Having strong back muscles is the secret to alleviating and preventing back pain because it reduces your chances of back injury. Back extensions are a good exercise, but they are not always the best choice for some people. Alternatives are available to effectively strengthen your low back gently and safely.
Many people lose the flexibility required to do the cat/cow exercise, demonstrating how stiff their spine has become. Get down on your hands and knees, with hands under shoulders and knees under your hips. If your knees hurt, kneel on a towel or mat. If your wrists hurt, place your fists on the floor rather than your palms. Begin by rounding your back toward the ceiling, dropping your head slightly, tucking in your buttocks and tightening your core. Return to starting position. Slowly assume the opposite position by arching your back and looking up slightly. Breathe. Return to starting position. Alternate between these two positions 10 times. Work up to three sets of 10. Do each movement in a slow, controlled fashion and hold each pose briefly. Each time try to gently increase your range of motion. This exercise will help loosen your spine and improve spinal fluid viscosity.
Kneel in front of a stability ball and drape yourself forward over the ball. Think about increasing the space between the bones of your spine. Slowly begin to lift your upper body and arch your spine. Hold and return to the starting position. It may help to have your feet anchored against a wall for support when you first attempt this one. Cross your arms over your chest, behind your back or behind your neck. Work up to three sets of 10. This exercise strengthens the muscles of the low back.
Lie face down on the floor with your arms extended overhead, palms facing each other. Tighten your core and exhale. Raise your legs and your arms a few inches off the floor at the same time. Hold briefly, inhale and slowly lower arms and legs back to the floor. This one is harder than it sounds. The range of motion is small. It strengthens your core and improves flexibility.
On your hands and knees again -- with hands under shoulders, knees under your hips and fingers pointing forward, using a mat for cushioning if necessary -- keep your back straight, your core tight and your shoulders parallel to the floor. Begin by raising your right arm and your left leg at the same time. Stretch them out long and lift them as high as you can. Slowly lower to the starting position and switch sides. Try to do 10 repetitions without losing your balance. Work up to three sets of 10. This exercise strengthens your lower back and challenges your balance.