The older we get, the more we hear about friends and loved ones dealing with back issues.
Personal trainer Greg Justice helped us identify three good back exercises for seniors who want to help strengthen their back muscles. Many of these exercises address the pelvic region, which provides support for the spinal cord and lower back area, a common delicate area for seniors with back issues.
One of the key things to remember with all of these exercises is to concentrate on breathing properly.
Bridging, Justice explains, "strengthens core muscles of the lower back and buttocks, while stretching the hip flexors." The hip flexors, or psoas muscle area, play an important role in keeping the lower back strong and healthy.
- Begin this exercise by lying on your back.
- Bend your knees keeping your feet flat on the floor and keep your arms at your side, against the floor.
- Gently lift your pelvic region into the air, as high as you comfortably can.
- Hold for several seconds.
- Return hips to ground.
The Pelvic Tilt
The pelvic tilt “increases range of motion and flexibility of the pelvic region," says Justice. Like the previous exercise, the pelvic tilt helps to strengthen the muscles in the pelvic and abdominal regions, which can provide the support seniors need to avoid back pains and strains.
- Begin this exercise on your back.
- Bend your knees keeping your feet flat on the floor and place your arms across your chest area.
- Contract your abdominal muscles by tightening and squeezing in that area while pressing your lower back to the floor, so there is no space between the floor and your lower back.
- Be sure to keep breathing normally as you contract these muscles. Beginners often tend to hold their breath during this exercise.
- Hold for 1-3 seconds, while breathing normally.
- Relax and repeat up to 10 times, or as many times as you are comfortable.
The Cat and Camel Stretch
Like with the previous exercises, breathing plays a key role in the cat and camel stretch.
- Begin this exercise on all fours, with your knees and hands on the ground.
- Start to round your back with your head down while exhaling. This position should resemble a frightened cat with their upper back rounded near the neck.
- Reverse this position by allowing your back to relax and lower. This should resemble the valley between a camel's two humps.
- Be sure to inhale and exhale as you move through this exercise.
- Repeat up to 10 times, or as many times as you are comfortable.
Keep Strain Away!
While these three exercises were created to help seniors, they can also be helpful for any adults wanting to strengthen their back muscles. Physical therapists often suggest working on abdominal muscle strengthening for women who have recently gone through pregnancy. The pelvic tilt would be one of many useful exercises for women to incorporate into their routine after they have a baby.
"These muscles get stretched out during pregnancy," explains physical therapist Jamie Glick, who has a private practice in Huntington, N.Y. and runs a blog called How to Help Back Pain. "Many times this stretching and resultant weakness are not addressed."
Exercises like these can also be helpful for adults suffering from arthritis by strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints. Please consult with a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.