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

Therapist showing prone combination exercise.

Prone arm/leg raises enhance spinal stability and support posture by engaging multiple muscle groups.

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
  • 5 repetitions; change to work reverse pair

Arm/Leg Raises 

Therapist showing arm/leg raises exercise.

Arm and leg raises exercise improves core strength, and enhances balance.

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
  • Hold 5 seconds; slowly return to starting position
  • 3-5 repetitions on each side
  • To work alternate pairs of limbs, raising the right arm and left leg at the same time
  • Hold position for 5 seconds
  • 3-5 repetitions; change to work reverse pair

Cat Curl

Therapist showing cat curls.

Cat curl stretches improve spinal mobility and alleviate back discomfort.

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.

Dr. Thomas Hyde is a chiropractor who retired with more than 30 years of experience treating spine pain and soft tissue disorders in athletes and active patients.

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