Healthy Spine Exercises

By Dr. Ben Kim

To review, ligaments and muscles go from one bone to another. The main difference is that ligaments stabilize joints, while muscles allow you to move them.

Your spine is made up of 24 bones that together, form your vertebral column, the protective housing for your nervous system.

Between each of your vertebrae are ligaments and muscles, ligaments to keep your spine stable, and muscles that allow you to bend and rotate your trunk as needed.

By nature, your muscles receive more ongoing blood supply than your ligaments. But both your muscles and ligaments can benefit from ongoing stretching, which ensures regular delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and regular removal of carbon dioxide and other waste products.

When your ligaments and muscles are not well perfused with healthy blood, they're at greater risk of being sprained and strained.

Four Simple Stretches to Keep Your Spine and Surrounding Ligaments and Muscles Healthy

To stretch the backside of your spine, particularly the lower region, begin by lying on your back with your neck comfortably supported, then use your hands to bring one knee up by your chest and hold it there for a good 20 to 30 seconds.


Repeat with your other leg, then do the same thing but with both legs up by your chest at the same time. If you can't get your knees to come right up against your chest, just bring them up as far as you comfortably can. Hold for a good 20 to 30 seconds, release and rest for a few seconds, then repeat a few more times.


To stretch the tissues that line the front of your spine, particularly the lower part of your spine, begin by lying on your stomach, then use your hands to slowly push your upper body up off the ground. Push your upper body as far up off the ground as is comfortable, but keep your lower extremities on the ground

Be sure to maintain comfortable breathing, and hold for a good 20 to 30 seconds. Rest for a few seconds, then repeat another few times.


To provide a "long axis," traction-like stretch to your entire spine and its surrounding ligaments and muscles, begin by lying on your back with your arms up above your head, resting on the ground.

While in this position, simultaneously push your arms up and away from your core while "pointing" your legs down and away from your core. The idea is to make your trunk slightly longer by stretching your arms and legs away from your middle at the same time. Hold this position for as long as is comfortable, rest for a few seconds, then repeat for a few sets.


As with all stretches, it's best to save these spinal stretches for later on in the day, and optimally, after a good workout that has your heart pumping generous amounts of blood through all of your tissues. Generally, blood flow is at its worst first thing in the morning, so stretching major muscles and ligaments upon awakening comes with increased risk of experiencing strains and sprains.

Dr. Ben KimImprove Your Health With Our Free E-mail Newsletter

Join thousands of people from all over the world who receive our natural health newsletter.

  • 100% free. You can unsubscribe anytime.
  • No spam. We respect and protect your privacy at all times.
  • Valuable information that you can use to improve the quality of your health and life.
First Name:


Just a note to let you know how much I appreciate your newsletter. As a fellow health care provider (optometrist) and medical researcher, I find your distillation of the literature into lay terms to be accurate and very understandable. I really enjoyed your contribution regarding macular degeneration. Keep up the good work. - Kristine Erickson, OD, PhD, FAAO

I get a lot of e-mailed newsletters and yours is the only one I read thoroughly from top to bottom. Your advice is enlightening, educational, easy to follow and it works! Thank you so much for all that you offer. - Lisa Abramovic

Thanks for your excellent health newsletter. I look forward to it every week. Thanks for providing the best online health resource I have found. - Moorea Maguire

I'm sure as a doctor you hear your share of complaints. I just thought you'd like to know that there's at least one person in your "e-audience" that appreciates the time and effort you put into sending the emails. I really look forward to them. - Linda H., Raleigh, North Carolina

Many of my adult ESL students are Korean, and enjoy bits and pieces from your newsletter that I have shared with them. In addition to your logical approach to health, I enjoy sharing your newsletter because your English is unfailingly correct as well as easily understood. Thank you for your beautiful approach to life. - J. Zetterstrom

I thank you and your staff for such a great website. I am former National Level Bodybuilder so I know a thing or two about health and fitness. Your site is very valuable and I do my best to pass it on to friends and people I train. It is also a helpful resource in my career as a human service provider working with clients who need to recover from substance abuse. I believe a major part of recovery is getting your body and mind feeling healthy and strong. Thank you again! Great Website! - Michael Christopher, MSW

I truly appreciate your wonderful newsletter - your balanced and professional way of looking at issues is so helpful! - Erica H.

First Name:

Disclaimer: Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties and/or functions of food and/or nutritional products. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and these materials and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.