prone arm/leg raise exercise
Figure 5
(larger view)

arm raise exercise
Figure 15
(larger view)

arm/leg raise exercise
Figure 16
(larger view)

exercise ball extension
Figure 4
(larger view)

Like stomach exercises, back exercises can be done on a mat and in water, and can incorporate different types of equipment, such as an exercise ball.

Prone Arm/Leg Raises - Lie on stomach keeping neck in line with straight legs, and arms outstretched overhead.

  • Slowly raise and lower each arm and leg, one at a time
  • 5 repetitions on each limb
  • Work alternate limbs by lifting right arm and left leg at the same time (See Figure 5)
  • 5 repetitions; change to work reverse pair

Arm/Leg Raises - This exercise is similar to the prone arm/leg raises, except done with hands and knees on the floor, with hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips.

  • To work arms, slowly straighten the right arm, reaching forward and keeping neck and back straight,
  • Hold 5 seconds; slowly lower arm to starting position
  • 3-5 repetitions on each side
  • To work legs, slowly straighten leg without arching back, extending the leg behind the body (See Figure 15)
  • Hold 5 seconds; slowly return to starting position
  • 3-5 repetitions on each side
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  • To work alternate pairs of limbs, raising the right arm and left leg at the same time (See Figure 16)
  • Hold position for 5 seconds
  • 3-5 repetitions; change to work reverse pair

Cat Curls - Get down on all-fours with knees and hands on the floor with back and neck in a neutral, straight position

  • Slowly tighten lower abdominals, rounding the back towards the ceiling
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Release and return to neutral position
  • Arch the back slightly
  • Hold for 5 seconds
  • Release and return to neutral position

Water Exercise/Knee-to-Chest - Stand with right hand holding on to side of pool

  • Raise left knee slowly to 90 degree angle
  • Grab behind left knee with left hand and slowly bring knee up into chest
  • Hold 5 seconds
  • 3-5 repetitions per side
  • See Water Therapy Exercise Program

Exercise Ball/Back Extensions - Lay over the exercise ball on stomach with legs straight and feet flexed to be up on toes; rest hands on side of ball, but do not use arms to push up

To make this exercise more difficult, place hands behind head before lifting head and chest off ball.

Over time, performing these abdominal exercises and back exercises consistently can have enormous benefits. When incorporated as part of a daily exercise routine they can yield a lifetime benefit of improved posture and a healthier spine.

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