Spine Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening the muscles that hold the spine straight and upright is important. These muscles run up and down the back and sides of your spine. They are called your erector spinae muscles.

If you have osteoporosis, you need to remember an important rule when exercising or going about your daily activities: Do not flex or bend your spine forward. Backward bending or leaning back however reduces stress on the front of the spine. This is why you can do the following exercises safely.

Exercise #1: Neck Press Against Resistance

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  • Lie on back with pillow(s) under head to support in neutral position.
  • Push head down firmly to straighten and lengthen spine as shown.
  • Keep chin tucked and head facing upward.
  • Hold for a slow 5 count.
  • Relax for a couple of seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times or until neck muscles tire.
  • Do once in the morning and once in the evening every day—perhaps before getting up and going to bed at night.

Suggestions:

  • While doing these exercises tighten and relax muscles smoothly—don’t jerk or apply sudden forces.
  • This exercise may become easy after a while. If so, replace pillow(s) with a firm rolled towel. It should fit comfortably behind your upper neck and base of the head supporting your head in a comfortable neutral position.

Exercise #2: Strengthening Extensor Muscles

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  • Stand straight in good posture.
  • Place ball behind upper back.
  • Keep feet apart and away from wall for good balance.
  • Push hard with feet and legs to press back against ball.
  • Keep spine, hips and knees in the same position. Only the ankle joints pivot where shown by dot.
  • Hold for a slow 5 count and follow with a 2 second rest.
  • Repeat until you feel your leg or back muscles tire.
  • Slowly increase up to 15–20 repetitions.
  • Do once every day.

Pointer: As strength increases move feet further away from the wall to push harder. Remember don’t let your spine bend.

Exercise #3: Chest Raises from Prone

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This is a more advanced exercise. Not everyone will be able to do this one. If you can lie on your stomach without difficulty, you can safely try this one.

  • Lie on stomach on bed or floor.
  • Putting a pillow under stomach is optional and makes it easier to get on stomach and lift head.
  • Pinch shoulders back, smoothly lift head and chest and continue to look straight down.
  • Hold for a slow 5 count.
  • Rest for 2 seconds and repeat until tired.
  • Do once every day.

Suggestion: If you can get on your stomach but can’t lift your head up, keep trying it. You might eventually start getting your head and chest up, and then you’ll know your exercises are helping!

NOF thanks Richard Baldwin, P.T., for contributing to this article. Mr. Baldwin is owner and director of Downeast Rehabilitation Associates in Rockport, ME. He is the osteoporosis support group leader of the NOF Coastal Support Group and an NOF health professional member.

Related

Recovering from Falls

Even with your best efforts to protect your bones, it’s still possible to break a bone. People most often break bones in the spine, hip or wrist. Regardless of the bone you break, regaining strength and returning to daily activities takes time.

Posture Exercises

When a person develops kyphosis, the posture becomes stooped or hunched. The back also becomes stiff and difficult to straighten. Bending forward compresses (squeezes) the front of the spine, making it more likely to break a bone in the spine.

Are You at Risk?

There are a variety of factors that put you at risk for developing osteoporosis. Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors for osteoporosis and work together to develop a plan to protect your bones.