Cross-country Skiing: Don’t Let Your Back Stop You

WebExercises Sports Medicine Minute

3 Exercises that can help to prevent low back pain for cross-country skiers.

Cross-country skiing is a great activity this time of year to have fun while strengthening your upper and lower body muscles. It also improves cardiovascular endurance and can burn up to 700 calories per hour.  However back pain effects up to 65% of people who participate in this sport.(1) In a recent study exercises focusing on thoracic spine mobility and stabilization were shown to decrease pain in cross-country skiers.(2)

Here are three simple exercises for the thoracic spine.

#1 Open Book Mobilization

Begin lying on your side with the top knee and hip bent to 90 degrees. Brace your knee against a foam roll with the downside hand. The top arm is stretched out in front of you at shoulder level. While maintaining knee and foam roll contact, rotate your upper body so that top arm reach across your body and touches floor on opposite side. Keep knee in contact with foam roll in order to eliminate hip movement. Return to start position and repeat for recommended sets and reps.

#2 Quadruped Spine Rotation

Begin on your hands and knees in a quadruped position. Place your right hand on your right shoulder blade area. Rotate your upper body by turning the right side of your face up toward the ceiling. Be sure to maintain alignment of supporting arm. Repeat for prescribed sets and reps.

#3 Prone Blackburn T

Begin lying face down. Arms should be extended to sides at shoulder level with hands at 9 and 3 o’clock position. Make hands into a soft fist with thumbs up. A pillow, or rolled towel, may be placed under forehead for comfort. Activate core muscles. Lift hands and arms toward ceiling. Then squeeze shoulder blades together. Neck muscles should remain relaxed. Hold for 5 seconds. Return to start position and repeat for prescribed repetitions and sets.


About WebExercises: WebExercises was created with the belief that patients want to participate in their healthcare, and if given the proper guidance they will succeed. In the rehabilitation environment, home exercise program paper handouts have been an industry standard, however we believe patients deserve more than the status quo. This has driven us to lead the industry since 2005 providing the best home exercise program and patient experience. We have delivered over 10 million exercises to patients helping them improving their health. Learn more at


(1) Bahr, R., et al. 2004. Low Back Pain Among Endurance Athletes With and Without Specific Back Loading—A Cross-Sectional Survey of Cross-Country Skiers, Rowers, Orienteerers, and Nonathletic Controls. Spine. 29(4):449–454

(2) Kobesova, A., et al. 2018. Can Exercise Targeting Mid-Thoracic Spine Segmental Movement Reduce Back Pain and Improve Sensory Perception in Cross-Country Skiers? Clin J Sport Med.

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David Cruz

Author David Cruz

Dr. David Cruz, DC practiced as a sports chiropractor in an medical orthopedic setting for 20 years treating athletic injuries, from weekend warriors to college athletes serving as the team chiropractor for Dominican University. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) as well as having both FMS and SFMA certifications. The combination of his background in sports medicine and interest in technology made him passionate about bringing these two worlds closer together, resulting in the foundation of his company WebExercises in 2005. WebExercises is used by health and fitness professionals to create, share and monitor patient exercise programs.

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