About 80% of Americans will experience some form of back pain at one time in their lives. The back is composed of the spine and large muscle groups that are essential for movement and overall body posture.

Physical injuries are the leading causes of back pains and weakened backs. The choice of lifestyle may also contribute to back related issues ranging from neck pain to lower back pain.

The most effective way to maintain a healthy back is through physical exercises. Below is a brief description of three back strengthening exercises that everyone should try.

1. Bridge

To perform this exercise, begin by laying on your back with your feet flat on the floor, creating a 45-degree angle around the knees. Keep your arms flat on the ground on either side with the palms facing down.

Tighten your core and lift your hips to create a straight line between the knees and shoulders. Hold the pose for five seconds, then relax and lower your hips back to the ground.

If this is too challenging, spread out your arms straight out to the sides to provide more stability. For a more challenging technique, bring both arms across the chest and repeat the hip lifts.

Maintain the posture by avoiding rotation of the hips and shoulders. Do at least three sets of the exercise, each with between ten and fifteen repetitions.  

The bridge exercise engages and strengthens the lower back muscles, including the gluteus maximus.

2. Planks

Planks are some of the most basic core and back strengthening exercises. They can be modified to suit different individuals with varying demands.

The basic plank begins with laying on the ground as though you were doing a push-up. Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle and rest your weight on the forearms. Keep the stomach lifted and the back and legs straight. The body should be parallel to the ground.

Hold this pose for a few seconds and repeat a couple of times, successively increasing the duration.

A less demanding variation of the plank is the front plank. With a front plank, you rest your body’s weight on your palms with the arms stretched out, instead of the forearm.

Another variation of this exercise is the side plank. Here, you rest your body weight on one forearm with the elbow bent while facing sideways. Your other arm should be holding your hip.  

3. Knee to Elbow Lifts

A knee to elbow lift exercise is another excellent core strengthening exercise.  Begin in a plank position with your body parallel to the ground and resting on your forearms.  Lift your right leg off the ground and bring its knee close to the right elbow, hold for a few seconds and repeat with the left side.

After some practice, you might be able to touch the elbow with your knee. Try lifting each knee towards the opposite elbow for a more challenging exercise.

Learn more about back exercises in this post.

Be Careful with Back Strengthening Exercises

Know your limits with every exercise routine. Although back strengthening exercises are a great way to relieve back pain and recover from back injuries, if not done carefully, they could cause more harm than good.

Start slow and don’t be discouraged if you are not progressing quickly. Your body may need some time to grow its back and core strength. Take caution not to push beyond your limits.