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As women get older, it becomes more important to take certain practical matters into account when choosing an exercise program. You might have increased episodes of pain, or you might not have the same level of flexibility or strength you had when you were younger. If you suffer from chronic lower-back pain, you may have to limit or avoid certain exercises that place excessive strain on your lower back. Yet certain exercise programs can also improve your posture and reduce lower-back pain by strengthening the muscles that support your lower back.
Older Women and Lower-Back Pain
Osteoporosis is a primary health concern for many aging women. As you age, your body stops producing estrogen, resulting in decreased bone density. Older women are particularly susceptible to injuries and lower-back pain caused by osteoporosis. Although osteoporosis is a key reason for lower-back pain in older women, other possible causes include arthritis, tumors of the lumbar spine, congenital disorders and infections, according to the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Benefits of Exercise
Older women can take certain proactive steps to reduce or improve symptoms of lower-back pain. Engaging in a regular exercise program that includes strengthening exercises, resistance training and aerobic exercise can provide a number of benefits, including increased bone density, improved flexibility and range of motion, and less pain. Combining exercise with education on pain management can provide additional benefits. A study published in the December 2008 issue of the "Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing" found that older women with lower-back pain who engaged in an eight-week program consisting of lumbar stabilization exercises and education on pain management showed a significant reduction in lower-back pain and improved flexibility, life satisfaction and lumbar muscle strength scores.
Certain exercises that are used to increase muscle strength can improve your posture and reduce lower-back pain. Suggested strengthening exercise programs for your lower back include hydrotherapy, a type of water exercise therapy, and the Alexander technique, a postural strengthening program, according to the National Osteoporosis Society. Aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, is recommended to keep the lower-back muscles nourished and to promote healing. Additionally, practicing modified yoga may provide benefits for seniors with lower-back pain by reducing pain and improving flexibility and strength, according to the American Senior Fitness Association.
Your doctor or physical therapist can educate you on specific pain management techniques for your condition. Consult your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you've never exercised before or suffer from a medical condition that may affect your ability to perform certain exercises. It's best to learn the proper form and modifications for certain exercises from a qualified instructor. Stop exercising if you experience increased pain or any additional troublesome symptoms and seek medical attention as soon as possible.