Exercises to improve the mobility of your back

by Jonathan Cook

Exercises to improve the mobility of your back  image

If you experience an increase or change in your symptoms whilst you are performing the exercises, stop the exercise and consult your therapist. 

Top tips when completing the exercises: 

  • Move slowly and smoothly, without sudden jerky movements 

  • Try and work equally in both directions when performing the movement exercises, spending a little more time exercising towards the stiffer side 

  • The exercises should not cause severe pain, however, some discomfort is acceptable and not harmful 

The exercises will be prescribed illustrating the number of repetitions, the number of sets of the exercise and the frequency as follows: 

REPS. – Number of repetitions or exercises in a set 

SETS – Number of times set is performed 

FREQ. – Number of times a day 

The following exercises are to improve the flexibility and control of the middle and lower back. Where possible, perform each exercise on the floor or an exercise mat. 

1) ‘Knees to Chest’ 

Aim: To mobilise the lumbar spine. 

‘Knees to Chest’ - Back Exercise 

Lying on your back with your knees bent up towards you, pull back both knees gently towards your chest. Hold for 10 – 15 seconds. 

2) ‘Knees to Shoulders’ 

Aim: To mobilise pelvis. 

‘Knees to Shoulders’ - Back Exercise 

Lying on your back pull the left knee gently towards the right shoulder. Hold for 10 seconds and then place the left leg back on the floor.  Repeat with the right leg. 

3) ‘Lower Back Twists’ 

Aim: To mobilise the lower back. 

‘Lower Back Twists’ - Back Exercise 

Lying on your back with your knees together and bent.  Slowly roll your knees from side to side keeping your upper back still. Repeat this exercise in both directions. 

4) ‘Angry Cat /Happy Cat’ 

Aim: To improve the mobility of the lower back and middle back. 

‘Angry Cat /Happy Cat’  - Back Exercise

Position yourself on your hands and knees in the crawling position. Slowly arch your spine upwards while letting your  head relax between your arms. (10 seconds upwards) Next, slowly hollow your back downwards towards the floor (10 seconds downwards). Keep your neck long and elbows straight. Repeat this exercise in both directions. 

5) ‘Middle Back Twists’ 

Aim: To mobilise the mid and low back

‘Middle Back Twists’  - Back Exercises

Sit on a chair and cross your arms over your chest. Slowly twist your body round to the left and let your eyes follow the movement. Return to the start position and repeat to the right side. It should take 10 seconds to left and 10 seconds to the right. 

6) ‘Stacking’ 

Aim: To mobilise the entire spine.

‘Stacking’  - Back Exercises

Start by sitting on a chair or stool with your legs apart and your back straight. Slowly bend forwards and reach to the floor. Try to start by moving the head, then the shoulders and middle back and finally the lower back and hips.  Now, return to the starting position, starting by gently moving with your hips and lower back, then your middle back and shoulders and finally your head. 

7) ‘Lower Back Extension’ 

Aim: To improve lower back mobility. 

‘Lower Back Extension’  - Back Exercises

Lying face down with both your hands at shoulder height.  Place your arms out to the side with your palms face down on the floor. Straighten your elbows and lift your upper back as far up as you can (10 seconds.) Keep your pelvis and legs relaxed. Slowly return to the starting position. 

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