Regular exercise is essential for physical and mental health, especially after age 50. However, some exercises can harm your back or other body parts if done incorrectly or too often. To ensure safety while exercising at this age, be aware of these exercise habits that can damage your back after 50 and what you can do to avoid them.
Running on Hard Surfaces Without Proper Cushioning
Running on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt can be jarring to the spine and cause undue stress, pain, and injuries. To reduce your risk of injury, run on softer ground like grass or dirt paths. If you must run on hard surfaces, use proper cushioning in the form of specialized shoes or inserts.
Squatting With Poor Form
Squatting is a great way to strengthen your legs and core, but poor form can lead to lower back pain. Keep your feet flat on the floor when squatting, and don’t let them turn inward or outward. Your knees should stay in line with your toes. Keep your chest up and back straight as you descend into the squat, and don’t let your knees pass over your toes.
Lifting Too Much Weight
Lifting heavy weights can strain your back, especially if you’re over 50. Start with lighter weights and gradually increase as you gain strength and confidence in your abilities. Never lift more than what you can comfortably handle. If necessary, ask for help from a spotter to ensure you stay safe during heavy lifting exercises.
Skipping Warm-Ups and Stretches
Warm-ups and stretches are essential for preparing the body for physical activity. You’re more likely to experience pain or injury during exercise without them. Spend a few minutes before each workout doing dynamic stretching exercises like arm circles, leg swings, and side lunges. This practice will help your muscles prepare for the work ahead of them and reduce the risk of injury.
Focusing Solely on Abdominal Exercises
Your core muscles consist of more than just your abs. Your lower back, obliques, and hip flexors are also part of a strong core. Doing too many abdominal exercises without attention to these other areas can cause tightness and pain in the lower back. Incorporate plank variations, bird dogs, and supermans into your routine to engage all the core muscles.
Doing Too Much Cardio at Once
While cardio exercises can be great for the heart, doing too much of it too quickly can take a toll on your back. Take breaks and alternate between high-impact activities like running and low-impact exercises like cycling or swimming to give your back time to recover.
Lifting With Your Back Instead of Your Legs
Lifting with your back instead of your legs puts unnecessary strain on the spine. When lifting an object, bend at the knees and use your leg muscles to do most of the work as you stand up. Avoid bending over and using solely your back muscles to lift objects.
Doing Too Many Repetitions
It’s easy to get carried away when doing sets of exercises. While more reps can bring faster results, they can also cause fatigue and pain in your back if you do too many at once. Stick with the recommended number of repetitions for each exercise to avoid putting too much strain on your spine.
Not Getting Enough Exercise
Inactivity can be just as damaging to the back as overexertion. Not getting enough exercise weakens the muscles in your back, leading to pain and instability over time. Incorporate strength training, stretching, and aerobic exercises into your routine for optimal spine health.
Ignoring Pain Signals
Your body is smart and will let you know if something isn’t right. Pay attention to any twinges of pain or discomfort in your back while exercising, as this could be a sign that something needs to be adjusted. Listen to your body and modify your exercises if necessary.
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