here, stand back up and then go down again. These movements will create stability in your spine and will stretch your back muscles.

    • Stand up with slightly bent knees.
    • Slowly bend your back forwards as far as possible.
    • Then slowly roll back up until you are standing upright again.
    • This should take two to four seconds going down and two to four seconds coming back up.
    • You can use your hands to support yourself on your knees as you're starting out.
    • Perform 10 repetitions without pausing.
  2. Stability exercise on knees I
    10 reps x 1 sets

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    This stability exercise is ideal for people that need to heal from a back injury and are looking to stabilise their back.

    • Lie on your hands and knees.
    • Pull the pelvis up and the navel in while keeping the body stable.
    • Alternate between lifting your right arm, left arm, right leg and left leg slightly from the ground.
    • The entire series represents one repetition.
    • Perform 10 repetitions.
  3. Lying pelvic lift
    3 reps x 1 sets

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    Derived from a yoga pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, this simple exercise is great for injured people or people that want to build a strong back as a proactive measure.This pose requires you to lie on the floor on your back with bent knees, your feet remaining flat on the floor. After you are in the right position, lift your hips up and down. Do this movement slow and make sure that the lower back comes to the floor before the rest of the back.

    The bridge pose will strengthen the lower back muscles and will also stretch the shoulders and spine.

    • Lie on your back with bent knees and your feet placed flat on the floor.
    • Lift the pelvis up align your body with it with your thighs.
    • Tilt your pelvis backward and suck in your belly button.
    • Slowly lower your back again by placing a small part of your back into the ground.
    • Make sure to control the movement so that you start by letting the upper part of the back hit the ground first and the pelvis hits the ground last.
    • The exercise should improve your control of each backbone.
    • Make sure to perform the exercise at a relaxed pace.
    • Repeat the exercise 3 times.
  4. Stability exercise on knees III
    10 reps x 1 sets

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    Also referred to as Bird Dogs, This exercise will alleviate lower back pain while also strengthening your core.

    Knee extensions will stretch the muscles directly parallel to your spine and will create stability. In terms of strengthening one’s core, this is a major benefit because the stronger one’s core is, the less likely that he or she will injure their back as they workout or lift heavy things.

    • Lie on your hands and knees.
    • Pull the pelvis up and the navel in while keeping the body stable.
    • Calmly lift one arm and the opposite leg such that they're both parallel with the floor.
    • Be aware that your pelvis is not lost to one of the sides and that your back does not sway backward.
    • Repeat the movement 10 times to each side.
  5. McKenzie bent arm
    5 reps

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    This movement can be done with a workout band or if you don’t have one of them, use a towel. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent. Next, you will lift one leg up and wrap either the band or towel around the foot of the lifted leg. Your leg should be fully extended as you pull the band or towel to the opposite shoulder. Make sure to do this on both sides of your body.

    A lying hamstring stretch will of course stretch one’s hamstrings and is a great warmup exercise to do before working out. Additionally, this will stretch and create strong upper back muscles. This movement is great to do as a warmup to prevent back injuries before a workout, or it’s a good back exercise to do if you have a hurt back and want to stretch it out.

    • Lie on your stomach.
    • Lift your upper body up with your arms so your back sways backward.
    • Relax the abdominal and back muscles.
    • Hold the position for 10 seconds and then return to the starting position.
    • Perform 5 repetitions.
  6. Lying hamstring stretch
    30 sec. x 3 sets

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    • Lie on your back and place a towel over the toes of one of your feet.
    • Stretch the leg until it is fully extended.
    • Grabbing the towel on either end, use your arms to pull the towel towards you, so that your foot is pulled towards the opposite shoulder.
    • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and perform 3 repetitions with each leg.
  7. Leg lift on the floor V
    5 reps x 1 sets

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    • Lie on your back with bent knees and your feet placed flat on the floor.
    • Place your hands on your lower back and press it down towards the floor by sucking in your belly and flexing your abdominal muscles.
    • Lift your feet a few inches from the floor and extend your legs until they are fully stretched then slowly pull your legs back again.
    • Make sure that your hands do not lose contact with your lower back.
    • Perform 5 repetitions without pause.
  8. Curl and sway on knees
    10 reps x 1 sets

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    • Lie on your hands and knees.
    • Curb your back then slowly sway it the other way.
    • Move slowly so that the full movement takes between 2 and 4 seconds.
    • The entire series represents one repetition.
    • Perform 10 repetitions without pausing.
  9. Lying back stretch
    30 sec. x 3 sets

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    Bringing your knee to your chest is a great way to alleviate lower back pain. This simple and easy movement will stretch your lower back muscles and well alleviate pressure on spinal nerves by creating more space for nerves to exit the spine.

    Focusing on your lumbar spine (your lower back to your hip), this movement simply requires you to lie on your back and bring your knee to your chest. You can hold this position for as long as you want; try to do ten on each side in order to get all of the benefits of this position.

    • Lie on your back with bent knees and your feet placed flat on the floor.
    • Extend your back muscles by pulling your legs up to the chest.
    • Keep stretching for 30 seconds and perform 3 repetitions.
  10. McKenzie II
    5 reps

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    Another yoga pose, this exercise is straightforward and will lengthen and stretch the spine. The cobra pose requires you to lay on your stomach, legs flat on the ground. From here, you will lift your upper body, resting on your forearms, palms flat on the ground. At this point, your chest should be off the floor with relaxed shoulders. Hold this pose for five breaths, then come down for two breaths and go back up.

    This pose can act as an exercise for people who are currently experiencing back pain or those who want to preserve their spine's strength.

    • Lie on your stomach.
    • Lift your upper body up with your arms so the back sways backward, rest on your hands with outstretched arms and relax in the muscles of the back.
    • Hold the position for 10 seconds.
    • Repeat the exercise 5 times.

When Should I See a Doctor?

If you suffer from persistent back pain that cannot be alleviated through exercise, it’s important that you consult a doctor. Additionally, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms in any part of you back, it’s imperative that you see a doctor so that you don’t hurt yourself further:

  • A pinching feeling
  • The inability to bend all the way over or get back up
  • An uncomfortable tightness
  • A pointy feeling

Also, it’s important to see a doctor if any pain lasts for longer than two weeks.

How to Prevent and Avoid Future Back Pain

You can prevent and avoid future back pain by going through the exercises mentioned in this guide on a regular basis. Make sure you are doing the exercises correctly – the Injurymap app contains helpful videos and guides.

Remember that bodies are different, and in order to avoid future back pain, it’s important to make sure that you are only doing movements and exercises that are right for your body.

To avoid back pain when you are working out, make sure to properly stretch before getting into a workout and to use weights that are manageable. A lot of the time back injuries come from not properly stretching or doing a movement incorrectly when working out. Take necessary precautions as you exercise to make sure that you are taking proper care of your back.

Some other ways to avoid back pain include:

  • Sleep on a quality mattress
  • Don’t lift heavy things alone
  • Sleep on your back; avoid sleeping on the stomach
  • Strengthen your abs
  • Avoid twisting motions
  • Maintain a healthy body weight

Conclusion

Back pain is uncomfortable and can severely affect your quality of life. Whether you have injured your back before or you simply want to preserve your muscles, it's important to take care of your back so that it remains strong and allows you to properly live your life and complete daily tasks.

If you are experiencing prolonged or excruciating back pain, see a doctor; however, if your back is only slightly sore or you are recovering from a recent injury, try some of these excises and see what they can do for you.

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About the author

Kelsey Simpson is a freelance, medical writer that enjoys writing about topics that educate and help others with their physical health. She lives in South Jersey and is the proud companion to two German Shepherds and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.