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Back Extension Exercise – the Key to a Strong Spine

Spine extension, also known as back extension, involves moving the spine in a backward position. 2009 research in Osteoporosis International, notes that, “kyphosis increases with age in healthy women. The greatest difference in the angle of kyphosis was observed between the fifth and sixth decade.” Exercises, which strengthen the extensor muscles of the spine, can delay the progression of hyper-kyphosis in women over 50 years of age. Kyphosis, according to, is an exaggerated, forward rounding of the back. It can occur at any age but is most common in older women.

Here is a three-step progression of spinal extension, strengthening exercises – performed in a neutral, stable position. Each exercise progressively gets more advanced – using a stability / mobility philosophy – one body segment stabilizes, while another mobilizes action.

Exercise #1– Assume a prone plank position with arms bent at 90-degrees -with hands coming in – grasping together with palms facing in. While the spine erectors are stabilizing the spine, perform 10-20 scapula retractions – pulling the shoulder blades backward and forward.

Exercise #2 – Assuming the same position as #1, spread the hands apart, so there is a wider base of support. Alternate lifting one arm into full extension by rolling to one side then extending the other arm. Lower in the same fashion 5-10 times – with each arm extension counting as one repetition.

Exercise #3 – Assume an elevated – arms extended, palms on floor – plank position. While holding this position, alternate lifting the right hand and left leg simultaneously a few inches above parallel to the ground. Try 4-6 lifts.

Remember, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutritional supplementation program.

Mackie and April share exercises every Wednesday on WWL-TV