The importance of back exercise

Many of us do not give a second thought to lifting a heavy box, office equipment or carrying around loaded shopping bags in the mall, not realising the strain we place on our backs. Recent statistics show that 80% of all people will suffer from back pain at some stage of their lives.

Ceri Hannan, National Group Exercise Manager for Virgin Active says although one cannot completely avoid it, strengthening your back muscles associated muscles with regular exercise is a great start. 

"Active back exercises, when done in a controlled and progressive manner, distribute nutrients into the disc space and soft tissues to keep the back healthy.  Regular lower back exercises helps to avoid stiffness, weakness and reduces lower back pain.”

Hannan also advises that recurring back pain if left untreated could spell something more serious.  “Acute back pain generally last from a few days to a few weeks, but if you do not seek medical help, this could pose a danger to your health.”

Chronic back pain is generally defined as pain that persists for more than three months, and may be progressive or occasional. The exact cause of this condition is sometimes very difficult to be determined. She recommends the following exercises to strengthen your back muscles and help with moving around more freely: 

Alternate arm and leg

Begin on all fours, knees hip-width apart, hands flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart. Contract your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly towards your spine. Keep the spine in a neutral position, but do not arch or hollow the back. Extend your right leg back and your left arm straight ahead, do not rotate the hips. Hold for two to three seconds.

Repeat five to six times on each side.


With your abdominal muscles gently contracted and hands on hips, take a big step forward with your right foot. Bend down so that your right knee is at a 90-degree angle and then push back to the starting position without pausing.

Repeat eight to 12 times, switching legs and repeat.

Side Plank

Lie on your side, in a straight line from head to feet, resting on your forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder. With your abdominal muscles contracted, lift your hips off the floor, maintaining the line. Keep your neck in line with your spine. Hold this position for 20 to 40 seconds and lower.

Repeat two to three times, alternating sides.  

For more information on Virgin Active’s offerings of more on back exercises visit or call 0860 200 911.

 (Health24, September 2011)

Read more:

How to prevent backache
Good posture for a healthy spine

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