When your back aches, sometimes the last thing in the world you want to do is exercise. But, taking it easy is often the worst thing you can do. Done in a controlled manner, active back exercises distribute nutrients into the disc space and soft tissues of the back, keeping discs, muscles, ligaments and joints healthy. And for seniors, it’s especially important because vertebrae and cartilage wear down with age.
That’s why doctors say knowing a few simple exercises can help alleviate back pain. Here are three of the simplest — and most effective — exercises to try.
The Pelvic Tilt. Maintaining a flexible spine helps you preserve a good range of motion. You can stretch your back with a pelvic tilt — which can even be performed in bed. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Gently roll/tilt your pelvis up and in toward your chest, but do not lift your mid-back off the floor. Hold this position to feel a stretch in your lower back. For a visual example, check out this easy-to-follow guide from Livestrong’s Kathryn Walsh.
The Curl Up. Your abdominals are part of your core muscles, which also include your lower back. By strengthening your abdominals, daily activities can be easier to perform. Livestrong recommends the curl up. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Contract your abdominal muscles to slowly lift your shoulders and head off the floor. Pretend you are holding a grapefruit between your chin and your chest. Do not go higher than is comfortable. Slowly lower your shoulders and head to the ground. Repeat the exercise 8 to 10 times, depending on your abdominal strength.
A Walk. Yes, walking keeps your back healthy by conditioning your whole body. It strengthens the postural muscles of the buttocks, legs, back and abdomen. A brisk stroll may also help your body release endorphins, hormones that subdue pain.