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Back exercises Exercises to help your back

Strengthening and stretching the muscles of your lower back will help prevent lower back strain. The following exercises progress from gentle to strenuous. Do only what's comfortable for you; stop exercising the moment you feel pain. If you've had back problems, consult your doctor before starting.

Pelvic tilt

Lie on your back with both of your knees bent. Keeping your spine against the floor, squeeze your buttock muscles as hard as you can, pull your stomach muscles in, flatten the small of your back to the floor, and hold for 5 seconds. Your pelvis will tilt slightly upwards of its own accord; don't try to raise it. Repeat 10 times.

Cat stretch

Get down on your hands and knees. Then arch your upper back upwards, contract your stomach muscles, and let your head drop. Hold for 5 seconds. Follow this by raising your head and reversing the action, until you return to the starting position. Avoid pushing your pelvis forward to create a swayback. Repeat 10 times.

Hip roll

Lie on your back, both arms out for support. Raise your knees towards your chest and, keeping them together, roll them gently from side to side, keeping your shoulders on the floor if you can. Roll 10 to 20 times.

Backward leg raises

Lie flat on your stomach, resting your head on folded arms. Keeping your hips flat on the floor, slowly raise one leg from the hip until your foot is 6 inches above the floor. Repeat 10 times with each leg.

Single leg raises

Lie on your back, knees bent, and place both hands under the lower part of your back. Press your back into your hands, then straighten one leg and slowly raise it to the height of your bent knee. Hold in that position for 5 seconds, then slowly lower the leg to the floor. Repeat 5 to 10 times with each leg. While doing this, your lower back must always be pushing down against your hands.

Diagonal reach

Start on your hands and knees. Slowly reach your right arm out in front of you; at the same time, reach your left leg straight out behind you. Stretch and hold for 5 seconds; then return to your original position. Then stretch your left arm and right leg. Repeat 10 times.

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