3 Best Lower Back Strengthening Exercises For People Age 50+

Looking For Lower Back Strengthening Exercises To Ease Back Pain?

Learn the best lower back strengthening exercises to help people over the age of 50 relieve back pain.

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Do Lower Back Strengthening Exercises REALLY Help Back Pain?

There's a common misconception that by strengthening your lower back muscles, it'll help your lower back pain.

However, for many middle-aged to older adults, actually the reverse is true.

A lot of people with chronic lower back pain have back muscles that are in spasm all the time, hence causing their pain.

That said, getting your core stronger - particularly your abdominal muscles, your glutes, and multifidus - can be helpful to relieve lower back pain.

In this post, I'll cover 3 strengthening exercises to help people over 50 relieve lower back pain:

  1. Standing Pelvic Tilt
  2. Deadlift
  3. Standing bird dog

Lower Back Strengthening Exercise 1:
The Standing Pelvic Tilt

One of the most common exercises that people do to strengthen their abdominals is called a pelvic tilt.

pelvic tilt exercise for lower back pain and abdominal strengthening

However, if you have trouble getting down on the floor, then the traditional laying down pelvic tilt may not be optimal for you.

Furthermore, it doesn't necessarily translate into having better function when you're standing and walking.

And let's face it...

Standing and walking are typically the times when back pain is worse for most people over the age of 50.

To improve your lower back pain when you're standing and walking, it is helpful to strengthen your abdominal muscles by doing a pelvic tilt while standing.

In order to do that, start with your knees slightly bent.

You don't need to be in a deep squat, but you probably will find it a little bit easier if you unlock your knees.

Next, roll your pelvis under you.

lower back strengthening exercise 1: standing pelvic tilt

Tighten your abdominal muscles and also tighten your buttock muscles at the same time.

Hold that position for at least 10 seconds.

Now the goal is ultimately that this isn't going to be an "exercise" per se that you do 5 times or 10 times or 20 times for 5 seconds or 10 seconds or 20 seconds.

Eventually you want to get to where you can do that pelvic tilt at a low level throughout the day.

It's particularly important to do this exercise when you're standing and walking.

When you stand in an arch like this with your lower back arched, it jams the joints in your lower back together.

facet joints

Standing with your back too arched can also cause you to pinch nerves, particularly if you have degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis.

So learning to gently hold that pelvic tilt position throughout the day can help people over 50 relieve back pain.

You don't want to bear down and do it as hard as you can or your muscles are going to tire out quickly.

Instead, just do a gentle, easy pelvic tilt that you could hold for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or however long you're going to be standing.

So that's exercise number one: the standing pelvic tilt.

Lower Back Strengthening Exercise 2:
The Deadlift

Exercise number two is probably the most controversial of all the exercises, and that's a deadlift.

There are many people who think you should never do deadlifts if you have back pain.

Or people may say you should never do deadlifts if you're a senior.

But deadlifts are a great functional strengthening exercise for people of all ages.

If you ever pick anything up off the ground -  say a grandchild, a dog, a cat, or a package on your front porch - then you're doing a version of a deadlift.

That's not to say you have to throw hundreds of pounds on a bar and do deadlifts.

Doing a light deadlift is a great way to improve the strength of your glutes, lower back muscles, and your abdominal muscles all at the same time.

If you're just a beginner, start with very light weights or even no weight.

For example, you can just use a dowel rod.

lower back strengthening exercise 2: the deadlift

To start the exercise, push your hips back, lowering the weight down, keeping a straight back.

The weight should stay close to your body as shown above.

Next, squeeze your bottom muscles, and push your hips back underneath of you while pushing your heels down into the floor.

Your spine should stay fairly straight as you lift the weight back up.

lower back strengthening exercise 2: the deadlift

Notice that there's actually very little spinal movement during this exercise.

Most of the movement is taking place at your hips.

So again, you push your hips back, weight on the heels. Squeeze your glutes and contract your abdominal muscles at the same time.

Then push the hips back underneath of you to stand back up.

Remember to start with light weight or a dowel rod. Then progress to heavier weights as you get stronger.

If you use the proper amount of weight and the correct technique, deadlifts are a great lower back strengthening exercise.

Lower Back Strengthening Exercise 3:
The Standing Bird Dog

Strengthening exercise number three is a modified bird dog.

In the traditional bird dog exercise, you get on the ground and raise one arm and the opposite leg at the same time.

bird dog exercise for lower back pain

However, there are a few problems with this for many seniors:

  1. not being able to get down on the floor
  2. having knee pain from kneeling on their knees while they're doing the exercise

To avoid these problems you can do a modified version of the bird dog exercise in standing.

This is a good exercise to strengthen your glute muscles, as well as the small multifidi muscles, which control the rotation in your lower back.

Multifidus muscle

You probably do want to have something to hold on to because this does take a little bit of coordination.

Just like the bird dog on the floor involves raising on arm and the opposite leg, you want to do that same thing as you're standing.

Hold on with one hand and have the other hand free.

Stand with your weight on the leg of the free hand, and raise your free arm and the opposite leg.

For example: left arm, right leg.

standing bird dog exercise for lower back pain

Hold for 5-10 seconds.

Lower your arm and leg and repeat 10 repetitions on one side before switching to the other side.


So those were the top 3 lower back strengthening exercises for people age 50 and above.

To review, those were:

  1. Standing Pelvic Tilt
  2. Deadlift
  3. Standing bird dog

By doing these exercises daily, or at least a few times per week, you can help prevent or alleviate back pain.

Need More Help For Lower Back Pain?

If you live in the St. Louis area and you'd like to find a faster solution to your lower back pain than just doing exercises, we'd be happy to help you here at More 4 Life.

Our physical therapist are board-certified specialists and fellowship-trained orthopedic manual physical therapists.

We combine hands-on treatment along with exercise to get you feeling better faster.

Just tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.

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