Health & Longevity

8 Core Exercises for Seniors With Back Pain

For many older adults, back pain, particularly in the lower back, has become an unwelcome companion. But there’s good news. With the right approach, this discomfort can often be managed and even alleviated.

At the heart of this proactive care approach is core strength. Core exercises provide the foundational support our body needs, especially as we age.

By understanding the mechanics behind back pain and the pivotal role of core muscles, seniors can empower themselves to lead active, independent lives.

How Is Core Strength Related to Back Pain?

Lower back pain is not just a symptom — it’s often a message from our body that something is wrong. For many seniors, this pain can be traced back to a weak core. Our core is a complex structure of muscles that acts as a protective belt for our lower back, supporting good posture and balance.

A weak core doesn’t just open us up to injuries — it can also exacerbate existing back issues. But, with the right core exercises and a proactive mindset, seniors can enjoy a better quality of life, reduced pain, and greater independence.

What Are the Core Muscles?

The term “core” is often associated with the abdominal muscles, but it encompasses so much more. At its foundation, the core is made of multiple muscle groups working in harmony to provide stability to our spine and pelvis.

These muscles include the rectus abdominis, which runs down the front of our abdomen, and the oblique muscles, which run down the sides. Additionally, muscles like the psoas help link our spine to the lower body. At the back, the lumbar muscles support our spine, complemented by the deeper muscles running along the spinal column.

By understanding and strengthening these core components, seniors can pave the way for a more stable and independent lifestyle.

What Are the Benefits of Core Strengthening for Seniors?

Aging gracefully essentially means retaining your independence and continuing to enjoy the comforts and pleasures of your own home as you age. Core strengthening can help you maintain your physical independence even as you enter your golden years.

Here are a few benefits of core exercises for seniors:

  • Improves balance and stability: A strong core equals better balance, reducing the risk of falls.
  • Eases low back pain: By strengthening the core muscles, older adults can ease and prevent lower back pain.
  • Enhances functional independence: Whether it’s bending to pick something up or stretching to reach a shelf, a strong core makes daily activities smoother.
  • Supports an active lifestyle: Once you’ve strengthened your core and eased your lower back pain, you may be able to engage in other activities that you once enjoyed.

In essence, core exercises are not just about the physical benefits. They’re about reinforcing that theme of independence and proactively preparing yourself for the challenges that come with aging.

Best Core Exercises for Seniors 

Whether you’re trying to be proactive or you’re trying to ease back pain that’s already shown up, it’s important to select the most effective core exercises that cater to the unique needs of seniors. Here are some exercises designed to support core strength without imposing undue strain.

Warm Up

Before diving into the exercises, ensure you’re adequately warmed up. Gentle stretches or a brief walk can get the blood flowing and prepare the muscle groups.


Lying flat on your back with knees bent, gently lift your upper body towards the ceiling, focusing on engaging the abdominal muscles. This move targets the rectus abdominis without straining the neck or back.

Leg Lifts and Leg Raises

Lay on your back and lift one leg at a time, maintaining a hip-width distance. This engages the lower abdominal muscles while providing gentle activation to the hip flexors.

Bird Dog

Begin on all fours. Extend your right arm in front and your left leg behind, creating a straight line from fingertips to toes. This exercise improves balance and coordination and strengthens both back and abdominal muscles. Alternate with the left arm and right leg.

Bug Back 

Lying on your back, raise both arms and legs to the ceiling. Slowly lower your right arm and left leg, ensuring your back remains flat on the ground. Return to the starting position and alternate sides. This focuses on core stability and coordination.


Lie face down with your arms stretched out in front. Lift your upper body and legs off the ground simultaneously, squeezing the glutes and back muscles. This move helps to strengthen the entire back, promoting a strong core foundation.

Side Bends 

Standing with your feet apart, hold a light weight in your right hand. Bend to the right, engaging your oblique muscles, and then return to the starting position. Repeat on the left side. This targets the muscles on the side of your abdomen.


These are a step up from crunches. Lying down with knees bent, use your core muscles to lift your entire back off the ground. It’s an effective, albeit challenging, exercise for the abdominal muscles.

Safety Precautions and Considerations 

As we champion the theme of independence, especially for older adults engaging in physical activity, safety is key. Always consult with a healthcare provider or physical therapist before embarking on any exercise journey to make sure it’s safe for you. Recognize and respect your body’s limits — it’s important to approach workouts progressively rather than impulsively.

Stay adequately hydrated to support muscle function and recovery. Opt for stable exercising environments, perhaps using aids like mats for added security. Throughout your workout, pay attention to your posture to get maximum benefits while avoiding potential strains.

It’s also important to follow up your workout with some lifestyle adjustments designed to support the changes that come with age. For instance, installing handrails, non-slip mats, and an adjustable home hospital bed can all help you stay independent without risking strain on your lower back.

The Bottom Line

The journey to independence and active living in our golden years is a combination of choices, tools, and determination. By understanding what causes back pain and by incorporating safe, effective exercises into our daily routine, we are making a conscious decision to embrace the positives and live comfortably in our own homes.

As with all things in life, it’s not about reacting to the moment but preparing for the future. As you prepare to navigate the changes that come with aging, consider installing a home hospital bed to help you gracefully age in place.

At Transfer Master, our beds are designed to blend in with the landscape of your home, meeting your needs without taking away from your comfortable environment. To learn more about which bed might be best for you, request a quote today.



Low back pain in older adults: risk factors, management options and future directions | National Library of Medicine

Understanding and improving core strength | Harvard Health

Core exercises: Why you should strengthen your core muscles | Mayo Clinic

The 8 Challenges Of Aging | Forbes


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