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Bid Adieu to Backaches With These Back-Strengthening Exercises

    Backaches can be frustrating. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty common; it’s estimated that 60-80% of adults in Western countries deal with back pain. If you currently belong to this statistic, it’s not hopeless. One way to manage or prevent nonspecific back pain is by working out and strengthening the back muscles.

     Manage or prevent nonspecific back pain with back-strengthening exercises.

    This article discusses the best back moves for strength so that you can say goodbye to pain. Many of these moves will also help strengthen your residual limb muscles, making it easier to move with a prosthetic limb.


    Before doing any exercise below, start with a five- to 10-minute moderate cardio, like brisk walking, running, or cycling, to awaken your muscles and reduce your chances of injury.

    Next, do a five-minute dynamic stretching routine to prepare your back for targeted exercises. There are dynamic stretching videos available on YouTube to help you get started.

    Back exercises  

    A combination of three to five exercises twice a week is best for beginners. Then, as you get stronger, you can slowly work your way up to three sets.

    1. Resistance band pull-apart  

    This is a simple yet effective way to kickstart your back-strengthening program. Make sure to choose a resistance band that allows you to complete one to two sets without sacrificing good form. This move targets the upper back muscles and helps improve shoulder health.

    • Hold a resistance band with both hands in front of you and extend your arms. Make sure the band is parallel to the floor.

    • Pull the band apart by moving your arms out to the sides. Make sure to keep your arms straight. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep your spine neutral. Return to the starting position and repeat.

    • Perform one to three sets of eight to 12 reps.

    Resistance band pull-apart

    1. Lat pull-down

    The lat pull-down is a staple exercise for strengthening your back. You can do this move on a machine at the gym or anywhere with a resistance band. Lat pull-downs target the middle and lower back and the arms.

    • Choose a suitable resistance band and a high anchor point to secure the band. This can be a hook or a door frame. You can also choose whether to do this exercise sitting, kneeling, or standing.

    • Extend your arms to the sky and hold the band. Pull the band down until it reaches chest height.

    • Hold this position for a second, but keep your core braced.

    • Complete one to three sets of eight to 12 reps.

    Lat pulldown with resistance band

    1. Back extension  

    Back extensions are great for beginners as this move targets the back side of the body, including the back extensor muscles, hamstrings, and glutes.

    • Lie face down on an exercise ball with your abdomen in the center.

    • Extend your arms overhead and in line with your ears. Slowly raise your upper body and arms until your shoulders are above hip height. Make sure to engage your core and glutes and keep your feet on the floor.

    • Pause for a moment at the top, then slowly lower.

    • Do one to three sets of eight to 12 reps.

    Back extension

    1. Woodchop for below-knee limb loss

    The wood chop mimics a chopping motion across the body. It’s a full-body exercise targeting your arms, shoulders, upper back, and core, specifically the obliques.

    • Hold a dumbbell or medicine ball with both hands overhead and arms straight.

    • Rotate your hips to the right and bring the dumbbell or ball down outside your right knee in a sweeping movement.

    • On the ascent, twist your back toward the left and, keeping your arms straight, bring the dumbbell or ball back up above the left side of your head. This movement should mimic a chopping motion.

    • Complete one to three sets of eight to 12 reps on each side.

    Woodchop exercise for below-knee limb loss

    1. Dumbbell good morning for below-knee limb loss

    This move is called the “good morning” because it mirrors bowing to say hello. This exercise targets your upper and lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. It’s considered an advanced move, but beginners can still do this by forgoing the dumbbells.

    • If using a dumbbell, hold it with both hands in front of your chest. Position your feet shoulder-width apart.

    • Bend your knees a little to protect your joints. Then bend your hips and lower your torso toward the floor. Make sure your back is straight throughout this movement.

    • Once your torso is parallel to the floor, stop and prepare to return to the initial position. Push through your feet until you’re back to standing.

    • Perform one to three sets of eight to 12 reps.

    Dumbbell good morning exercise for below-knee limb loss

    1. The Superman  

    Superman may look simple, but it can be challenging. This move is excellent for strengthening the lower back. It also works out the arms, shoulders, upper back, glutes, and hamstrings.

    • Lie face down on the floor with your arms extended overhead.

    • Engage your core and glutes and lift your upper and lower body off the floor as high as possible without straining.

    • Pause for one second at the top, then return to the starting position in a controlled motion.

    • Do one to three sets of eight to 12 reps.

    The superman exercise

    1. Forearm plank with prosthesis on

    Planks are a full-body exercise targeting your core, arms, shoulders, upper body, and legs. This move engages deep back muscles to allow you to hold this position effectively.

    • Get into a plank position with your elbows and forearms on the floor and your legs extended.

    • Your body should form a straight line from head to toe. Engage your core to make sure your hips don’t dip.

    • Hold for 30 seconds and work up to one minute or even longer.

    Forearm plank

    The bottom line  

    You don’t have to suffer from nonspecific back pain. You can manage or prevent back pain by strengthening your back and core muscles. The exercises above can be your first step towards functioning better and feeling stronger.

    Don’t feel pressured to use heavy weights or resistance, especially if you are a beginner. Always work your way from the lightest weight you can tolerate and up. Also, stop as soon as you feel any pain during a movement. And as always, please consult your doctor before proceeding with any new exercise.