People affected by osteoporosis face a heightened risk for small compression fractures in the spine. But you may be able to lower your risk of sustaining them. A study by the Mayo Clinic has shown that people who regularly strengthen their back extensor muscles experience significantly less osteoporosis-related fractures than people who don’t.1 Here are 3 exercises to help you strengthen these muscles and manage your osteoporosis:
Beginner back extension exercise
This exercise calls for you to bend your spine backward.
- Lie flat on your stomach with your forearms on the ground next to you, tucked in close to your sides.
- Raise your chest off the ground while keeping your hips, legs, and feet relaxed and in contact with the ground. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds before gently lowering yourself back to the ground.
- Work gradually up to 30 seconds per repetition.
Aim to complete 10 repetitions.
Intermediate back extension exercise
Here’s a slightly more advanced form of the previous press-up exercise:
- Lie face down on your stomach and place your hands on the ground next to you, about level with the bottom of your ribcage (push-up position).
- Push through your arms, straightening your elbows. Lift the top half of your body off the ground while your lower body remains pressed against the ground.
- Arch or sag your back and try to relax your lower body.
This position is typically held for 1 to 2 seconds and repeated 10 times.
Advanced back extension exercise
Here’s an advanced extension exercise that targets your upper back muscles:
- Lie face down on your stomach with a pillow tucked under your hips.
- Extend your arms back. You may want to clasp together your hands behind your lower back.
- Raise your head and chest off the ground.
- Hold this position for 5 seconds while looking at the ground.
- Gradually work up to 20 seconds at a time. Aim to complete 8 to 10 repetitions of this exercise.
One modification of this exercise instructs you to lift your legs off the ground as well. A doctor or physical therapist can help you find the variation that works best for you.
These exercises may not only help to increase your bone mass but also strengthen your muscles, which can better protect you from a fall or other trauma. It is recommended you perform these exercises with the guidance of a health care provider.
- Sinaki M, Itoi E, Wahner H, et al. Stronger back muscles reduce the incidence of vertebral fractures: a prospective 10 year follow-up of postmenopausal women. Bone. 2002;30(6):836-841. doi:10.1016/s8756-3282(02)00739-1.