Exercises to strengthen your back + prevent pain

Posted on Posted in Workouts

This story was originally written for ABC News Online.

Almost four million Aussies suffer from back pain at any one time.

The list of reasons you might experience it is long and includes injuries, genetics and diseases like arthritis and cancer. But your day-to-day behaviour can also have a big influence on how your back feels.

Most of us spend our lives sitting down with poor posture and if you're overweight, that's adding even more pressure on your spine.

I spend a lot of my life as a trainer trying to fix issues that cause back pain.

If it's the bane of your life, this gentle workout can help by strengthening key muscles that support good posture: your shoulders and glutes.

The spinal warm-up will decrease stiffness by mobilising your spine, plus help you to create a little more mind/body awareness.

Note that if you already have back pain, you should consider seeing a health professional. Depending on the reason for the pain, some types of exercise may make your problem worse.

Warm-up: Cat Cow

Spend 60 seconds or so slowly moving from cat to cow. Focus on how your spine works and try to articulate each vertebra as you move.

A1 Low-cable abductions


This exercise works the abductors — the muscles around your hip and glutes — which can sometimes be implicated in lower back pain.

A2 Banded hip extensions

The hip extension strengthens your glutes and helps you activate your midsection.

Perform three sets of 12-15 of each A1 and A2 exercise before moving to the exercises below.

For example: do 12-15 reps of a low-cable abduction on each leg, then do 12-15 reps of the supine banded hip extension. Rest for 30 seconds, then repeat twice more.

B1 Prone thoracic extensions + reaches

The extension-to-reach movement helps with posture by strengthening your often-forgotten upper-back muscles.

B2 Seated row


The seated row is great for strengthening the muscles in your back, as well as your biceps.

Just like the A set of exercises, perform three sets of 12-15 of each exercise. Rest for 30 seconds then perform twice more.

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