HealthSenior Lifestyle

10 Effective Back Stretches for Seniors: Improve Flexibility

Written by GrigorinaLoa
Last Updated :

If you’re looking for the best back stretches for seniors, you’ve found the right place.

I’ve selected the best 10 stretching exercises based on years of experience working with elderly people. 

As a bonus, I will give you some tips on how to plan your exercise regimen.

Just keep reading.

Key Takeaways

  • Back stretches benefit seniors by strengthening their spine, relieving lumbar pain, and improving quality of life.
  • There are plenty of beginner-level back stretches for seniors, but you should be careful if you have any underlying spine condition. 
  • Back stretches have the best effect on your body if you do them regularly. 

4 Benefits of Back Stretching Exercises for Seniors

Before discussing the best lumbar stretches, I’d like to discuss why you should include these stretches in your exercise routine. 

#1 Correct Posture

Nowadays, it’s common for people to have bad posture because they often hunch over computers, desks, and mobile phones. And that contributes to back pain much more than you can imagine. 

To help combat this, some individuals find using a back support brace beneficial in providing additional support and promoting better posture.

As specialists from the American Pain Institute explain

Poor posture causes imbalances in the load on various parts of the spine.” (1)

However, doing back stretches strengthens your back muscles, improves your bad posture, alleviates pain, and increases flexibility. 

#2 Spine Stability

Unfortunately, muscles weaken with age, and don’t have the strength to support your spine well, leading to discomfort and increased risk of injuries.

But back stretches can improve your back muscle strength and increase stability, so you can handle physical activities without suffering damage. 

#3 Less Back Pain and Injuries

If your back hurts, exercise is the last thing on your mind. However, one of the biggest benefits of stretching, including senior stretching exercises, is pain relief because it reduces muscle tension and stiffness.

And keeping your back muscles active reduces the risk of future injuries when making abrupt movements. 

#4 Improved Mobility and Mood

Regular back stretches benefit mobility by relaxing tight muscles, reducing tension, and preventing stiffness.

Staying physically active, including engaging in “aerobic exercise for elderly,” also improves your range of motion and is an excellent way to prevent stress, depression, and anxiety, according to studies. (2)

However, not all back exercises are suitable for seniors, especially if you have a chronic medical condition. So, consult a doctor or a physical therapist before you try these ten back stretches. 

10 Best Back Stretches for Seniors

One of the best things about these back stretches for seniors is that they don’t take much time from your busy day. And you can do them at home, even if there’s no one around to help you. 

Moreover, I’ve selected back stretches that you can do without special equipment – you only need a mat and a sturdy chair. 

Still, I should warn you to start slow and not overtire yourself. 

#1 Bent Knee Raise

The Bent Knee Raise is a great back stretch for seniors. It allows you to work on your abdominal and hip flexor muscles, which are vital for getting out of bed or a chair:

  • Lie on a mat on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat. 
  • Put a pillow or rolled towel under your back’s arch. 
  • Place your hands on either side of your body and tighten your abdomen.
  • Lift the left knee towards your chest as far as you’re comfortable.
  • Then lift the right and hold both in position for five seconds. 
  • Return to the starting position and repeat by starting with the right knee.
  • Do the exercise at least ten times. 
  • If it’s far too easy for you, make it more challenging by adding ankle weights. 
  • Watch this video for a quick demonstration.

#2 Arm Raises

The Arm Raises are perfect if you’re looking for a beginner-level exercise for seniors. They engage your middle and upper back muscles to increase mobility, flexibility, and range of motion: 

  • Lie on your back and bend your legs with your feet flat. 
  • Use a pillow or a towel under your lower back.  
  • Put your palms facing downwards. 
  • Raise your left arm until your arm is straight.
  • Lower the hand and repeat with the right arm.  
  • Do the exercise ten times for each arm. 
  • Don’t forget to breathe in when you lift your arm and breath out when you lower it. Make sure you don’t move your lower back. 
  • Watch this video for a demonstration.

#3 Arm Raises on Hands and Knees

This variation of Arm Raises is perfect for seniors who want to improve their shoulder stability or those who have problems reaching a high shelf:

  • Place a mat on the floor and get on your hands and knees. Keep your spine straight and hips neutral, while your hands and knees should be shoulder-width apart.  
  • Lift your right arm and keep your elbow straight. 
  • Return to the starting position and repeat with the left arm. 
  • Do the exercise ten times with each arm. 
  • If you can’t get up from the floor, put a sturdy chair nearby to help you stand. Alternatively, you can do this body stretch on your bed. 

#4 Cat and Camel Exercise

The Cat and Camel is another gentle stretch, perfect for adults and seniors. It opens up the back, strengthens the upper body muscles, and improves bad posture. And it’s not a difficult exercise at all: 

  • Get on your hands and knees on a soft surface like a yoga mat.
  • Keep your knees a few inches apart and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles, arch your back like a cat, and lift your head toward the ceiling. Do it slowly and stop if you experience any sudden discomfort.
  • Curve your back and lower your head toward the ground. 
  • Repeat the movements ten times.
  • Don’t forget to breathe in when arching and breathe out when curving. 
  • Watch this video for a demonstration.

For seniors that have problems with standing up, the seated Cat and Cow exercise is an excellent alternative back stretch. 

#5 Sit-Backs

Sit-backs are excellent for strengthening your core muscles, increasing spinal flexibility, and improving circulation. They’re also an excellent choice for senior citizens who can’t sit down or stand up:

  • You need a firm surface to do this exercise, for example, on the ground.
  • Sit with your legs bent and back straight. 
  • Cross your arms over your chest. 
  • Lean back, using your abdominal muscle. 
  • Go as far as you’re comfortable. Don’t forget to keep your back straight.
  • Return to the initial position and repeat.

#6 Knee-to-Chest Raise

The knee-to-chest raise seems simple, but it’s highly effective for stretching your back and hip muscles. It’s suitable for improving body flexibility, range of motion, and abdominal support:

  • Assume the starting position – lie on the ground with legs bent and feet flat. 
  • Bring your left knee toward your chest.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Lower your left foot and repeat the movement with the right one. 
  • Don’t do this exercise if you have a hip injury.

#7 Hip Extensions

Point-knee hip stretches are beneficial for hips and lower back muscles. They can strengthen the pelvis, reduce pain, and improve your mobility:

  • Get on all fours on a yoga mat.
  • Lift your left leg and extend it as far as comfortable. 
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • Watch this video for a demonstration.

#8 Thomas Stretch

If you have lower back pain, you should try the Thomas back stretch for seniors. It’s beneficial for increasing flexibility, improving mobility, and relieving lower back aches:

  • Lie on your back on your bed and let your right foot hang out off the side.
  • Slowly bring your left leg towards your chest.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and return to the neutral starting position.
  • Switch the legs – let your left foot hang off the side of the bed and bring the right one towards your chest. 
  • Repeat ten times for each leg.
  • Watch this video for a demonstration.

#9 Rotation Stretch for the Lower Back

If you’re having problems with lower back pain, you can try this simple rotation stretch to reduce muscle tension: 

  • Get on your back and bend your legs. Keep your feet flat on the floor. 
  • Allow your bent knees to fall to one side slowly. 
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds and return to the original position.
  • Repeat with the other side. 
  • Do it 2-3 times every morning and every evening. 

#10 Seated Low Back Stretch

A seated low-back stretch is great for increasing flexibility, reducing tension in the low-back muscles, and improving one’s range of motion. It’s also an easy exercise that doesn’t require too much effort:

  • Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Slowly bend forward until your hands reach the floor. 
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds.
  • Return to the initial position and repeat. 
  • Watch this video for a demonstration.

Now, I have a couple more tips for doing these back stretches for seniors to ensure maximum results. 

Back Stretches for Seniors

You need to do back stretches on a regular basis, or they won’t have the desired effect. So, here are a couple of tips to help you with your stretching routine: 

  • Stretching early in the morning is best to increase blood flow, relax your muscle, and prepare your body for the day. 
  • Do some light exercises to warm up your muscles. You can also opt for a warm bath to relax your tensed body.
  • Start slowly with simple exercises before you try more complicated stretches. 
  • It’s vital to breathe properly during stretching. Shallow breaths don’t allow oxygen to reach your muscles, which is bad for your entire body. 
  • Hold the stretching position for about 30 seconds. Release immediately if you feel any sharp discomfort. 
  • Avoid high-impact activities if you have back pain, spinal degeneration, or other lumbar conditions.
  • Consult a specialist if you experience severe pain. 


1. How can I loosen a tight lower back?

You can try simple stretches for the lower back to reduce the tension. Some yoga poses are also beneficial for loosening a tight lower back. 

2. What is the most common cause of back pain in the elderly?

Osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, and spinal stenosis are the most common cause of back pain in seniors. 

3. Should you stretch your lower back if it hurts?

You should do simple stretching exercises for your lower back to reduce the pain unless your doctor recommends you stay in bed. 


Back stretches for seniors are an excellent way to maintain spine health, reduce the risk of injuries, and stay active. And you don’t need to join a gym or buy expensive equipment to perform them. 

But you must do these back stretches daily to reap all the benefits. And you should talk to a specialist if you have any lumbar condition that prevents you from bending or twisting. 

What do you think about these 10 back stretches for seniors? Which one is the easiest for you? Share your thoughts in the comment section. 


1. The straw that broke the horse’s back: is lower back pain self-limiting in equestrians? [Internet]. Sports Injury Bulletin. [cited 2023 Aug 4]. Available from: https://www.sportsinjurybulletin.com/diagnose–treat/prevent/the-straw-that-broke-the-horses-back-is-lower-back-pain-self-limiting-in-equestrians

2. Team. How Can Poor Posture Result In Back Pain? [Internet]. American Pain Institute. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 7]. Available from: https://www.americanpain.org/how-can-poor-posture-result-in-back-pain/

3. Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry [Internet]. 2006;8:106. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

About Author

Grigorina discovered that writing is her vocation early in her school years. Since then, she's taken part in several literary contests. For the past three years, she's also been an ELS teacher, pouring her heart into showing children and adults how important English is for their future. She has a Bachelor's degree in Applied Linguistics, an ESL Teacher's degree, and a Master's degree in Accounting. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM. Read her LATEST POSTS. Learn more about her HERE.

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