Dr. Michael Kaspin is a physical therapist at the Colorado Health Clinic. Back pain is a leading factor in seniors choosing to live a sedentary life. Doing some basic and relatively simple exercises, and doing them daily, can help alleviate a lot of back pain. Be sure to consult with your physician or physical therapist before doing these exercises. There is a video tutorial of the following exercises above for all three exercises.
Isometric Heel Bridge
Lay down flat on your back. Raise your knees by moving your feet closer to your buttocks, until your legs are bent at about a 45 degree angle. Keep your feet flat on the floor, so that you can press through your heels. Then raise your hips and hold it for one minute. Repeat this exercise three times. Take breaks between each one-minute exercise. If you get cramping in your hamstrings, as some people do, move your feet closer to your buttocks and try again. There is no need to raise your hips higher than your comfort level allows. Doing this routine activates your hips. Get into the habit of doing this isometric heel bridge lift once a day.
Do this back pain relief exercise with a soft surface under your knees. You can use a pillow or a sturdy piece of foam padding. You can even do this on a couch or bed, but be sure that if you tip over, you will not take a fall to the floor. You might land on the cat! That would make the cat grumpy.
Get on your hands and knees, with your arms and upper legs as close to perpendicular as you can. Slowly lower your hips towards your heels, and hold that pose for at least 45 seconds. You should feel a nice gentle stretch in the lower half of your back, as your muscles and bones stretch out a bit. Then slowly come back up to your starting position. Do this routine three or four times, once a day. If you experience any pain in your hips or knees, just lower yourself as far as is comfortable towards your heels. Pay attention to stretching the lower part of your back.
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, go down into a squat. Raise your arms in front of you for balance. Be certain to not allow your knees to go any further out than the front of your toes. You can do this by sticking out your behind. Don’t worry about that being improper to do, as it is perfectly acceptable to stick out your behind in this exercise! Push through your heels as you straighten your legs and go back up. You will feel a nice good burn in your leg muscles and your hips. For safety, be sure that there is something behind you and in front of you to grab ahold of in case you lose your balance. Do this exercise three or four times, once a day.
These are three relatively simple exercises which a senior can do on a daily basis. Being regular in your exercise will, over time, help to relieve back pain. These routines loosen up the muscles which help our back to move as it was designed to function. Stronger muscles help to keep our bones/joints in place and working properly. Enjoy the exercises. Then go have one of the cookies that your grandchild has on the plate. You have earned it!
Aaron Ainbinder is the author of “Just Before the Stroke of Seven”