As we age, our body naturally tends to lose mobility, flexibility and strength. This is due to a variety of reasons, such as natural reduction in daily activities leading to sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass) and consequent atrophy of contractile tissues, ligaments and tendons. This overall increased stiffness can then lead to chronic pain, among which the lower back is one of the most commonly affected areas. Often, this type of pain is due to weakness not only of the lower back, but also of the surrounding muscles.
However, the maturing population should not assume that suffering from this type of pain is automatically part of aging and therefore surrender to the fact that this will just be a constant issue of their daily life. In fact, there are a series of exercises that can be performed daily for a few minutes to help relieve lower back pain, and we will explain them in the following sections.
Seated hamstring stretch
Our lower back is connected to the muscles in our legs, and more specifically, a painful lower back could be due to tight hamstrings pulling the back muscles. Simply sit down in a comfortable position on your sofa or chair, making sure that your feet are flat on the floor and placed at shoulder width. Then extend one leg forward until your knee is in a straight position and with just your heel making contact with the floor, with the toes pointing up. Then extend the arm on the same side along the straightened leg to start stretching your hamstring and hold for up to 20 seconds. Repeat this for both legs. This exercise is also great as a stretch for the middle back muscles.
Cat and cow pose
This exercise helps both stretching and extending the spine and back. It is a low impact stretch, and therefore excellent for seniors who may suffer from other chronic pains. For this exercise, you would need to place your hands and knees on the floor, making sure to have a comfortable surface underneath (like a mat or a rug). For a correct posture, ensure to have your wrists aligned with your shoulders and the knees aligned with your hips. From here, slowly exhale and curve the spine up, without over stretching it. Then, inhale slowly whilst arching the back down, this time making sure to not over extend the spine. Repeat this movement slowly and as many times as possible, as it helps loosen the abdominal wall and back.
Similarly to the seated hamstring curl, this exercise is aimed at stretching the middle back muscles as these may also be pulling your lower back, causing pain. Back extensions are to be performed from a prone lie down position on a mat or rug. Then place your hands with the palms facing down at your head level. From here, push yourself up on your forearms to arch and stretch the mid section of your back. Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position and repeat for 5 to 10 times.
Bent knee reverse curl
This exercise is aimed at strengthening the abdominal wall, as a weak core can lead to lower back pain. For this exercise, you would require to lie down on your back, so make sure to perform it on a conformable flat surface, like a mat. From this position, bend both legs with the feet adhering to the floor and bring your knees to your chest one at a time, holding it there for around 5 seconds each time. Repeat for around ten times to start feeling the benefits.
A stronger back helps reduce the risk of injury in our daily tasks, but also enables us to perform more activities. If you are suffering from lower back discomfort, try these exercises to relieve the pain and start enjoying your hobbies again in no time!
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PHONE: (248) 207-5378