Exercises for a Healthy Back

Besides practicing good posture, there are exercises you can do to keep your back healthy. We'll show you some of them in this article. Keep reading to learn about them and put them into practice.
Exercises for a Healthy Back

Last update: 27 June, 2021

Several factors can contribute to not having a healthy back. They range from sedentarism, to age, to your type of job, and physical overexertion. Even sports can play a role.

There are many causes that can contribute to pain in various lumbar areas. However, there are also ways to alleviate and prevent pain and injuries through practicing several exercises. In this article, we’ll show you a routine you can try that helps keep your back healthy.

Benefits of having a healthy back

Sometimes we suffer from pain in the cervical spine, or from lumbago. This is a very common occurrence. A routine office job in front of the computer, little exercise, poor posture, and overexertion often cause back problems.

To understand the benefits of having a healthy back, it’s sufficient to think about what happens when it isn’t healthy. In a healthy state, we can enjoy the following benefits:

  • No pain while sitting or waking up in the morning.
  • We have better posture all the time.
  • We protect the spinal column and prevent pain in the neck, head, shoulders, waist, and limbs.
  • Chronic fatigue is avoided, and we have more energy. This increases mobility and flexibility.
  • We breathe better, with better circulation.
  • We save money on healthcare costs, from therapies to anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications.
Back pain can limit a person's daily activities.
Back pain associated with lumbago can limit a person’s everyday activities for a significant time.

Exercises for a healthy back

Ahead, we’ll explain some exercises you can try for keeping your back healthy. The goal of these exercises is to help to stretch and move this part of the body, thereby strengthening it. This is especially necessary when we spend many hours sitting or standing.

They’re useful exercises for relieving or preventing pain, and even to improve posture when walking or sitting. They also help to recover from pain or injury due to fatigue or overexertion.

There are several kinds of exercises for keeping your back healthy. They can be classified into three types:

  • Stretching: They help relax the spine and can be useful for relieving pain.
  • Mobility: As the name implies, they help with the movement of muscles, tendons, and joints.
  • Strength: This type of exercise helps tone muscles.

Ahead, we’ll see an exercise routine that you can do to keep your back healthy, combining the different types. We’ll start with the head and work our way down to the neck, shoulders, and finally the lumbar spine.

Shoulder stretches

While standing with your legs slightly apart, so your heels are even with your hips, place your fingertips on your shoulders (right hand, right shoulder).

Move your elbows in a circular motion, first forward, then backward, stretching as far as possible. Remember to stand up straight without moving or swaying your pelvis.

Trapezium stretches

With your right hand placed slightly above your left ear, tilt and rotate your head slightly, as if you were pulling your head.

It should be a deep movement, but soft and slow. Hold the position for a few seconds, and then change hands. Repeat, but this time pulling backwards. You can do this stretch while sitting or standing.

Side stretch

The same position from earlier is used. Raise your right hand, pointing toward the ceiling, and lean your torso to the left. Rest your other hand at your waist.

You’ll feel how the musculature of your side tenses, from your waist to the lower ribs. Keep that position for a few seconds while leaning slightly to stretch further. Then switch and do it using your other arm.

Stretching the Erector Spinae

While seated in an upright position, preferably on a stool, lean your torso forward with your hands hanging down until your chest touches your thighs. In that position, join your feet and hands and keep that position for a few seconds.

A variation of this exercise is done standing, but you can only do it if you’re flexible enough for your head to reach your knees. This stretches the posterior muscles of the legs.

Cat-cow

This curiously named exercise is a yoga pose. To do it, you need to get down on all fours. Line your hands up with your shoulders, and line your knees up with your hips.

From this position, lower your head, moving your chin towards your chest as your abdomen contracts. Then raise your head, arching your waist, and moving your chest forward and shoulders backwards.

It seems complicated, but it’s very simple to do. You should do this movement slowly to avoid injury, especially when you arch your waist. It’s also important to pay attention to your breathing. Inhale when raising your head, and exhale when lowering it.

The cobra

Now we’re on to another animal. This time it’s the cobra. This exercise is done lying face down on an exercise mat, with your palms on the ground next to your shoulders.

Push with your hands, stretching your arms to lift your upper torso slowly off the ground. Keep your pelvis in contact with the mat. You don’t need to completely stretch your arms. You should hold the position for several seconds. Try to keep your neck relaxed.

Elbow plank

Do this exercise face down as in the previous exercise, lying on a mat. Your forearms should be parallel to your body. Support your body’s weight with your forearms, holding up your weight with your elbows and the tips of your toes. Hold that position for 15 seconds or a little longer.

Gluteus bridge

Do this on the exercise mat, but this time facing up. You’ll bend your knees, with your heels close to your gluteus, and hands at your sides with your palms facing down.

Raise your pelvis so the back of the knees and your shoulder blades form a straight line. Hold that position for several seconds. This exercise strengthens the erector muscles, as well as the abdominal and gluteal muscles.

Side plank

On your side, with your elbow below your shoulder and supporting yourself with your forearm and feet, hold a diagonal position. You shouldn’t touch the floor with your hips. Hold this position for a few seconds. Then switch sides, holding yourself up with your other forearm.

Side plank is one exercise that can keep your back healthy.
Variations of plank exercises are useful for keeping your back healthy.

Knees to chest

We’re on the mat again, lying down while facing up. With your hands on your knees, try to move them towards your chest, holding this position for several seconds. You can use both knees at the same time, or alternately.

A healthy back means a healthy body too

Practicing this routine won’t take you too much time. It can be done in 30 minutes a couple of times a week. However, the benefits it entails are numerous.

All of these exercises are tremendously useful for keeping your back healthy, for relieving aches and pains, preventing spasms, and maintaining correct postural hygiene. They can even be useful for people with herniated disks at the right pace and with correct precautions.

Of course, physical activity should always be practiced properly, considering the age, health status, and condition of individuals, and preferably under the supervision of a professional. You should take basic precautions to avoid injury. Remember that if you feel discomfort, pain, or exhaustion, then something isn’t right, and it’s best to stop.

It might interest you...
Find Out How to Stretch Your Spine in Just 2 Minutes
Step To Health
Read it in Step To Health
Find Out How to Stretch Your Spine in Just 2 Minutes

To avoid having problems in the long term try to stretch your spine frequently. You will achieve greater flexibility and better overall performance



  • Anderson B. Estirándose. Guía completa de estiramientos. Barcelona: RBA, 2017
  • Geoffroy C. Tener una espalda sana. Barcelona: Ed. Paidotribo, 2011.
  • Grabbe D. Una espalda sana rápido. Barcelona: Hispano Europea, 2017.
  • Guevara-López  U, Covarrubias-Gómez A, Elías-Dib J, Reyes-Sánchez A, Rodríguez-Reyna T. Parámetros de práctica para el manejo del dolor de espalda baja. Cir Cir; 2011, 79: 286-302.
  • Kempf HD, Schmelcher F, Ziegler C. Libro de entrenamiento para la espalda. Un programa garantizado para vencer. Barcelona: Ed. Paidotribo, 2007.
  • Marcano L. Prevención del dolor de espalda en el ámbito laboral. Rev. enferm. CyL; 2013, 5(2). 43-58.
  • Sagrera J. Espalda sana y sin dolor. Barcelona: Integral, 2018.