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Easy Do-Anywhere Exercises to Strengthen Your Back, Says Surgeon

Suffering from back pain? Try these four expert-backed moves.

Even in eras not plagued by global pandemics, some form of back pain is the among the top reasons that Americans seek out health care. In fact, the NIH has reported that "one-quarter of adults have at least one day of lower back pain in a three-month period." Fast forward to today, when an untold number of people are working from home and suffering from "pandemic posture," those figures are no doubt way worse. If you're sitting for too long, it'll lead not only to a weak core and tight hip flexors and hamstrings, but also puts too much stress on your lower back.

If you want to fight back, you need an overall core-strengthening program will address the hips, midsection, and shoulders, which will go a long way toward minimizing back problems. To help you get started, however, here are a few basic moves, courtesy of orthopedic surgeon Ellis Friedman, M.D., author of Outwitting Back Pain: Why Your Lower Back Hurts and How to Make It Stop. You can repeat each exercise 20 to 30 times, up to four times a day. And for more ways to strengthen your core, don't miss The Secret Exercise Trick for a Much Stronger Core.


Sitting Flexion

drawing of woman doing back stretch in chair

Sit on a firm chair with your legs apart and your hands resting on your knees. Bend forward slowly at the waist and touch the floor. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds; then slowly return to the starting position. And for more great exercise advice, see here for the Secret Exercise Tricks for Keeping Your Weight Down for Good.


Prone Extension

drawing of a man doing a prone stretch

Lie facedown on the floor with your elbows bent and hands next to your shoulders. Push up and slowly straighten your elbows, looking straight ahead. Keep your pelvis and legs relaxed and hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds.


Supine Flexion

Side view of a slender young woman in supine wind release posture on yoga mat at fitness studio

Lie on your back on the floor, hands at your sides and knees bent. Pull your knees to your chest as far as possible, keeping your knees bent and head on the floor. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds; then slowly return to the resting position.


Standing Extension

Warming up outdoors in the autumn, hands on the hips, back ache position. Concept photo, closeup

Stand with your feet slightly apart. Place your hands at the small of your back, fingers pointing toward each other. Bend back slowly; hold for 3 seconds. Slowly return to the resting position. And for more great exercise advice, see here for the 20-Minute Walking Workout That Can Help You Lose Weight.

William Mayle
William Mayle is a UK-based writer who specializes in science, health, fitness, and other lifestyle topics. Read more
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