Kelley Southard - December 30, 2022

Back Strengthening Exercises

Superman knew these simple back exercises for core strength

Superman back and hip strengthening exercises:

These exercises are a great compliment to McKenzie extension exercises when combating sciatica.

Lie on your belly on the floor or bed (with your feet hanging off the end of the bed for a neutral hip.)
You can do this on the floor if getting on the floor isn’t too difficult.

Lie on belly

Level 1

  • Lift one straight leg up 5x, then the other leg
  • Lift one arm overhead 5x, then other

Level 2

  • Lift one straight arm & opposite straight leg up 5x
  • Lift other straight arm & opposite straight leg up 5x

Level 3

  • Lift both straight arms up at the same time 5x
  • Lift both straight legs up at the same time 5x
  • Lift both straight arms and then both straight legs 5x

So much of our culture uses a forward trunk posture. We hunch our backs over the steering wheel, slouch our shoulders forward while using the computer, and even drop our heads and necks when reading our phones. All of this curling forward can lead to headaches, neck pain, numbness and tingling into fingers as well as chronic back and sciatica pain. Improving poor posture can be the most basic of all strategies. While our mother’s advise whispers “Pull your shoulders back,” go a step further and strengthen the muscles of your back, shoulders and neck with the exercises above.

Kids lie on their belly all the time. Babies are encouraged to have “Tummy Time.” As adults we get out of the habit of being on our bellies. Simply lying on your belly promotes a reversal of chronic forward postures and extension of the lumbar spine. If lying on the floor is too daunting, because you are not confident you’ll rise up off the floor, these should be done on a firm mattress.

Propping up on elbows is an effective position seen in BetterMeBLOGS:

Next, strengthen the back, shoulders and neck muscles by lifting each arm and/or leg. This lift requires you to lift the weight of that limb against gravity. As you progress through Level 1 with a single limb lift, gradually build core strength towards Level 2 with a simultaneous opposite arm and leg lift. This lift increases the demand and strength of your back, shoulders and neck muscles. Level 3 demands both arms AND legs being lifted at the same time, just like Superman.

Besides core strength, this is a great hip and buttock strengthening exercise.

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