Alex Simotas, MD

Hospital for Special Surgery
Board Certified Physiatrist
Specializing In Spine & Sports Medicine

Home > Wellness & Exercise > Exercise Groups > Spine Flexibility

Spine Flexibility

All flexibility exercises should be preceded by a warm up first. The surface should be flat and firm. For comfort a thin pad or folded blanket may be placed on the hard surface. There should be a conscious effort to relax the muscles being stretched. Breathe normally but try to feel a relaxation or melting occur in the stretched muscle during your exhalation. Stretching should be gradual and sufficient to cause mild discomfort but not pain. Return the part slowly from the stretched position. A general rule for time is 3-4 repetitions for 15-20 seconds each. Each progressive stretch should feel slightly easier. Time may be shorter or longer depending on the joint muscle or the amount of tightness in that muscle.

Exercise 1: Back Flexion

  1. Stand with feet slightly apart
  2. Bend forward trying to touch toes
  3. Hold for 10 seconds
  4. Do 3 repetitions 1-2 times per day

Exercise 2: Back Flexion

  1. Place your ______________ foot on chair
  2. Bend forward from the waist one vertebra at a time
  3. Hold for 10 seconds
  4. Do 3 repetitions 1-2 times per day

Exercise 3: Back Flexion

  1. Assume hand and knees position
  2. Bend knees to move buttocks towards heels
  3. Hold for 10 seconds
  4. Do 3 repetitions once a day

Exercise 4: Back Extension

  1. Assume position as shown
  2. Straighten arms to press trunk upward, exhale and let hips sag toward floor. Keep pelvis in close contact with the floor.
  3. Hold for 3 seconds
  4. Do 10 repetitions 1-2 times per day

Exercise 5: Back Extension

  1. Place hands firmly against hips as shown
  2. Bend backward until you feel a stretch
  3. Hold 5 -10 seconds
  4. Do 3 repetitions once a day

Exercise 6: Back Sidebending

  1. Lean to the ______________ until you feel a stretch, with arm overhead as shown
  2. Hold for 10 seconds
  3. Do 3- 5 repetitions once a day

Exercise 7: Back Rotation

  1. Lie on back with knees bent and feet together with arms out to the side
  2. Change the degree of bend at the hips to find the amount that is comfortable
  3. Use hand on opposite knee to assist stretch
  4. Rotate knee to the ___________ as you turn your head in the opposite direction until you feel a stretch contact with the floor.
  5. Hold 5 to 10 seconds
  6. Do 3 to 5 repetitions 1 -2 times per day

Exercise 8: Pelvic Rotation

  1. Assume the position shown with ____________ knee on the chair
  2. Bend the opposite knee until you feel a stretch
  3. Do not let your back to arch
  4. Hold for 30 seconds
  5. Do 2 repetitions 1-2 times per day