3 Minutes to A Healthy Back!



Photographs by Casey Steffens

If you’re an athlete, being sidelined with an injury sucks. So many of us (myself included) don’t take simple preventative measures to keep them from happening, particularly when it comes to the spine. According to Dr. Scott Duke of Duke Chiropractic, our go-to resource for all things sports medicine, 80% of the walking population will eventually have some kind of back injury. We asked Dr.Duke for a quick, no-excuses routine anybody could do to keep their back healthy and ready for action!

The 3 X 3 Back to Back routine is 3 part series of moves that takes just 3 minutes!  This is an easy everyday workout designed to mobilize, stretch, and strengthen the spine without spending a lot of time. It’s a perfect warm up before working out that preps the body for activity and keeps us doing all those crazy workouts we love. Each section below is 1 minute.



This is your warm up, designed to loosen up and lubricate the spine. Each exercise is 20 seconds of continuous movement at your own pace.


1. Cat-Cow

On all fours, flex and extend spine. Head should move in line with spine.


2. Pelvic Release

Lie flat on back with left foot crossed on right. Arms flat at 90 degree angle. Drop left knee out to the side while turning head to right. Switch legs and repeat.


3. Open Book

Lie on right side with knees up and arms extended in clap position in front of you. Twist right arm over to the left side and extend. Switch sides and repeat.



These moves are designed stretch the hips and release tension off the lower spine.


1. Piriformis Stretch

On a hip high surface, bring knee up and place on top. Back leg is straight. Press hip forward. Hold 10 seconds and switch legs.


2. Hip Flexor Stretch

Stand parallel to hip high surface. Bring inside knee up and pull ankle gently towards you. Outside leg stays slightly bent with knee directly over ankle. Hold 10 seconds and switch legs.


3. Glute Stretch

Lie flat on back. Bring right knee up. With left hand gently pull it across left side and down to floor. Turn head to right. Hold 10 seconds and switch sides.



These core moves are designed to strengthen and lock in that good alignment!


1. Rotating planks

Start in plank position and hold 10 seconds. Rotate right to side plank and hold 10 seconds. Come back to center plank and hold 10 seconds. Rotate left to side plank and hold 10 seconds.


2. Point & Reach

On all fours extend right arm in front and left leg in back. Engage core and hold for 10 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.


Photographed at Exceed Physical Culture, NYC