Back exercises should be performed not only when pursuing a V-shaped body. With strong back muscles, you will not slouch and will be able to perform other exercises more effectively. But what if you suffer a back injury? Should you stop working out or find a safe physical activity to keep sculpting your back muscles and restore their functionality?
Back muscles. What can go wrong?
Analogically to other muscle groups, back muscles can be divided into deep muscles (with the most important representative of the group being the spinal erector) and superficial muscles (spinohumeral muscles and spinocostal muscles).
Back injuries are usually caused by improperly performed exercises, which can be as dangerous as lack of physical activity. This is why you should always make sure that you use the proper technique when exercising. Observations show that if you perform strength exercises with additional weights improperly, you risk developing lower back injuries. The majority of lower back injuries are caused by improper body position in exercises for big muscle groups (slouching), which is particularly dangerous when lifting heavy weights.
Exercises that are good for the spine
Most exercises should be performed with the back straight, with several exceptions. Failure to adhere to the rules governing individual exercises can be dangerous. Only when you learn the proper technique can you increase the intensity of working out. The majority of back exercises also involve abdominal muscles.
If you feel lower back pain, do not do back exercises with weights in the vertical axis of the spine, such as, for instance, standing barbell shoulder press or barbell press behind neck. What is recommended is seating barbell press with back support. Remember to set the bench support at the right angle to safely rest your spine on. If done standing, the exercise will force an unstable body position, making it impossible for you to raise the barbell along the proper track without straining the spine.
Lower back pain
If you suffer from lower back pain, do not do intense or demanding back exercises, like deep squats. Instead, choose 45 degree leg presses. In this exercise, there will be no pressure on your spine. Another option is the narrow hack squats, which will partially reduce pressure on your back muscles. You may also want to try kneel-downs or walking lunges with dumbbells or a barbell. These exercises involve the same muscles as squats, but as the pressure is on one leg only, the force acting on the spine is much weaker.
What is also not recommended for lower back pain is bent over exercises, like bent over row or bent over dumbbell lateral raise. You can replace these with incline bench dumbbell row or one-arm dumbbell row with hands and knees supported against the bench.
Preliminary muscle fatigue method
According to the preliminary muscle fatigue method, you should start with exercises that cause fatigue of the selected muscle part. This means that you can do a series of isolated (single-joint) exercises, followed by series of compound exercises. For instance: you can start your workout with a machine exercise, to cause preliminary fatigue of the quadriceps muscles of your thighs, and then switch to a series of squats, forcing the previously trained muscles to work hard, but with bigger submissiveness. The pressure that will be exerted on your thigh muscles during squats will have a smaller impact on the spine than if you start with a series of squats, and your lower back will ache less.
Seek medical advice
Even a high dose of caution when doing spine exercises may turn out to be not enough. If need be, seek medical advice. The doctor will diagnose the problem and recommend proper rehabilitation. Your rule number one for working out should be: “safety first”.