Exercises for a Strong Spine

It may sound silly to do exercises in order to strengthen your spine. After all, your spine is composed of bones and cartilage, not muscles. How are you supposed to strengthen it through exercise? While you cannot actually make your spine itself stronger, the bones are really only one part of the equation of spine health. In reality, the muscles that surround the spine, known as the erector spinae, play an essential role in the strength of your spine. This supporting muscle group starts at the base of your head and runs down the length of your entire back, and you use them all the time in daily tasks. By focusing on strengthening the muscles that support the spine, you can reduce your chance of injury significantly. There is a reason why strengthening these muscles and the core are essential elements of any back rehabilitation.

If you are experiencing back pain, it’s important that you seek medical attention from an orthopedic specialist before starting an exercise routine. However, if you are just trying to focus on strengthening your back, here are some exercises you can begin to incorporate. Try doing this routine three to five days a week to start. You will need two dumbbells to complete these exercises.


This exercise works your upper back, obliques, shoulders, and upper arms.

  • Lie on the ground face up with a dumbbell secured between your two hands with your arms reaching toward the ceiling and the dumbbell aligned with your chest. Your legs should be bent with your feet on the floor and your knees towards the ceiling.
  • Hold your abs tight as you slowly extend your arms over your head and behind. Keep your elbows bent slightly and your biceps close to your ears.
  • Once your arms are extended parallel to the floor, begin to lift them back up. Do these eight to 12 times.


This exercise works your upper and lower back and your glutes.

  • Lie face down on your belly with your arms extended above your head and your legs out straight. The tops of your shoes should be facing the floor.

    Simultaneously raise your feet, arms, and shoulders of the floor, using your lower back to lift. Don’t look up, keep your neck aligned with your spine, and avoid jerking around too much.

  • Hold for three seconds, then go back down. Repeat this 12 to 15 times. For an added challenge, repeat with dumbells in your hand.

Shoulder Squeezes

This exercise is designed to work your mid-back and shoulders.

  • With a dumbbell in each hand, take one step forward with both your knees bent. Keep the front foot where it is but lift your back heel, balancing on the ball of the foot. Learn forward from the waist, with abs clenched and spine and neck straight. Hang your arms down toward the floor in line with the shoulders and palms.
  • Tighten your abs and mid-back muscles as you squeeze the shoulder blades together and down your back. Make sure to bend your arms with your elbows up and behind you and your shoulders away from your ears. Keep your neck straight with your back and your wrists down.
  • Return to start and repeat eight to 12 times.

Bent Over Row

This exercise works your biceps, mid-back, lats, and rhomboids.

  • Stand with your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend at the hips to a 45-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell in each back, palms facing in, and arms down. Draw in your belly button to support the low back.
  • Keep your elbows close in the body as you lift the weights till your elbows are past your back. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and hold.
  • Return to the start and repeat.

We hope that these exercises help you to strengthen the muscles around your spine so it can function optimally. At ClinTech Center for Spine Health, we are proud to be Johnstown’s first choice for an orthopedic specialist. If you need help with your spinal health, contact us today to schedule an appointment.