There’s nothing worse than bending over only to feel a sharp pain in your lower back. If this has happened to you, know you’re not alone. Low back pain is, unfortunately, the most common health problem among seniors. Not only does it cause pain but it can cause disability too. Thankfully there are ways you can strengthen your lower back at home to help prevent and treat aches and pains.
Prevention starts with monitoring your weight, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise. If you want to maintain strength and balance then check out these senior exercises that help strengthen your lower back! Just be sure to check with your doctor or physical therapist before performing new exercises or if you are currently experiencing back pain.
Low-Impact Aerobic Activity
Before we dive into specific exercises we want to talk about low-impact aerobic activity. Some great examples are walking, biking, and swimming all of which can be easily worked into your workout routine.
Aerobic exercises are great for elevating your heart rate and improving circulation. They can also help relieve back pain by improving blood flow to the spinal structures. Furthermore, aerobic activity will also help you maintain a healthy weight while also strengthening your back simultaneously. With this in mind, give some of these low-impact aerobic exercises a try!
Knee to Chest Hug
This exercise is great for stretching and strengthening your lower back. You will need to perform this exercise on the floor so make sure you use a cushioned mat to support your spine.
To begin, start by lying on the floor with your knees bent. Next, bring your knees slowly to your chest and then wrap your arms around your calves so you can bring your legs closer to your body. If you’re unable to bring your knees all the way to your chest don’t fret, just pull them in as far as you can do so comfortably. You also want to make sure your head is on the ground during this exercise — you don’t want to strain your neck!
Sit backs are a great exercise that will help strengthen your back and your abdominal muscles. Targeting these areas are important if you want to get out of bed or a chair with ease. This is another exercise that is performed on the floor so be sure to grab a cushioned mat before starting.
To begin, sit on the ground with your knees bent and arms crossed over your chest. Slowly sit back as far as you can do so comfortably and then return to the starting position. Try to perform 10 repetitions. If you want to make this exercise more challenging consider extending one leg out as you sit back. You could also try holding a two to five-pound weight in each hand.
A cat-cow stretch is a gentle, low-impact exercise that will help you maintain flexibility in your lower back. Not only does it feel fantastic but it’s gentle on the spine too.
Since you’ll be performing this stretch on the ground go ahead and grab a cushioned mat. Begin this exercise on all fours and ensure your knees are under your hips and your hands are under your shoulders. Next, inhale while you lift your tailbone, raise your chin, and then tilt your head back. Hold the stretch for three deep breaths and then on an exhale arch your back up and drop your chin to your chest. Hold this position for another three breaths and then on an exhale return to the starting position. Repeat this exercise five times.
The superman pose is great for strengthening your lower back, upper body, and your glute muscles. Targeting these areas will help you when standing, sitting, walking, as well as a variety of other daily tasks.
To start this exercise, grab a cushioned mat and lay flat on your stomach face down. Next, with your arms straight in front of you, slowly raise your arms and legs off the floor simultaneously. Make sure you lift with slow, controlled movements and only lift as far as you can comfortably.
If lifting both legs and arms at the same time is too difficult, then try lifting just one side at a time. For example, you can start with lifting your right arm and leg, hold the pose for a few seconds and slowly lower back down. Then you will repeat with the opposite side. Whichever way you decide to perform this exercise, try to complete it 10 times.
Standing Lumbar Extensions
Standing lumbar extensions are a great exercise that you can perform anywhere. They’re especially beneficial after you’ve been bending or sitting for long periods.
Begin standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on the small of your back and slowly bend your spine back. Make sure you only go as far as you can comfortably. Hold this position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position. Finally, try your best to complete this exercise 10 times.
If this is too challenging you can modify this exercise by performing it seated in a chair. Sit up tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and complete the steps above.
Hip extensions target your lower back and hip muscles. But that’s not all, they also help strengthen your pelvis and leg muscles too. This exercise is performed on the floor so make sure you grab a cushioned mat for support.
Begin on all fours and make sure your pelvis is in a neutral position. Next, bring your right leg back, extending it as far as comfortable and then bring it back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 repetitions and then repeat with the other leg. If you want to make this exercise more challenging, try lifting your foot towards the ceiling.
Lumbar Twist Stretch
The lumbar twist stretch is a great exercise that promotes flexibility in your lower back. This is important for preventing pain and injuries.
Start by lying flat on the floor on a cushioned mat. Bend your left knee and place your right hand on the outside of your left knee. Then, gently pull your thigh towards the right side of your body — this is the gentle twist movement. Hold this position for about 30-seconds and then return the starting position. Repeat with the opposite side.
Pelvic tilts help stretch your lower back and hip muscles. This will prevent tired and sore backs and may even help you have a better walking workout! Before you get started, grab a cushioned mat because you’ll be performing this exercise on the floor.
Lie down on the mat with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and keep your arms by your sides. Gently arch your lower back and push your stomach out. Hold this position for about 5-seconds and then relax. Next, flatten your back, pull your belly button towards the floor and hold for 5-seconds before relaxing. Alternate these movements for up to 30 repetitions or however many you can do comfortably.
The bridge is a basic lift exercise that will help strengthen your lower back and glutes. You’ll also be working on increasing your range of motion in your hip flexors.
To get started, grab a cushioned mat and lie on your back with your palms flat on the floor and your knees bent. Next, raise your hips to lift your lower back off the floor. Lift as high as you can without lifting your feet off the floor and then slowly lower back down to the starting position. Repeat this exercise for 10 repetitions.
A quick tip: To prevent strain, make sure your head and neck are flat on the floor while performing this exercise.