Avoiding back ache with lower back exercises

If you don’t exercise regularly as you age, your abdominal muscles (which help support the spine) weaken and lose tone, causing backaches. “I don’t believe in anything to tighten weak back muscles,” says Fred DeVito, manager of the Lotte Berk Method, an exercise clinic in New York City, “but there are exercises to stretch and strengthen the lower back and help relieve the pain.”

DeVito has devised some gentle moves to practice every day; they take only a few minutes. Start out slowly. The stretches may be uncomfortable at first, but they will become more natural as your muscles stretch and strengthen. Increase the duration of these back exercises gradually to avoid overuse injuries. The exercises are aimed at strengthening the abdominal muscles and lower back muscles. Follow them regularly for a couple of months to see results.

Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic Tilt Lie on your back with arms extended over head, palms up. Bend knees, keeping feet, knees and thighs together and feet flat on the floor. Press your lower back into the floor by pulling in your abdominal muscles and the tilting pelvis up. Tuck chin and press back of the neck into the floor. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then release. Do not push down with feet during exercise.

Cat Back Stretch

Kneel, keeping head in line with the spine, hands on floor shoulder-width apart and knees hip width apart. Pull abdominals in and curl lower back up, stretching muscles along the spine. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then release. Cat Back Stretch

Standing Lower Back Stretch

Standing Lower Back Stretch Standing straight, grasp the doorknob of a locked door. Then, with knees and thighs together, squat down to sitting position, bending upper body forward. Tuck the pelvis, pull abdominals in and curl lower back up, stretching muscles along the spine. Lift heels off floor and hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then release.

Lower Back Stretch

Repeat pelvic tilt and hold. Bend left knee toward chest, grasp with hands. Then gently pull towards your chest. Slowly raise head and shoulders toward knee. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then release. Return to starting position, repeat with right leg. Lower Back Stretch

Back of Leg Stretch

Back of Leg Stretch Repeat pelvic tilt and hold. Bend left knee toward chest. Grasp leg with hands and extend it toward ceiling, stretching through to heel. Grasp ends of towel in each hand and slide it around bottom of your left foot. Raise head and shoulders and pull left leg gently toward head, stretching hamstrings. Keep elbows wide apart and chin tucked. Keep hips down, right knee bent and foot flat on the floor. Hold stretch for twenty to thirty seconds. Release and return to starting position. Repeat with right leg.

Lower Back Stretch with both legs

Repeat pelvic tilt and hold. Bend knees toward chest simultaneously and grasp behind them with hands. Gently pull knees towards your chest. Slowly raise head and shoulders off. Keep your chin tucked, hips flat on the floor. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds. Release slowly and roll back to starting position. Lower Back Stretch with both legs

Tilt and Press

Tilt and Press Repeat pelvic tilt and hold. Bend right knee towards your chest and hold firmly with hands. Straighten left leg and flex left foot, trying to stretch hamstrings to floor. Do not push down with heel: push out. Hold for twenty to thirty seconds, then release. Return to starting position. Switch legs and repeat.
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