Strengthen Your Lower Back
A strong back has long been admired and desired as the basis of power. The main concern of both athletes and non-athletes alike is lower back pain. One way to avoid or alleviate it is to strengthen all the muscles of your back, which hold together the vertebrae and ensure that the disks remain in place.
A major muscle group involved in extension movements is attached to the vertebrae is called the erector spinae. It consists the iliocostalis, multifidus, longissimus dorsi and semispinalis dorsi.
Keep in mind that the abdominal muscles, including the external obliques, are crucial for forward, bending movements of the spine.
There's probably no other area of the body more involved in major work and exercise on a regular basis than your back, and if you're going to build the rest of your body, you can't leave your back behind.
Kinesiology & Physiology
Be aware of the actions taking place. Do not do any quick or snapping movements, especially if they involve flexing or extending the lumbar spine. To avoid injury do back extensions slowly.
If you have back pain or a history of back trouble, get the go-ahead from your physician first.
- Warm up first. Break a light sweat with light exercise before stretching.
- Stretch. Gently. Stretching is not an Olympic event. Relax and stay comfortable and perform slow, fluid movements.
- Never bounce. This can irritate or tighten muscles further. When you reach the end point of motion, hold for 10-60 seconds.
- Breathe easy. Breathe gently (never hold your breath).
Back Extension AKA Back Raises
This is the most commonly used exercise for the back. Treat it as an important maintenance exercise. Its primary function is to prevent lower-back injuries as it strengthens and develops the spinal erectors.
There are several important points to keep in mind with this exercise. First, when you mount the hyper extension bench make sure your bellybutton is resting on the padded cushion, rather than above it. When your bellybutton is in front of the board, your glutes and hamstrings will start taking over the workload from those low back extensors. Secure your feet under the rear pads or have a partner hold them down.
Next, as you begin to lower your torso, do not keep you spine perfectly straight and rigid. Bending your spine will activate the low back much more directly. When you make your spine extra firm, you'll actually be bringing into play your hip muscles.
Also, there's no need to go to a 90-degree decline position. After 70 degrees of movement, the low back muscles are not working any more, so you can stop there and come up. When you go to that 90-degree position, there's a tendency for you to create bodily inertia and therefore swing back up. This will bypass the spinal erectors' involvement substantially.
This exercise is related to the deadlift. However, in this case you start in a standing position with a barbell across your shoulders as you would with a squat, but don't have anywhere near as much weight as you would for a squat.
You then lock your back in the lordotic position and lean forward from the hips until your trunk is parallel to the floor. You then rise up and return to the standing position. In this exercise the back remains in an isometric contraction. In essence, the upper body remains rigid while the axis is in the hip joint.
To do this exercise most effectively, you must have ample flexibility in the hip joint, to allow you to get into this position. When you pull up, however, there will be extremely high compression forces on the spine. Because of this, this exercise has been severely criticized. There are a lot of physical therapists who think you can trash a disc in your back by doing this exercise. If you do it very rapidly they're right; otherwise, when it's done in a controlled manner and slowly their fears are unfounded.
Good Morning Demonstration
Deadlifts are similar to squats, in that they are one of the three or four most valuable basic exercises. Along with squats and bench presses, deadlifts make up the three competitive powerlifts. Deadlifts place very strong stress on all of the back muscle groups, hip and thigh muscles and gripping muscles of the forearms. It's unexcelled for adding thickness, density and incredible strength to the lower back region.
In the correct execution of this exercise you must bend the knees, keep the back arched and bend over from the hips until your arms can reach the barbell. You then rise up, keeping the back firm, and use knee joint and hip joint extension. As your legs are reaching full extension, you should then add some additional hip joint extension to bring the body up into the erect standing position. There could also be some slight back arching. In this exercise the back remains under essentially an isometric contraction.
The most important part of the movement is the upward pull. As you begin to yank the bar off the floor, it is absolutely crucial to make sure that your back is straight and locked into place, while your head looks upward. This distributes equal stress over the entire length of the spine. If you round out or arch your back during the upward pull, your discs that lie between the vertebrae will experience unequal pressure. This can lead to back strain and, in some cases, even rupture a disk.
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