I am a physician, aged 59 years. I will take you through aerobic stretching exercises I perform every other day, helping me maintain muscular flexibility, strength, and relief and prevention of joint pain.
Prior to beginning the exercises, I offer a walk at 3.5 mph for 15 minutes or more. Returning to the workout area I sit on carpet with my knees bent, soles apposed, and head and arms brought in toward the feet, relaxed. I practice deep diaphragmatic breathing in this position at a slow rate, each respiration 8 seconds in, 15 sec. hold or longer, 8 sec. exhalation. I carry this out for 2 minutes at least.
I put on Stravinsky’s Firebird, fairly loud, and start the exercises. Most of pain I’ve experienced in life has been in my lower back. These exercises have help to control my pain:
First, I lie prone (on my back-Position1) and bend my knees 90o with feet (in comfortable socks or soft shoes) flat on the floor.
Pelvic Press. In position 1, I take a deep diaphragmatic breath and press the curve of the lumbar spine down firmly into the carpet a second, relax, then press again for a 20 count-beginners use a lower count, say 5, and evaluate later the effect. If at any time this action produces significant pain, stop and reevaluate.
Pelvic Rotation. Next, in position 1, with your arms stretched out straight on the floor, slightly abducted (up) at the shoulders, take a deep diaphragmatic breath, and slowly roll the knees to the left, toward the floor. Let pain guide you, stopping at that point, or continue to floor contact with your knees if no pain is experienced. You will experience a pulling, stretching sensation in your armpits, right rib cage, and hips.
Count “1.” Then roll the knees to the right, following the same order. “2.” Repeat as tolerated. I often notice that stiffness encountered in counts “1 through 3” disappears with repetitions through “20.”
Donkey Kicks. Position 1, raise your left shin and foot, making them horizontal or parallel with the floor. Work this extremity to and fro, pulling the knee back toward your head and then away. Do this slowly, keeping leg muscles contracting so as not to lose control. Alternate side to a count of “20” for each extremity.
Crunch. Position 1. Fold your arms across your chest, take in a large deep diaphragmatic breath, causing the belly to swell, then drive your upper body toward your knees, exhaling the “belly air” as you make a “crunch.” If this causes significant pain, back off. Gradually by separate workouts, increasing repetitions to “20.”
Position 2. Roll over to attain a “crawling” posture, head looking forward, trunk supported by straight arms and bent knees.
Sway Back, Cat Back. In position 2, inhale greatly into the diaphragm, causing the belly mass to draw down the abdomen and back. Do is slowly, pause briefly, then exhale fully, causing an arching of the lumbar spine upward, in the fashion of a startled cat. Stop for significant pain, though I find this exercise almost always restorative. I do “20.”
Push-Ups. Beginners do “Bent Knee Push-Ups” in position 2, bowing the arms to allow chin movement toward the floor, working up to “20.” Experts at full body push-ups might still be wary of any back pain, others wise all eventually may accomplish “20”, though I persist in 20 full body, ½ arm bent forms.
Reverse Donkey Kicks. Position 2, face forward, slowly, with controlled movement push the left foot and lower leg back, without a violent kicking motion, to full extension, then withdraw toward the belly-20 count each side.
These exercises strengthen many muscle groups on the body, especially those supporting and guiding the back (rectus abdominus, paraspinous muscles, oblique abdominal muscles, pelvic musculature, iliopsoas). I do these exercises every 2 days, and walk 2 to 4 miles daily.
Not only before, but walking after these exercises is helpful. Additionally I support an isometric, isotonic, aerobic set of exercises to be reported in another article.
References: Cecil: Textbook of Internal Medicine. Exercise. 1979:p1070.