How to Relieve the Woes of Back Pain with 4 Exercises (and 3 Mistakes You Should Never Make)
Back pain tends to be one of the most common issues people over 60 face, and it’s due to the degeneration of joints in the spine. Some of the most common causes of lower back pain include degenerative changes in your discs and joints, spondylolisthesis/slipped disc, and spinal stenosis.
While you won’t be able to reverse or completely stop these issues from happening, you can alleviate their symptoms and decrease your risk of developing them by exercising.
There are several different types of exercises that can help you manage both lower and upper back pain. Depending on your mobility and fitness and energy levels, you can choose which ones make the most sense for you. In general, the more exercise you can fit in your day, the better you will feel.
If you’re dealing with back pain, one of the best ways to manage it is by using a foam roller. Some studies have shown that the right foam rolling exercises can reduce back pain and also increase blood flow, which can help with overall recovery.
With that said, it could potentially lead to more issues if you don’t use it properly. Some of the most common mistakes people make when using foam rollers include:
Rolling Directly Where You Feel Pain
While it might feel good, rolling directly at the painful area could actually inflame it more, leading to more pain.
In fact, you should never use the foam roller directly on your lower back as it will actually cause more harm than good. Instead, roll muscles that connect to your lower back such as the piriformis, hip flexors, and rectus femoris.
Rolling Too Fast
If you go too fast, you’re not getting any of the benefits of the foam roller. You want to use short, slow rolls that focus on the effects on the area in question.
Rolling Too Much
Don’t spend more than 20–30 seconds rolling a specific area. Spending too much time in one place can lead to damaged tissues or pinched nerves.
Improving your core strength can help reduce back pain and also improve your overall posture. The stronger your back and stomach muscles, the less stress and pressure you’ll be putting on your joints and discs.
You’ll want to skip the crunches and sit-ups though as these will actually inflame your back problems. Luckily, they’re not the only way you can engage your core.
While the exercises below can help build your abdominal muscles, if you do experience back pain during any of these exercises, you should stop immediately.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly bring one knee as close to your chest as you can and hold for a few seconds. Then repeat with the other leg.
Lie on you back with your knees bent and feet placed hip-distance apart. Slowly lift your hips from the ground until your hips, shoulders, and knees are in a straight line. Hold for a few seconds and lower. Repeat 8–10 times.
Lateral Leg Lifts
Lie on one side with your legs together; make sure to keep the lower leg slightly bent. Lift the top leg about 18 inches making sure to keep it straight and extended. Hold for a couple of seconds and lower. Repeat 8–10 times and then switch sides.
You might remember this exercise from elementary school, but it’s still a great workout even now. Lie on your stomach and stretch both arms in front of the body. Raise your arms and feet until there’s about a 6-inch gap between them and the floor. Hold for a few seconds and lower. Repeat around 10 times.
If you have access to a gym, one of the best ways to reduce and prevent further back pain is by strength training. While the above core exercises can definitely help you build up your muscles, to really build a good foundation you’ll need to add in some weights.
You don’t have to lift hundreds of pounds to see the effects of strength training. With that said, the more you work out, the stronger you’ll get so you might be surprised to note that what you’re lifting doesn’t strain your muscles as much after a few months.
You’ll want to avoid exercises that really strain your back such as deadlifts and squats, at least in the beginning. Instead, focus on exercises that build up the muscles that support your back.
If you’ve never lifted weights before, it’s always a good idea to use the machines first as you’ll be less likely to hurt yourself. Some good machines to start with include:
- Leg extensions
- Leg curls
- Bench press
- Lateral pull-downs
- Leg press
There’s some evidence that shows yoga can really help relieve and even prevent further recurrence of back pain. If you’re currently suffering from back pain, you should find a practitioner that has experience working with people that have similar issues as it might mean they will need to modify certain poses.
Yoga also has the added benefit of improving your overall balance and flexibility. You can check your local gym to see if they have sessions that are specifically tailored to people who are over 60 to ensure you’re getting an instructor who understands your needs.
Back pain doesn’t have to be a constant in your life just because you’re over 60. So long as you’re able to keep active, you can prevent reoccurrences or, at the very least, reduce the time it takes you to recover.
What are some exercises you have found that help relieve your back pain? We’d love to hear from you! Let’s continue the conversation in the comment section below.