Back and Abdominal Muscle Exercises

04 December 2019

The back has many important jobs on a day to day basis, which takes the brunt of all the work the human body does. Because of this large work load, the back is susceptible to pains and discomfort quite easily. It is important to condition and strengthen your muscles in your body to help prevent back discomfort, specifically strengthening the back and abdominal muscles. As one ages, the muscles in the abdomen and back tend to weaken unless they are specifically exercised. By having strong back and abdominal muscles this can help to heal majority of back pains, especially if caused by a soft tissue injury or muscle strain.

Goals of Back and Abdominal Muscle Exercises

There is a wide variety of muscles that are encompassed in the back and abdomen, each can be grouped into a different set of muscles. The sets of muscles each have their own goals including:

  1. Extensors (back and gluteal muscles): These muscles are used to straighten the back (stand), lift and extend, and abduct the hip (moving the thigh away from the body)
  2. Flexors (abdominal and iliopsoas muscles): These muscles are used to bend and support the spine from the front. They also are used to control the arch of the lower part of the spin, and flex and adduct the hip (move the thigh toward the body)
  3. Oblique’s or Rotators (Para spinal muscles): These muscles are used to stabilize the spine when upright. They are also used to help maintain proper posture and spine curvature

Benefits of Back and Abdominal Muscle Exercises

There are many benefits which occur when one performs exercises on the back and abdominal muscles, including:

- Reducing the chances of having back pain episodes

- Reducing the severity of back pain

- Protecting against injury by being able to respond efficiently to stresses

- Helps to avoid back surgery in some cases

- Promote healing from a back issue or after spine surgery

- Improves posture


It is important to have a regular regimen of exercising the back and abdominal muscles. In order to gain the benefits of these exercises they should be done daily. Thankfully because time is a precious thing during these busy days, they only take about 10 to 20 minutes to complete. When you do not have an exacerbation of back pain is a great time to begin an exercise routine. If you are in an acute back pain episode for the first time, this would not be a good time to start the exercise routine as you should seek input from a healthcare provider regarding the pain first. If you feel as though the exercising helps your back pain, do not stop doing the exercises even when the pain subsides, continue to perform them or even add in new exercises. It is imperative to make sure to be patient with the results of the exercising, as it can take six weeks or more to see benefits from them.

Abdominal Exercises

Pelvic Tilt

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet parallel and your arms to the side
  • Tighten your lower abdominal muscles, pulling the naval and lower back toward the floor, without using your buttocks or leg muscles
  • Hold for five seconds for 5-10 repetitions

Trunk Curl

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent and arms crossed on your chest
  • Using your upper abdominal muscles, raise the truck of your body off the floor slightly about 15 degrees
  • Hold for five seconds then lower your trunk slowly to the floor
  • Make sure not to lift too far up to a sitting position because this then works the leg muscles not your abdominal muscles

Back Muscles

- Prone Arm/Leg Raises

  • Lie on your stomach keeping your neck in line with straight legs, and arms outstretched and overhead
  • Slowly raise and lower each arm and leg, one at a time
  • Five repetitions on each limb
  • Work alternate limbs by lifting the right arm and left leg at the same time

Cat Curls

  • Get down on all-fours with your knees and hands on the floor with your back and neck in a neutral, straight position
  • Slowly tighten your lower abdominals, rounding your back towards the ceiling -> Hold this position for five seconds, then release and return to neutral position
  • Arch your back slightly -> Hold this position for five seconds, then release and return to neutral position

Many people have a sedentary job, which includes sitting for long periods of time ultimately which results in back discomfort. For the sedentary jobs, obtaining a desk bike would certainly also be beneficial in helping back pain and/or also help strengthen muscles which help to keep your spinal structures healthy. Having a desk bike is a great low impact workout which does not put too much stress on the back. When using a bike, it helps you to maintain good control your abdominal and back muscles when in an upright position. You can tighten your abdominal muscles while using the bike to help strengthen your abdominal muscles in the meantime. A desk bike can be obtained through FlexiSpot – where they have two different options including a bike that includes a desk or a bike that goes underneath your desk. These desk bikes are adjustable to make them appropriate for you in your workstation. Remaining active whenever possible is the best thing that can be done for your back.