Workout Wednesdays – Back Exercises

We know that it has been harder for people to exercise over these last several weeks. Christina Lombardi, DPT PT has put together easy exercises to get you moving at home! Each Wednesday for the next several weeks we will share these exercises with you. Each exercise includes descriptive information and a video to demonstrate how to do it. This week will be back exercises. Check back next Wednesday for chest exercises.


Scapula Retraction

  • Muscles: Upper back muscles
  • Movement:

    • Sit upright or stand upright 
    • Squeeze your shoulder blades together
    • Hold for a few seconds
    • Relax and Repeat
  • Recommended Guideline:

    • Begin with one set of 10 reps, then progress to 2-3 sets of 10 reps
      • If 10 reps is too difficult try aiming for 5-8 reps
    • Pause for 3-5 seconds, then progress to 5-10 seconds
  • Key Points:

    • Do not arch your back
    • Do not shrug your shoulders
    • Maintain a good upright posture throughout
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Mid-Body Row

  • Muscles: Upper Back Muscles
  • Movement:

    • Sit upright towards the front of a chair or stand upright 
    • Place your arms straight out in front of you 
      • A little lower than shoulder height
      • Palms can be facing each other (thumbs up), palms down, or palms up
    • Bend at the elbows while you squeeze your shoulder blades together
    • Straighten you arms back to the starting position back up
  • Recommended Guideline:

    • Begin with one set of 10 reps, then progress to 2-3 sets of 10 reps
      • If 10 reps is too difficult try aiming for 5-8 reps
  • Key Points:

    • Do not arch your back
    • You can use a Thera-band or weights to make it more challenging
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Shoulder Extension/ Lower-Body Row

  • Muscles: Lower Back Muscles
  • Movement:

    • Sit or Stand upright towards the front of a chair or stand
    • Place your arms straight out in front of you 
      • A little lower than shoulder height
      • Palms can be facing each other (thumbs up)
    • Keeping your elbows straight, lower your arms down by your side 
      • Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lower your arms down by your side
    • Pause for a few seconds
    • Then bring your arm back up
  • Recommended Guideline:

    • Begin with one set of 10 reps, then progress to 2-3 sets of 10 reps
      • If 10 reps is too difficult try aiming for 5-8 reps
  • Key Points:

    • Do not arch your back
    • Keep your elbows straight throughout the movement
    • Use can try adding a Thera-band or weights to make it more challenging
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Disclaimer: You should discuss your health risks with your provider before starting any exercise program.


Christina graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology/Secondary Education from West Chester University. She continued her studies at Temple University in Physical Therapy, graduating with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy in May 2015. Christina began her career in outpatient physical therapy and has worked per diem in both the acute and rehabilitation care settings. She treats a variety of orthopedic and neurological diagnoses in her current role as a staff therapist for Good Shepherd Penn Partners. Recently, Christina developed an interest in Oncology. Last year, Christina’s dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and her cousin with ovarian cancer. In addition, within the past year, a few of Christina’s friends have also been diagnosed with cancer. Because of her love for family and friends and her passion for physical activity and wellness, she realized that she could help touch so many lives. Christina joined the Oncology Section of the American Physical Therapy Association in May 2019 and is beginning to take continuing education courses to develop her clinical knowledge and expertise. She instructs indoor cycle classes and has her Level 1 CrossFit Certification. She enjoys  various forms of exercise and other health and wellness related activities and topics.