Spine health for over 50’s

Things have changed over the last 50 years when it comes to aging. Here are some statistics:

Average life expectancy of Australians1:

  • Males: Increased from 68 to 80 years of age
  • Females: Increased from 74 to 84 years of age1

Within that same period, the proportion of the population over 50 years of age has increased by over 270%1.

What can be deduced from these statistics is that we are now spending more time living in our senior years. This presents the issue of quality of life, and the question: “in what condition do I want to spend my retirement years?” After working a lifetime, it seems obvious that we should live life the way we always wanted: travelling, relaxing, and enjoying good food and company. A common barrier to this well-earned reward is an ailment that affects many people: persistent back pain.

Back pain can be categorised into:

  • Acute: The result of a specific incident (i.e. car accident); or
  • Chronic: A condition that can persist for months or even years; often the result of an acute injury that has not been rehabilitated correctly

Both types of back pain can result in weakening of the supporting muscles around the spine, which can subsequently be the source of persistent pain.

The key to reducing pain in the lower back can be achieved through:

  1. Measuring the functional capacity of the lower back through isolation of the weakened supporting muscles around the spine; and
  2. Improving strength and endurance of those muscles2,3.

Participation in an exercise program with specific medical exercise equipment supervised by Physiotherapists and Exercise Physiologists, allows re-education and reconditioning of the postural muscles that support the spine. This will gradually improve the condition of the lower back and reduce the risk of re-injury2.

Paul Marshall
Accredited Exercise Physiologist


1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2014) Australian historical population statistics (Catalogue No. 3105.0.65.001) Retrieved from http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/3105.0.65.0012014
2. Choi BKL, Verbeek JH, Tam WWS, Jiang JY. Exercises for prevention of reoccurrences of low-back pain. Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews 2010, Issue 1. Art. No.:CD00655. DOI: 10. 1002/14651858.CD006555.pub2
3. Hides JA, Jull GA, Richardson CA. Long-term effects of specific, stabilizing exercises for first-episode low back pain. Spine 2011; 26(11):E243-8.
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7. Knowler WC, Barret-Conner E, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, Lachin JM, Walker EA, and Nathan DM. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 Diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med 2002:346(6):393-403
8. Corcos DM, Robichaud JA, David FJ, Leurgans SE, Vaillancourt DE, Poon C, Rafferty MR, Kohrt WM, Comella CL. A two-year randomized controlled trial of progressive resistance exercises for Parkinson’s Disease. Movement Disorders, 2013, 28(9), 1230-1240.
9. Lunde A. 2008. Preventing Alzheimer’s: Exercise still best bet.