Avoid Back Pain, The Best Exercises for a Strong Back

Your back is an integral part of the core, the place from which most of your movement starts. Your core is the powerhouse of your body yet the muscles are often neglected during training. Back pain is a common complaint among our clients and often the source is weak back muscles. You can prevent annoying aches and pains by building up your back muscles.

Here are some simple targeted strength exercises can prevent back pain or chronic injury.

1. Barbell Deadlift
What It Does: This is one of the best exercises for working your back top to bottom, strengthening the entire posterior chain.

How to Do It: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and with a loaded barbell in front of you. The bar should be close to your shins. Bend at your hips and knees, grabbing the bar with an overhand grip, just wider than shoulder width. Straighten your legs as you drive through your heels and raise the bar up along your shins and past your knees. Stand tall, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement. Reverse to start.

Form over function. Start with just a bar adding weight when you feel you can maintain your posture throughout the exercise. Try to maintain a neutral spine throughout your deadlift—excessive rounding under a heavy load can cause pain or herniation. Start with five reps and work your way up to five sets of five reps.

2. Neutral Grip Pull-Ups
What It Does: This exercise works the most prominent muscles in your back, including your lats, traps, and biceps.

How to Do It: On a parallel pull-up bar (one with two bars parallel to each other), grab one bar with each hand so your palms are facing each other. Hang with arms fully extended. Pull yourself up by engaging through your lat muscles (squeeze your shoulder blades). Pause at the top and slowly lower.

Most gyms have an assisted pull up machine where you knee on a platform and select a counter weight to assist in your pull. This is a great place to start. Subtract weight as you get stronger while maintain form. Your ultimate goal is to be able to do five reps, or more, without assistance.

3. Seated Machine Row
What It Does: Also called a cable row this exercise engages all parts of your back as you move through the rowing motion.

How to Do It: On a seated row machine, sit and grab the handles with your palms facing in. Pull back on the handles, keeping your elbows close to your body and bringing them back past your torso, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Aim for a neutral spine and an upright torso. If you find yourself shrugging your shoulders, lighten the load a bit. You goal is three sets of 15 reps

4. Machine Back Extensions
What It Does: A great way to isolate your lower back, this move develops the muscles that run along and support the spine, the paraspinal erectors and the quadrates lumborum. This exercise should be paired with abdominal crunches for maximum effect.

How to Do It: Think of this like a reverse crunch. On a back extension machine, sit, grab the handles, and place your feet on the footrest. Maintaining a neutral spine, push backward slowly extend your hips to straighten the torso. Return to start with control. Your goal is four sets of ten reps.

5. Single-Arm Bench-Supported Dumbbell Row
What It Does: This exercises strengthens your shoulders and back. It is also a unilateral exercise. An exercise that work a single side of the body which is key for balancing out any asymmetries that may exist.

How to Do It: Hold a dumbbell in your hand, palm facing in. Using a bench, place your knee on the center of the bench with the opposite foot on the floor. Place your other hand on the bench. Maintain a flat back and keep your elbow close to your side as you row the dumbbell up past your torso.

Start with your monodominant side, then perform the same rep scheme on your dominant side to avoid perpetuating any imbalance. Start with 10 reps on each side and work your way up to 3 sets each side.

6. Straight-Arm Pull-Downs
What It Does: This move isolates the shoulders and sides of the back while also hitting your triceps.

How to Do It: Using an adjustable cable machine or a set of resistance bands with handles attached to a fixed point, grab onto the handles with an overhand grip, arms shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. With straight arms, pull the bar down to your thighs. Perform this single-joint exercise at the end of your back workout, when you’re tired from multi-joint exercises. Goal is to complete three sets of 15 reps.

Performing these exercises 1-2x a week can help you develop and maintain a strong core and back, preventing many chronic issues and aches and pains. Did you try these exercises? Tell us how they work for you. #bodysoulsalem.com

Body & Soul Massage in Salem Ma offers Therapeutic Massage for Pain Relief. For more information about how regular Massage can benefit your strength and agility call 978-825-0040 or visit our website at www.bodysoulsalem.com