Back Pain Exercises for Seniors

Back pain exercises for seniors are an effective way to avoid low back pain as we age. As much as 80% of adults will experience back pain sometime during their lifetime.

We often will have back pain that involves muscle spasms along the supportive muscles of the spine. This can also be in the form of pain, numbness and tingling especially in the buttock or lower legs. It is very important to try to prevent low back pain so it does not recur.

  1. Supine Bridge
  2. Supine knee to chest
  3. Prone press up
  4. Quadruped Cat and Camel
Watch my instructional video

The supine bridge is a great place to start. This exercise will strengthen our low back, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings. Great all around back strengthening routine. The supine knee to chest will improve the flexibility of your low back and also stretch your posterior gluteus muscles and lower back muscles. Then switching to a prone position to perform the press up will go a long way to improve the mobility of your spine while at the same time improve and disc symptoms that may have developed. We can always count on the cat and camel to really work on the flexion and extension of the entire spine from the lumbar area, thru the thoracic, to the cervical area.

Exercise 1

Supine Bridge. Begin on your back with feet flat on the floor, your pelvis in posterior tilt pressing against the mat or bed. Slowly raise your hips off the bed or mat to a position that has your hips fully extended. Hold for 5 seconds and return to the start position. Repeat 10 times.

Back Pain Exercises for Seniors
Exercise 2

Supine knee to chest. Begin by lying on your back with feet flat on the floor. Perform a posterior pelvic tilt and press your back to the floor. Inhale deeply and bring one of your knees toward your chest. If you have had hip replacement, bring the knee only to 90 degrees. Feel the stretch in your lower back. Hold for 10-20 seconds, then repeat with your other leg. This stretch should feel good and not cause pain.

Back Pain Exercises for Seniors
Exercise 3

Prone Press-Up. Begin on your bed or on a mat. Start on your hands and knees position then proceed further to lying on  your belly. Bring your hands palm down to the level of your face. If it is uncomfortable for your neck, place a towel roll beneath your forehead. Take a deep breath in through your nose, then lift your head off the floor and begin to arch your back. Keeping your pelvis on the floor, look at the far wall. This should not be painful. If the movement is painful, use a smaller range of motion. Repeat 10 times

Back Pain Exercises for Seniors
Exercise 4

Cat and Camel. Begin by assuming a quadruped position on the mat.  Inhale through the nose deeply. Exhale and begin to arch your back while looking down between your knees. Hold this position for 3 seconds, then begin to move in the opposite direction, lifting head and flattening your back. If possible, rotate your hips forward, (anterior tilt), and bring your belly button toward the ground. This will encourage a reverse arch in your back. Hold this position for 3 seconds, then return to a neutral position. Repeat 3 times.

Back Pain Exercises for Seniors

There are many causes of back pain which will require back pain exercises to be performed. Muscle strain is a common problem with seniors due to generalized weakness combined with many of the household chores involving the back muscles. This leads to overworked muscles. These low back muscles should be strengthened to provide improve mobility and stability during our activities of daily living. Strains will need to be addressed with ice and rest before any strengthening can be initiated.

Poor posture is another important cause of back pain. Years of poor alignment from slouching in front of the TV, or sitting hunched over a desk or table while eating. The result is muscular fatigue along with joint compression forces and stresses to the disc material that usually cushion your vertebral bodies.

At the same time we may have the cumulative effects of years of wear and tear which can cause degenerative changes in your spine. This is called DDD, or degenerative disc disease when it affects the disc, or DJD, degenerative joint disease, when if affects the the facet joints of the spine. Back pain exercises will go a long way to help avoid these conditions.

To be sure, make certain your back pain is not related to other systems in your body, including your bladder, kidneys, or ovaries. This could be an infection, an endometriosis, or a cancer.

Back pain exercises for seniors are a super way to help avoid many of the problems associated with the back, including low back pain, radiating pain, or numbness and tingling.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to see other exercises or senior fitness content. You can leave your comments and suggestions on my About Page. Need personal help? Check out my new Academy. Exercise is really your magic pill to feel better and live longer. Remember to stay active, stay strong, and stay connected!

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.