Program Overview

Part I

Core Stretching for Flexibility

Core Stabilization

Core Muscle Strengthening

Part II


Part III

Body Mechanics

Part I is the program’s core, figuratively and literally. Through a regular routine of stretching, stabilizing, and strengthening your core muscles, you support the three natural curves of your spine: upper (cervical), middle (thoracic), and lower (lumbar). With a strong and flexible spine, you’re less prone to injury and pain.

Part II supplements your back workout with aerobic exercise. Any activity that boosts your oxygen use and increases your heart rate is aerobic. Examples of good aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and cross-country skiing. In this program, we’ll focus on walking.

Part III looks at ways to keep your stretched, strengthened, and stabilized back in balance while you move. The focus is on maintaining good posture while you stand, walk, sleep, sit, and lift.

Program Schedule

The exercises in Better Boomer Backs are introduced gradually over 2 months. During the first week (actually 8 days), you’ll learn and practice one to two new stretches each day. During the 3 weeks of core stabilization and 1 month of core strengthening, you’ll learn and practice one to two new exercises each week. During the entire 2 months, you’ll also be working on your posture and exercising aerobically.

Make the exercises in Better Boomer Backs a regular part of your weekly routine. Ease into them gently, never going beyond your range of comfort. You aren’t in a competition or a race. Over time, you can gradually increase the number of repetitions you do, how far you stretch a muscle, the distance you walk. Keep your back pain free for the long haul.

When to Exercise

The time you devote to Better Boomer Backs will gradually increase during the program as more of the exercises are introduced. During the 2-month program, if time is an issue, you can spread the exercises out during the day.

For example, you could do your stretching in the morning, your stabilizing exercises in the afternoon, and your strength workout in the evening. Each of these could be 10-15 minutes long.

After you’ve completed the 2-month-long program, you can modify your schedule to better suit your personal needs. During the 2 months, you will have learned a lot about your back and the exercises that do it the most good.

For example, you can up the number of repetitions and sets of exercises that you feel are doing you the most good. If certain exercises aren’t benefitting you as much, try cutting back on their numbers. It’s your body, nobody knows it better than you. Pay attention to it, making adjustments to your routine whenever you feel the need.

For best results, do one set of stretching, stabilizing, and strengthening routines at least 3-5 times a week.

A Note About Graphics

Most of the exercises in Better Boomer Backs are accompanied by optional illustrations of the human body (“optional” because you don’t need them for the program to work). A lousy artist, I used two public domain illustrations of the human body from the 1918 edition of Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray.

I use these illustrations to highlight the muscles stretched and strengthened during each exercise. One image shows the front of a human body, the other the back. Muscles are labeled to the side of each image, arrows pointing to their general location on the images.

“General location” because some of the muscles (labeled as “internal”) lie beneath others and can’t be seen on the images. Some muscles may run the full length of the stomach (for example, the Rectus abdominis) or the back (for example, the Erector spinae), but you’d never know that from looking at the illustration.

The next two illustrations provide a simple key to the images in Better Boomer Backs.

To attone for my imprecise graphics, I want to alert you to a fabulous online program that sets the picture straight. Zygote Body does what I couldn’t: it shows all the muscles as you’d see them in a 3-dimensional, transparent body. To find individual muscles, simply type their name in the upper righthand search field of Zygote Body.

Truth to tell, I couldn’t name or identify any of the muscles till I started putting Better Boomer Backs together. The exercises had been working for me, my back felt good, I didn’t need to know the anatomical details. But identifying the individual muscles has since given me a better feel for what I’m doing and how my body works.

Again, you don’t need to pay attention to the illustrations for Better Boomer Backs to work. But if you’re curious, the illustrations are here for you to explore.