1145 S.W. 74th Street, Building I
Suite 100
Oklahoma City, OK 73139

Phone: (405) 632-1783
Fax: (405) 631-0508


Maintaining a regular exercise program is one of the most important elements of preventing future back and neck problems.  Strengthening the abdominal muscles will in turn strengthen the back, which will help to avoid stress on the back. For a person with a healthy back, cardiovascular exercise such as running, weight lifting, crunches, swimming, aerobics, and other high endurance activities are suggested. Not only will these activities increase the strength of your back, heart, lungs, muscle tone, and overall health, but they are also proven to increase your self-esteem.

General Rules For An Exercise Program

  • Always do each exercise slowly, holding each position for a slow five second count.

  • Remember to breathe and relax during each repetition. Start with 5 repetitions and gradually work your way to 10.

  • Continue the exercises for at least 10 minutes twice a day.

  • Do not continue doing an exercise if it is painful.

  • Stay with your exercise plan!!! Do it everyday without exception!!!

Floor Exercises

Pelvic Tilt 
Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Tighten your buttocks and pull your stomach muscles in slightly. Press your low back firmly against the floor as far as you can without pain. Keep your shoulders relaxed and remember to breath normally throughout the exercise, this will correct the arching of the back. 

Modified Sit-Ups
Begin as you did for the pelvic tilt. Start with your arms by your side. Next lift your head as though you are trying to have your chin touch your chest. Then lift your shoulders off the floor as you extend both hands forward toward your knees. Gently touch your knees with your fingers, and then slowly lower your shoulders back to the floor. Keep your chin tucked in, while lowering your shoulders. Next lower your head slowly back to the floor. Then relax both arms, take a deep breath, and prepare to repeat the exercise. Make sure that you do not arch your back during any part of this exercise.

Double Knee to Chest or Low Back Stretch
Begin this exercise the same as the pelvic tilt. Then bring both of your knees to your chest, one at a time. Give your knees a hug and gently pull them toward you until you begin to feel a mild stretch in your lower back. Release your legs and slowly lower them one at a time to the starting position. Once again be sure to not arch your back during any part of this exercise. 

Seat Lifts

Begin this exercise in the same position as the pelvic tilt. Lift your buttocks up off the floor, very slowly, only lifting a little at a time. Remember to keep your low back flat. Slowly lower your body back to the floor, allowing your low back to touch the floor first and then your seat. Like always do not arch your back during any part of this exercise. 

Mountain and Sag Knee to Elbow
This time begin this exercise on your hands and knees. Form a position of a "mountain" with your back by rounding your back upward (like an angry cat). Then allow your back to sag, do this slowly and carefully imagine an old tired horse. Repeat this exercise slowly 5 to 10 times. Next bring one of your knees to your elbow, then straighten your leg out holding it behind you. Be sure to watch the alignment of your body by watching underneath you trying not to lose sight of your toes. Next bring your knee back to your elbow and then return it to the floor. Repeat these steps with the other leg until you have completed 5 to 10 repetitions. 

Hamstring Stretch
This particular exercise can be done while lying, standing, or sitting. For the lying position start the same as the pelvic tilt by lying flat on your back. Then bring one knee to your chest. Place both hands around your thigh, then stretch your heel up to the ceiling, which will extend your knee as far as possible. Gently pull your leg toward you until is vertical. Next dorsiflex your foot at the ankle which makes the sole of your foot parallel to the ceiling. This will increase the intensity of the stretch. Repeat these steps with the other leg. While lying on your back, put both hands under your buttocks. Slowly lift your legs over your head, remembering to relax them as your lifting. Once legs are in the air begin to flap or pedal with your feet. 

For the standing position, you would gently place one leg on a table or back of a sturdy chair. Then you would bend the leg you are standing on until you feel a mild stretch under your thigh. Hold this stretch for 5 to 10 seconds. Then repeat with the other leg.
Another hamstring stretch to do while standing is placing one leg on a low platform or stool. Dorsiflex this foot at the ankle. Your knee of the leg that you are standing on should be slightly bent. Next slowly bend from the hips towards the leg on the stool until you feel a mild stretch under your thigh. Repeat with the other leg.


While in the seated position the hamstring stretch can be done by placing one leg bent at the knee toward your body, and the other leg out almost straight. Then lean forward toward the bent leg until you feel a mild stretch under the other thigh. Switch legs and repeat the exercise. 


Swimming Exercises

For patients with back pain swimming in warm water can provide terrific therapeutic benefits. Although diving is inadvisable, repeating exercises up to 10 times per session is recommended and will help to strengthen the muscles of the back. Discontinue any exercise that is causing pain. 

  • Keeping your back against the wall of the pool, bring your knees to your chest and rotate to right and then to the left. 
  • Slowly bring your knees to your chest, then straighten your legs keeping them at a right angle to your body. Next spread your legs apart, then bring them back together. 
  • Repeat the steps as in exercise two, but instead of bringing your legs back together, cross them like a pair of scissors. 
  • Stand up straight with your back against the wall, then raise one leg straight in front of you. Pull that leg back down, and repeat with the other.
  • Keep your back straight against the wall, and raise your knee up to hip level. Allow your knee to bend, then straighten your leg. Repeat this exercise with your other leg. 
  • Turn your body, so that your side is against the wall. Kick your outside leg up in front, and to the back, then to your side and back down. Turn so that your other side is now against the wall, and repeat with other leg. 
  • This time face the wall and kick one leg out behind you, while keeping the other leg straight. Repeat this exercise with your other leg.
  • Once again with your back to the wall, move your feet and legs as though you were riding a bicycle.
  • Remembering to keep your back against the wall, make a huge circle with one leg. Be sure that your foot touches the surface of the water, as well as the bottom of the pool. Then reverse your direction of the circle and repeat with the same leg. Next switch legs and repeat exercise. 
  • Facing a bar (if provided) place both feet on it, and bend and straighten your knees.

Aerobic Exercises

Movement is wonderful therapy for the back! Patients who are physically fit tend to have less frequent and shorter periods of pain. Having a healthy heart and lungs will help in the process of getting you back to all your activities of daily living. Being fit will provide the energy needed to use your muscles and spine correctly. When choosing an aerobic exercise pick one that you can comfortably do for a period of 15 minutes or more uninterrupted. Do not over-do-it, gradually increase your time and activity level. Regular exercise is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy back! 

General Rules for Safe Aerobic Exercises

  • Exercise at least three times a week with one day of rest in between each session.
  • Begin slowly when starting a new program and progress gradually. 
  • Use proper technique with each exercise. Poor technique can bring on back pain. 
  • Remember the rules for good posture while exercising!
  • Work at your own speed and current ability. Avoid being competitive. 
  • A 5 to 10 minute warm up is invaluable to the prevention of back pain during exercise. Cooling down in the same manner after exercise is also a great preventive measure.
  • Try to avoid fatigue. Stop and rest when you begin to feel tired. 


Keep your pace regular during activity. Start slowly then progress your way to walking about 1 mile in 15 minutes or less. 


Water supports your body weight and takes the weight off your low back! Swimming is considered one of the safest aerobic exercises for patients with back pain.


You can use either a stationary bike or a regular bike to achieve aerobic activity while cycling. Adjust the seat and the handlebars so that you can sit nearly upright and pelvic tilt. You should be able to reach the lower pedal with your leg extended and your knee slightly bent. 

Nonimpact aerobics

These classes are designed for those with back problems, and they vary in intensity.

Relaxation Exercises

The frustrations of daily living can cause an increase of stress and tension in the body. By the time stress has built up enough tension in your body to cause pain it is considered severe. Tension in the body can be felt in various ways: headaches, back pain, fatigue, or other symptoms. Primarily tension is felt by the tightness of the muscles in the neck, top of the shoulders, shoulder blades, and deep lower back. When these muscles are tight we cannot move correctly, which causes the muscles to become very painful. One way you can combat the onset of this type of pain is to recognize when it starts and learn to relax the muscles before the onset of pain. It is also important to practice relaxing on a regular basis. Following is a few simple steps to help you relax. 

  • Try each day to set aside 15 to 20 minutes of uninterrupted time, away from distractions such as phones, televisions, and other noise. Lie in a resting position with your hips and knees flexed, or sit with your knees higher than your hips. 
  • Relax your eyes by closing them or focusing on a spot on the ceiling or wall. Clear your mind.
  • Concentrate on your breathing by noticing how smooth and regular it is. Your stomach should rise and fall with each breath. Take one slow deep breath, while you breath out try to feel the tension leave your body and notice how relaxed your body becomes. Think about letting yourself become heavy and extremely relaxed. Continue with the slow deep breaths, until relaxation is achieved. 
  • While you are doing your slow deep breaths you may start to feel pleasantly warm and this is good. This warmth means you have improved the blood circulation in your body, which may slightly raise your body temperature. You might also notice that your arms and legs feel heavy and relaxed. Try to remember the way you feel during this moment!
  • Now as you breathe in, tighten up the muscles of one of your hands by making a fist. Hold this fist for 5 seconds while your thinking to yourself "my hand is tense." Then let go of your fist and relax your hand by letting it go limp. Now think to yourself "my hand is relaxed." Repeat this process through all the muscle groups in your body. This will help teach you to recognize when you are feeling tense. 
  • Finish your relaxation session when you feel ready, but try to maintain the state of relaxation that you achieved while you open your eyes and get up.

Disclaimer: The information in this section is provided with the explicit understanding that AA Spine Center is not providing medical advice
or referrals to specific physicians of any type. Any medical information on this site is provided as a guide and is not a
substitute for a physician consultation.

 Healthy Body Weight

Remember that there is a (+ or -) 10% deviation to this formula for people with body frames below or above the "average" size.

Morbid obesity is double the recommended body weight. Morbid obesity increases the risk for back and neck injury significantly. It also increases the risk for heart problems and other unhealthy conditions of all the major systems of the body.

When trying to maintain a healthy back, keep these few tips in mind:

  • No sloutching.
  • Lift properly. Keep your back straight. Keep what you are lifting close
    to your body. Bend at your knees to lift, while supporting your body with one
    arm on your thigh or the counter if possible.
  • During prolonged standing, keeping one foot on a stool or footrest will
    help to protect the lower back.
  • Maintain good body posture while sitting.
  • Use a lumbar support in your chair, if possible.
  • Utilize a footrest while sitting for long periods of time.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid having a large rounded abdomen, which increases the lumbar
    curve causing unwarranted stress on the back. 
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. 

A rough estimate to calculate healthy body weights are the following two formulas for women and men. (remember 1 foot = 12 inches) For adult females: 100lb (for a height of 5ft) + 5 lbs for each additional inch over 5 ft Exp: 100lb (60inches) + 25lbs for a female who is 65 inches tall So a female who was 5.5ft tall should weigh approximately 125lb. For adult males: 106lb (for a height of 5ft) + 6lbs for each additional inch over 5ft Exp: 106lb (60 inches) + 72lbs for a male who is 72 inches tall So a male who was 6ft tall should weigh approximately 178lbs.