Maybe there are people in the world who wake up pain-free, without tight muscles and stiff joints. Lucky them. Chances are, as men and women of a certain age, it may take a minute in the morning to nudge reluctant body parts into action.
The benefits of stretching cannot be overstated. It helps improve posture and range of motion while increasing blood flow to reduce inflammation and promote healing. Stretching before exercising may help decrease muscle soreness as well as prevent injury.
According to the experts, back stretches, and back strengthening exercises for seniors, are a vital part of any daily routine.
Here are a few back exercises for seniors that will help keep you in the game.
Lower Back Stretches Standing
Standing back stretches are a great way to start the day or refresh muscles stiff from too much sitting during the day.
Standing Trunk Extension
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder length apart.
If it’s comfortable, place the heels of your hands on your lower back. Otherwise, place them on your hips or just leave your arms by your side.
Keeping your knees straight, bend back as far as you can.
Repeat 5-10 times. Try to go a little farther each time.
Forward Back Bend
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder length apart.
- Fall forward from your hips.
- Let your arms dangle. Don’t push; just let your body relax into a comfortable position. If you like, grab each elbow with the opposite hand.
- Some younger people bend into a jackknife position, but it’s not necessary to go that far. The upper body parallel to the floor is a good stopping point.
- Take it slow to ensure good balance. If you feel uncomfortably dizzy, skip this one.
Standing Back Side Stretch
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder length apart and your arms at your side.
- Keep your knees straight and bend sideways from the waist. Reach down your leg with your lower hand. Hold for 10 seconds then slowly bend to the other side.
- Repeat 5-10 times on each side.
- Maintain this relaxed stretch for 20-30 seconds. Then roll back up, slowly, to avoid imbalance.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
For those who might not be comfortable stretching while standing, it’s easy to perform these back stretches in an armless chair.
Seated Back Bend
Sit up straight in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and your back away from the chair back.
- If it’s comfortable, reach back and place your palms on your lower back. Otherwise, put them on your hips or rest them on your lap.
- Lead with your head and arch your spine from neck to lower back.
- Don’t lean back from the hips.
- Hold for several deep breaths.
- Repeat 5-10 times.
This is a yoga stretch that is usually performed on all fours but can also be effectively done in your chair.
- Sit with your feet on the floor and the knees at 90 degrees.
- Place your hands on your knees. If it’s comfortable, turn them in so your fingers point at each other.
- As you exhale, press your hands into your knees and gently roll backward. Start at your lower back and imagine you are bending one vertebra at a time. Finish by extending your neck so you look at the ceiling.
- As you inhale, roll your shoulders forward and pull your belly toward your spine. The motion should start from the neck “one vertebra at a time” until it finishes at the lower back.
- Repeat 10-15 times.
Seated Shoulder Squeeze
This is a seated stretch great for a tired upper back that has been hunched over a computer.
- Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your side. This can also be done sitting straight up in a chair.
- Pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together as though you’re trying to make them touch each other.
- Hold for 5 seconds then release.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
A few minutes of back stretching can be just what you need to get those juices flowing and prepare your body to get moving! Remember to always consult with your physician before attempting any new physical activity and if a go - take it slow.