Lower back pain and stiffness are among the most common complaints in general, especially as we age.
It is one of the most common problems why patients go for rehabilitation. And based on the inquiries in our Pilates studio, more than 50% who comes for Pilates classes have some complaints in their back.
Does Aging affect our Spine?
As we age, our movement is getting a lot more restricted,
and we feel more fragile when doing activities that we can easily do when we were younger.
To this unpleasant surprise, even just putting on your trousers can flare up back problems.
And because of this, we have come to the conclusion that this is going to be the case from now onwards. There's no more turning back of time.
Are you moving more than when you were younger?
But after working with thousands of lower back and Spine stiffness for more than 20 years, what I have observed is that the most common cause of this problem is the lack of movement.
It has actually little to do with age...
But it's more of what you're doing with it as you age.
I always tell my students this - that our joints are like a door hinge if you keep the door closed for a long time,
with the changes of the weather and humidity…
the hinge will rust and most likely be stuck. Try forcing that door open, and you know what will happen. Either you break the hinge or break the door.
This is synonymous with either hurting your joints or straining your muscles.
Oil your Joints - by moving more
But if you keep using that door -
and oil it regularly - that hinge can last for more than a lifetime. We all have seen these door hinges in century-old temples and churches.
So the main point here is we need to move our joints… and no joint is more important than the joints of our spine. So we have to take care of it.
The 3 major movements of our Spine
Our spine can move at various angles due to its multiple joints, and it is a little complicated on looking at all the possible movements our spine can do.
To make it easier for us to understand, we will simplify it into 3 major movements of our spine.
1. Side bends - the bending of your spine to either left or right.
2. Flexion and extension - you can call this rounding and arching the back.
3. Rotation - this happens when you look to the right or left.
Most of the movements that we do will most likely be a combination of any three major movements.
So in order to maintain our spine's mobility, it makes sense that we have to cover these 3 areas. And that will make it easier for us to put together a spine stretching routine to do daily.
So here are 3 Spine exercises you can do daily
- to keep the joints of your spine mobile and healthy.
And to make it simpler for you, I'm going to teach you seated versions so you can easily go into these stretches while you're working at home or in the office.
Here's a video that you can follow along with daily.
Disclaimer: This video should not be taken as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your local physician, physiotherapist or health provider if you're suffering from back pain or discomfort of any sort prior to commencing any exercise. This video is meant for educational purposes only and doesn't replace rehabilitation advice given by a medical professional.
1. The Side bends
Start sitting tall with your hands behind your head.
Slowly bend to the right side and try to reach your left elbow up to the ceiling. Go back to the centre and start bending to the other side, reaching your right elbow upwards. Repeat this movement around 3 to 5 times.
Try to keep both elbows in the same plane to avoid rotation of your body as you bend sidewards.
And do it in a slow and controlled manner.
2. The Spine flexion and extension
Start in the same sitting position, but this time with your arms open to the side at shoulder level.
Open your arms further to the back and, at the same time, arch your spine backwards.
You will feel a good stretch on your chest and upper back at this point.
Then slowly go the other way by rounding your entire spine forward as you bring your arms in a hugging position.
Here you will feel a nice stretch at the back of your neck and lower back if done correctly.
Repeat the movement three to five times.
Ensure that you arch and round your back evenly in its entire length.
Don't put too much emphasis on one area, especially the neck and the lower back, when arching backwards.
Again do this movement in a slow and controlled tempo.
3. The spine rotation
Start from a seated position with your hands behind your head.
Try to sit as tall as you can then slowly rotate to the right side
- sit even taller as you go back to the center then rotate to the other side.
The key point here is to keep your sitting posture tall and avoid leaning to the front as you do the rotation.
Aim to do 3 to 5 times with these 3 exercises and make sure you don't go beyond your comfortable range as you stretch.
These exercises are straightforward - but yet very effective -
as we really don't need complicated movement.
Just be consistent with it, and your spine will remain healthy in the years to come.
Share this article with your family and friends… this may save them a visit for rehab in the future.