Maintaining a limber spine and robust postural muscles as we age is one of the best methods to prevent back pain. This can be accomplished by simply stretching our backs and chests, as well as ensuring constant active movements of our shoulder joints. If your aging parents are looking for ways to improve their posture, mobility, and ultimately their quality of life, here are four chair exercises for back strengthening that can help.
These exercises should be performed when seated in a sturdy chair like a strong dining table chair, and not a recliner or armchair. Make sure they sit squarely in the seat and not on the edge, with knees bent at 90 degrees and feet planted firmly. Each stretch should be repeated at least thrice while inhaling and exhaling properly throughout. Your parents can do these simple exercises whether they’re living in assisted living or memory care community, but it’s always best to consult their physiotherapist or doctor before they perform any stretches.
Our chests get tense when we sit or stand with our shoulders slumped forward, and it might also hurt our upper and middle backs. This exercise expands the chest, extends the shoulders, and strengthens the postural muscles.
Interlock your hands behind you. As you sit up straighter, you should feel your spine lengthen. Raise your shoulders upward and slowly extend your arms backward. Release your grip after three long breaths and repeat.
Many people experience pain in their lower back because arthritis and spinal deterioration grow more prevalent as we age. By strengthening core muscles and stretching lower back muscles, this Cat-Cow exercise helps to maintain your aging parent’s spinal health.
Put both hands on your knees with fingers pointed inward at one another. Gradually arch your spine and shoulders backward while pressing into your hands. You should be looking up at the ceiling. Then, reverse this movement by moving your shoulders forward, bringing your stomach in, and drawing your chin into your chest. Do these three to five times.
As we eat, read, look at our phones, drive, and more, we extend our chins forward and downward repeatedly. In addition to causing neck aches, this can also aggravate pain in the upper and middle back plus other areas of the spine. This stretch helps to relieve this discomfort while also opening up the chest, which might feel constricted due to poor posture.
Interlock your hands at the back of your head, with thumbs reaching down your neck next to your ears, and your head slightly looking up. Point your left elbow to the ground while your right elbow points upward. Take two long breaths, then slowly bring your spine back upright. Repeat this motion the other way.
A couple of gentle twists throughout the day can increase spine flexibility and prevent potential lower back pain in the future. Scoot slightly forward on the seat. Raise your arms straight up into the air while sitting upright and stretching your spine. Then, gently twist your waist to the left and rest your right hand on the exterior of your left knee. Hold the twist for three to five long breaths and slowly release, repeating the process on the opposite side.