Back Exercise: Lying Down on the Floor

Lying down on the floor each day is a simple and effective back exercise, but rather than work your back, it gives it a much-needed rest. We lose up to an inch in height every day as our spine compresses under gravity.

Lying down on the floor lets your spine recover. You'll feel calmer and more energetic, and if you suffer from back pain, you may get some relief.

Best Times to Lie Down

  • just before bed to help with insomnia, to help your back feel comfortable overnight and into the next day
  • at lunchtime to be more productive during the afternoon
  • before going out for the evening to sparkle and enjoy yourself to the max!

How To Do It

Throughout this back exercise, listen to your breathing and notice what's happening to your back. Many people feel their back gradually flatten out and let go against the floor.

  • Lie face up on a comfortable, flat, firm surface (e.g. a carpet or rug)
  • put a small pile of paperback books under your head, to a comfortable height (about 2 small paperback novels for many people.)
  • Point your knees at the ceiling so your feet are flat, and your lower back is comfortable. Don’t let your legs flop while you’re lying down!
  • Lie there, noticing your back slowly drop back into the ground. DO NOT FORCE IT! Just wait for your back to do its stuff. Stay lying for 10-20 minutes at the same time each day.

If this exercise is painful or very uncomfortable, stop. But if it’s just "difficult" for you, you can’t wait for the end, you hate lying there doing nothing...persevere for a few days.

"I hated lying down at first and I begged my Alexander Technique teacher to let me stop. Two weeks later, I love it!" -- Kath

Taking time to help your back is an important skill to learn, and can save you a lot of time and pain.

Why Do It?

Lying down is almost a complete therapy in itself. Do the lying down exercise regularly, and bad backs often stop aching so much. "Healthy" backs will also benefit: you'll work better and play better. Try lying down before you play football, or go out for the evening.

If you're on your feet or sitting all day, the discs in your back gradually compress under the weight of gravity, and this is associated with tiredness and lack of energy. Lying down helps your spinal discs plump up again.

Again and again I've found that lying down during the day clears my head and gives me a reality check and sense of proportion. I always work better after lying down.

It's a great argument for an after-lunch siesta, incidentally: to lie down after lunch for a short while isn't necessarily lazy-- it gives you a boost and makes you more productive during the afternoon (and more fun in the evening!)