Back stretches video

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  • NHS Physiotherapist Stuart Taylor gives you his best exercises for keeping your back healthy.

    Stuart says: ‘One of the problems we have in society today is that we’re too sedentary – we don’t move enough – so it’s important that you get into a habit of moving.

    ‘You can do specific exercises or some general movements of your spine, like backwards, to the sid and twisting round either side.

    ‘Just get into a regime of movement. Here are a number of exercises that will help promote a healthy back.’

    The kneeling stretch exercise

    ‘The kneeling stretch exercise is quite good as a warm-up exercise because it introduces nice gentle movement to the spine before you start getting into the more stretchy exercises.

    • Start on your hands and knees.
    • Bring your knees back underneath your hips. This is the starting position.
    • Keep your hands still.
    • Sit back on your heels. When you get to that point, drop your head down so you get that stretch through your spine, and then come back to the starting position.
    • Repeat 5 times.
    • Then go back onto your heels and drop your head down. Come back up, lift your head up. It’s a nice relaxed movement to loosen up your back.
    • Repeat 5 times.
    • The back extension exercise is great because we don’t introduce that movement into our lifestyle on a daily basis, so it’s good to give you that change of posture and change of movement.
    • Next, let your hips stay flat on the bed.
    • Push on your hands and lift your head and shoulders off the bed.
    • Arch your back and straighten your elbows so that you feel that stretch in the lower part of your back.
    • And then down.
    • Repeat 5 times.

    The knees-to-the-chest exercise

    ‘The knees to the chest exercise is good for stretching out the back into that ‘bent flex’ position to stretch the ligaments and the muscles.

    • Bend your knees up so your feet are flat on the bed.
    • Bring your knees towards your chest and get your hands below your knees.
    • Squeeze your knees into your chest so you roll your hips off the floor so you feel that stretch in the lower part of your back.
    • Hold that for the count of 5.
    • And then release.
    • Repeat 5 times.
    • Get your hands on your knees, squeeze your knees into your chest so you roll your hips off the floor.
    • Take yourself to the point where you feel that stretch and discomfort in the lower part of your back and then down.

    The knee rotation exercise

    ‘The knee rotation exercise one is all about trying to introduce movement into the spine, the middle part of your back and lower part of your back.

    • Put your feet together, knees together.
    • Rest your hands on your chest.
    • Take your elbows and arms out to the side.
    • Keep your shoulders and arms flat on the bed.
    • Take your knees down to the left and then right.
    • Oscillate between the left and the right.
    • Produce that nice relaxed movement of your spine.
    • Repeat 5 times either side.

    The Superman exercise

    ‘The Superman exercise is all about toning up the muscles that are there to keep your spine stable. So you’re making yourself unstable to stimulate these stability muscles to work.

    • Take your leg out straight, backwards and upwards, but to the point where you’re keeping your pelvis still.
    • Now do the same with your right arm. By doing that you are slightly unstable and your muscles are having to work to maintain stability.
    • You hold that position for 6 seconds and then relax.
    • Then change sides, so using your right leg and then left arm. Again, make sure that you’re keeping your spine still and flat.
    • Count to 6.
    • Do that 5 times on either side.
    • The bridging exercise is all about toning up muscles of the lower spine, the hips and the pelvis so that you create that stability again by using instability.
    • Lift your hips off the bed to the point where you get your hips in line with your knees.
    • Maintain that position.

    ‘With these exercises you may see that you’re slightly trembling because you’re having to make the muscles work to maintain that control of your pelvis and hips.

    ‘It’s important that you get into a regime of exercise. That can be anything from swimming, yoga, cycling or Pilates – just exercise.’

    Where to next 

    Back pain advice video  

    Protect your back 

    Relieving back pain 

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