7 Daily Exercises for a Healthy Back

A lady demonstrates the supine trunk rotation for middle back pain.

If you are the average person over 55 years-old, these 7 exercises are a daily must for long term, pain free back health. We’ve all had back pain or stiffness at some point in the past, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 7 exercises that you can complete daily that will go a long way towards alleviating any pain or stiffness you feel in your lower or upper back. The following exercises can also be helpful to alleviate middle back pain and scapula pain.

It has been reported that the average adult sits between 6.5 and 10 hours per day – that can amount to 40-60% of their waking hours! Prolonged sitting can lead to postural compensatory movement patterns and adaptive soft tissue tightness that contributes to hip, back and lower quadrant pain often related to joint destruction.

As an Arizona specialist in treating low back pain, hip pain and other lower quadrant issues for patients 55 years old and older, I have arrived at the following exercises that may be useful in reversing and or preventing hip and back pain.

As a physical therapist I have designed and implemented back strengthening programs for seniors with back pain and hip pain for 36 years. I have seen firsthand the importance of strong core muscles and flexibility/mobility of your spine and hips. The important factor in any exercise program is the consistency of performing the exercises. The following exercise program is focused primarily on flexibility. I do not intend to diminish the importance of maintain one’s core muscular strength.  This will be specifically addressed in another post.

Here are 7 simple exercises to help stop and potentially reverse the harmful impact of prolonged sitting.

Cautions before beginning the daily back health program

Generally speaking, the average adult shows tissue tightness and decreased mobility over time. There are some cases where individuals have excessive mobility of joints and associated tissues.

  1. When performing these exercises, one should feel some tension but no pain. They are designed as gentle stretches.
  2. Post exercise one may feel some soreness but no significant pain.
  3. Persistent joint popping and snapping can be a sign of tissue hypermobility.

If any of the above occurs or if you have questions please contact us or call 480-833-1005

Daily routine warm up

Starting Position is lying on a carpeted surface or yoga mat. Lay flat for 2 minutes concentrating on your breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing technique

Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage on your abdominal muscles. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. Breath out slowly through you lips keeping them pursed as when you blow out a balloon. Breathe in for 2 seconds between breaths.

The daily back health exercises

Opposite arm leg stretch

A physical therapy tech performing the opposite arm leg stretch

With right knee bent up while lying on your back ring left toes toward head while driving heel away from you. Reach right fingers overhead toward opposite wall. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5 repetitions. Switch sides and repeat.

Supine hip flex stretches

Supine hip flex stretch is peformed while laying down and is known to relieve back pain.

Bring your right knee to your chest and allow the left side to remain in the floor. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 repetitions. Switch sides and perform 10 repetitions. Perform 2 sets 10 each side.

Hamstring stretches

Stretching the hamstrings to relieve back pain

Supporting the back of your thigh, straighten your knee, pull toes toward head, until you feel tension on the back of your thigh in area of hamstrings and calf. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 repetitions. Switch sides and perform 10 repetitions. Perform 2 sets 10 each side.

Supine trunk rotations

A lady demonstrates the supine trunk rotation for middle back pain.

Begin on your back with the knees bent and the knees and feet together. Keeping the upper body as still as possible slowly drop the knees to the left and then using the abs return them to the center. Repeat on the other side. This exercise should be done with a gentle rocking motion at a fairly slow pace. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 15 times. 2 sets per session.

Iliopsoas stretch

The top view of the iliopsoas stretch
The rear view of the iliopsoas stretch.

Lie on your left side with a small towel just above your hip. Bring bottom knee toward chest. Bring top knee back and behind you. Reach above your head with top hand. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 repetitions. Switch sides and perform 10 repetitions. Perform 2 sets 10 each side.

Prone press ups (Cobra press)

A physical therapist demonstrates the cobra stretch, otherwise known as the prone press up

While positioned on your stomach gently press up arching your back and resting on your elbows. Hold this position 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Perform 2 sets per session. If you develop sharp pain in your back or legs hold.

*PLEASE NOTE: this exercise is excellent for those who sit for long periods of time during the day. If you have been diagnosed with Spinal stenosis, Arthritis, Spondylolysthesis or some other degenerative condition of your back, use caution with this exercise. As always do not perform if you experience pain during or after any exercise.

Glute bridging

A demonstration of a glute bridge for back pain relief.

Lay flat on your back with your feet flat on the surface. Keep your abdominals tight. Push from your heels and lift your hips in the air. Perform 15 repetitions, rest and repeat.

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