Author Topic: Back exercises  (Read 16911 times)

Offline yrone

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Back exercises
« on: February 03, 2011, 02:30:31 PM »
Everyone always harps on and on about working thier chest and arms and abs. Thats great and all but I want to get to a more balanced stature. Too many pushups cant be a good thing. I am at the computer all day and have lately been having upper middle back problems. Between the shoulder blades. From picking up my 30lb toddler awkwardly and such I guess. Any back muscle exercises I can do that have been helpful for strengthening that area of the back?

Offline mike77

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2011, 09:45:04 PM »
I can't recommend any exercises, but I will say when my back feels that way it seems to be from tight muscles more than weakness. I typically just work my arms around in various motions to loosen it up, maybe throw in a heat pack and self massage. Also laying on a firm (not hard) ball like a handball or racket ball and rolling around can help loosen up knots. A chiropractor helps a lot also.

Offline A Pirate

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2011, 06:18:36 AM »
I used to have a ton of back pain, but I currently sleep on the floor (I am poor) and that has gotten rid of my back pain. While I do not recommend sleeping on the floor you may want to get a firmer bed. Also pull-ups and back bridges are good for your back, and do not forget to stretch.

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2011, 08:27:07 AM »
"Back pain" is a very general description. There are about a dozen different causes for the exact same type of pain in the back. Your best bet is to see your general practitioner. If you go to a sports medicine place or a specialist, they always recommend surgery, which isn't needed 90% of the time.  Barring spinal injury or genetic malformation (which is very common and often left undiagnosed) I wouldn't recommend it, even if your doctor does.  If you go to a chiropractor, it's like playing russian roulette, but with worse odds. Most are hacks who will recommend regular visits and their own "holistic approach to pain manegement".  You don't want it managed, you want it gone. Just go to your GP, he may order an MRI. No decisions about treatment should be made until you have an MRI. Eliminate the possability of actual injury or heriditary problems first, then once those are off the table consider exercise.  If you have any irregularity in the spine, exercise can aggrivate it and force you down the surgical path, which you want to avoid. It most likily is muscle pain, but be sure before making any decisions.

I don't know what your weight is, but I can say from experience, dropping just 30lbs took me from chronic pain to none at all.

You say you're at the computer all day, get a better chair.  You don't need an expensive ergonomic chair, just a low stool with no back that keeps your knees slightly elevated.  That forces you to sit upright instead of leaning back. That will help a lot once you get used to it. Position your monitor so it's straight in front of you, rather than to the side. The bottom of the screen should be level with your chin. You don't want your neck bent down to see it. This makes a noticable difference.

Also take breaks every hour or so and stretch. 

A firm mattress can definately help a lot.  It's difficult if you share a bed. Women typically don't weigh as much as a man in relation to the surface area of their body, thus needing less support, so they can be uncomfortable on a firm mattress.  You can just buy two twin size matresses, and put them in the same frame with a 1" foam pad over the top of them to cover the gap between them. It's a lot cheaper than buying custom made mattresses or gimmicks like the sleep number bed. Get used to sleeping on your back, not your side. That was a hard habit for me to break, but it helps a lot.

The quality and duration of your sleep is equally or more important than the mattress. If you over sleep regularly (8-10 hours) you'll have a variety of back and joint pains. If you get less than 7 hours sleep, you can develop muscle aches and tension in the back, shoulders, and legs. If you sleep a lot, try to get in a quick nap after work, before dinner, 1 hour of sleep mid day can shave 3 hours of sleep off during the night.  If you sleep to little, reduce caffeine consumption eat earlier in the day and try to get more exercise.

Here's a link I've found useful:
http://backpainphysicaltherapy.net/back-pain-exercises-2/




As I said, talk to your doctor first.  I know every exercise program says to talk to your doctor, and it's usually bullshit, just people covering their asses. But if there is another underlaying problem you're not aware of, you can really mess up your back, which disrupts your life in ways you can't imagine.

Offline TraceA

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2011, 12:20:11 PM »
The importance of strengthening you're back muscles can't overstated.  Frequently (non traumatic) back pain comes from the anterior muscles being disproportionally stronger and out of balance with the opposing posterior muscles.  Each day we work at computers, drive, play video games, even carry backpacks that strengthen/tighten our anterior muscles: pectorals and anterior neck muscles.  That causes the opposing back muscles: rhomboids and posterior neck muscles--which are typically weaker, to be stretched & strained causing pain.  This also continues down to our hip flexers which tend to be strong/tight & our opposing low back which tends to be weak. 

So instead of doing pushups and chest work, concentrate instead on rows and lat pulldowns working the opposing back muscles instead.  If you don't have access to a gym, laying in bed, on your back, arms to side, palms up: roll/push your arms back into the bed, feeling the contraction between your shoulder blades (rhomboids, the opposing muscle of the pec minor), work up to 3 15 second contractions. 

We tend to view strength (appearance) by having a strong chest and arms, but in reality strength comes from having a strong core and back.

Good post from Insane_Libertarian_Wacko talking about both losing weight & the exercise diagrams

Offline kevo

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2011, 04:21:46 PM »
Stretching works great. Yoga works even better when done 2-3 times per week. Yoga will strengthen as well as stretch. Don't knock it until you try it... look for Ashtanga Yoga or Hatha Yoga. You'll be sweating in no time.

Offline TraceA

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2011, 05:44:05 PM »
Yoga is a great workout.  For years I'd done the traditional lifting weights & cardio.  Recently I have started yoga at my local gym & it is great for core, & back strength & of course flexibility.  There are classes for every level & they are supportive & protective of beginners.  Good suggestion kevo.

Offline I.L.W.

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2011, 08:43:42 PM »
Yoga is a great workout.  It gets a bad wrap from obese middle aged women in spandex doing it in public groups to awful music. We've all passed by Yoga studios, looked in the window and said "My god, what's wrong with the world we live in?". But at it's core, it's just like any other workout, a series of movements. Take away the perverse "hippie in a mid-life-crisis" culture, and it's actually a pretty tough physical regiment.  My Kendo instructor always worked us for an hour with basic yoga before we ever got to lay our hands on a shinai (that's a wooden sword for the uninitiated). While I could never see my self in a Yoga class, I have no problem with the practice.  I highly recommend it.

Offline yrone

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2011, 09:04:13 AM »
Thank you all so much for the posts!

I have talked with the doctor and we have ruled out any spinal injury, no numbness or tingling and he was jamming his thumbs all into my spine everywhere. No MRI yet as the pain has gone already. No doubt it will be back though after a few months.

I am only trying to lose the last 5 -10 lbs. I've lost 30 already and am in the best shape of my life actually. I work out vigorously and doing Hapkido with rolling and stretching seems to help a whole lot. The pain comes less often since starting this regime.

Core strength is where its at as stated!

I'm going to try a new mattress here in the near future, more back exercises and stretches and I hope some folks will find some good ideas for themselves in this post. Back pain aint pretty and its really common.

Offline smittymoo

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2011, 10:21:17 AM »
Something that happened to me is I loss a bunch of weight 50lbs and had back issues due to the change in my center of mass. I went to a massage therapist and after 3 or so sessions everything was straightened out. I now stretch and do many of the exercises that Insane's picture demonstrates.

Offline TraceA

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2011, 11:08:08 AM »
yrone- I'm glad to hear your back is doing better. But I disagree with your statement "No doubt it will be back though after a few months." You are on the right course: you've lost weight, working out (focus on BACK weight resistance exercises!), Hapkido, stretching, & core strength.  You're doing what you need to & I think if you continue you won't have any more back issues.  Back pain is avoidable & doesn't have to be part of your life (short of a traumatic injury).

One more note: when working your core/abs stay away from any ab exercises that involve having your legs bent at your hips (like a traditional situp position).  Despite what we've been told for years those exercises really only strengthen you're hip flexors which are probably already chronically tight & contribute to low back pain.

Offline nfoot

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2011, 03:10:40 PM »
I like to  use body weight for back things like chins recline press hyper extensions bridging but if you have a back problem best to speak to your doctor before undertaking any exercise program

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2011, 03:23:03 PM »
Ana Caban's Pilates: Beginning Mat Workout.  Very beginner oriented, not too hard, not too easy.

Ok, so she's hot, too. ;D  But seriously, it's a great core workout and only 25 minutes a day, three days a week and you'll feel a major difference within 2-3 weeks. 

Offline rogersorders

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2011, 08:46:06 PM »
I have pain in the same areas and it started to get worse when I went from an active job to a desk  >:(. If you have knots or trigger points in you back look into "myofascial pain" or "myofascial release" on google and youtube. I got an education on what was actually going on and how to fix it. I just started stretching using a foam tube and it has made a world of difference. I can actually get a decent night sleep now.

Offline ag2

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2011, 12:32:18 PM »
I do not want to recommend any particular exercises, but I will share my story because it sounds like you and I have a similar lifestyle.  I am in front of a 'puter all day long also (IT/Telecom nerd myself).  I was in mild to moderate pain for about four years.  I tried two chiropractors and two family doctors.  (The chiropractors got most (lots) of my money.)

I tend to be a bit stubborn.  My wife is an extremely intelligent person and an exercise physiologist.  (You would think I would have first listened to her.)  After four years of pain (occasionally temporarily debilitating), I humbled myself and asked her advice.  She took me to the gym and taught me how to do a proper crunch (NOT situp). I had always pulled with my legs, rather than using my abdomen muscles.  (Yes, I served about five years in the Navy and was never taught this.)  It took me about a week just to work up to doing ten proper crunches, and boy did my abs burn like fire.  She also had me do several other very mild exercises.  But she said that the goal is to strengthen the core, both the lower back and abs equally.  She said that my abdomen was so weak that my lower back was trying, but unable, to compensate.  That's why I would "throw my back out" so frequently.  I don't have washboard abs and do not need them.  I just needed a little bit of strength in my core.

After about about a month of moderate exercising just a few times a week, 90% of my pain was gone.  I no longer had to carefully stop to-to-heel off of a curb.  I no longer had to put my hand on my knees to support myself when lifting the toilet seat.  After about 3 months, I was 100% pain free and could sleep through the night.  A welcome relief after four years of constant pain.  I have been pain free for several years now.

Offline idelphic

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2011, 12:54:05 PM »
Quote
My wife is an extremely intelligent person and an exercise physiologist.  (You would think I would have first listened to her.)  After four years of pain (occasionally temporarily debilitating), I humbled myself and asked her advice.  She took me to the gym and taught me how to do a proper crunch (NOT situp)

AG - Do you think you could persuade you DW to share some resources on that?  I search YouTube / Google and found variations of the 'proper crunch'.

TIA

Offline Agmundr

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2011, 11:37:12 AM »
I hurt my back pretty badly working on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle in 2005.  I've noticed that when I go to the gym and regularly perform deadlifts (PROPER FORM) the recurring pain basically goes away.  Deadlifts work every muscle in your back, and you get the added benefit of working your core and grip muscles at the same time.  Highly recommended. 

Offline ag2

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2011, 10:37:11 PM »
AG - Do you think you could persuade you DW to share some resources on that?  I search YouTube / Google and found variations of the 'proper crunch'.

TIA

She will not give advice over the internet for liability reasons and I can understand  her concerns.  So I will share and describe what worked for me.
I layed on my back and brought my knees up and feet on the floor.
I crossed my arms to form an X until my hand were touching my shoulders.  This prevents me from pulling on the back of my head and neck (an old bad habit of mine).
Tighten the stomach/abs and lift the shoulders and a LITTLE bit of the upper back off the floor, while keeping the back as straight as possible.  (Try not to make your back/shoulders slouch like you are sitting/slouching at a desk)  How much you lift is not as important as your form.  If your thighs muscles tense up at all, lay back down, relax, then try again and again until you can tighten the abs without tensing the thigh muscles.  I had to practice for about 30 minutes before I could do it EVEN ONE TIME.  Out of habit and muscle memory, my leg muscles would try to pull my upper body up.  Years of bad form and tucking my toes under the couch developed this habit.  Even a few months later, I still noticed my old habits coming to the surface again.  Once I started doing them properly, my abs would BURN after only ten crunches.  That's how outta shape I was and I only weighed 185lbs at 6'0". 

My wife says it's bad on the back to come all the way up to touch the elbows to the knees.  She's an excercise physiologist ABD and she did what four other doctors could not do for me, so I have to believe her.

After a month of proper crunches, 90 of the pain was gone.  A couple more months and 100% recovered.  However, if I go a few months without doing them, the pain returns.

I don't know that I can help you much except to point out what I was doing wrong.  I hope this helps you.  I can sleep through the night these days.

Offline liftsboxes

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2011, 05:34:09 AM »
A simple exercise that really works for almost all your body is the yoga cycle called the Sun Salutation.  It stretches, works many of the same muscles as a push-up, and is just a great way to either start the day - or to loosen up after sitting at a desk.  No equipment necessary.



Plenty of demo videos on youtube as well.

Offline Nadja*isk*en*isk*ie

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2011, 03:30:56 AM »
I have pain in the same areas and it started to get worse when I went from an active job to a desk  >:(

I was having annoying, but minor, lower back problems for a while until I went from working at a sit down desk to a table that I can work at (computer) whilst standing. No more back pain and I lost some weight as a bonus.

Offline ericmyers1970

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2011, 12:02:41 PM »
Focus on Yoga based movements

Offline hal

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2011, 03:10:25 PM »
Hey guys, lot of good posts on this thread. As others have noted, yoga is very effective for rehabilitating weak or injured backs and improving posture. With regular practice of basic techniques like Down Dog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_dog) and the Sun Salutation (everybody should try this once,) your posture and general fitness will improve. You can easily teach yourself these poses off the internet for free.

If you want to progress to more advanced poses, I highly recommend picking up an introductory text like The Complete Idiot's Guide to Yoga Illustrated and work your way into the harder stuff like the Plough Pose, headstand and so forth. The headstand, often referred to as "The king of asanas," is a particularly rewarding pose to learn, as it has a powerful mood-improving effect and works many different muscles simultaneously, but particularly those in the core. I've worked up to half-hour sessions in the headstand that I do most days of the week, but according to the most well-known living teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar, five minutes is adequate. It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that a five-minute daily headstand will change your life.

There are a couple of pushup variations that are particularly good for strengthening the back: dive-bombers and Hindu pushups. Dive-bombers emphasize the upper body more, whereas Hindu pushups emphasize the core. Doing a nice, slow set of either, or both, is a powerful workout that is great for spinal flexibility.

Another exercise that is absolutely phenomenal for strengthening the lower back is the basic kettlebell swing. Two 15-minute sessions, twice a week, will give you iron glutes and spinal erectors, which together will more or less force you to sit and stand correctly. I cannot recommend this exercise highly enough. It will change the way you move and carry yourself in everyday life. It will also absolutely kick your ass the first few times, like burpees or 8-count bodybuilders, but swings are much gentler on your joints. If you're in semi-decent shape and just getting started with kettlebells, a 35-pounder is probably a good introductory weight. Cheers and good luck.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2011, 06:22:27 AM »
not sure if anyone has mentioned hiking or walking, but this can help tremendously.

 Also, maintain good posture, never sleep on you stomach and when lying on your back, put a pillow under your knees always

Offline hal

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2011, 03:39:58 AM »
Update here about the kettlebells. As I mentioned a few months back, I was a big proponent of high-rep kettlebell exercises and military-style PT.

Alas, the spirit is willing but I started to develop rotator cuff problems with the kettlebells and knee issues from doing burpees, so I switched exclusively to yoga, tai chi, bicycling and physical labor for my fitness regimen. I am particularly stoked about the Sun Salutation as a basic all-body calisthenic exercise, now that I've started to practice it on a daily basis. It's an effective and generalized strengthening and stretching tool that should be taught in elementary-level PE class, and practiced as a recuperative measure by people who do a lot of heavy physical labor. In my opinion, a great many injuries and ailments, especially of the back, could be mitigated or cured if it caught on in the general population.

Interestingly enough, my strength hasn't suffered at all from discarding the weights, and the chronic inflammation that invariably seemed to accompany the heavy exertion of my previous training habits is gone as well. I feel better and have more energy. Mind you, I still work hard, but I'm done with the "leave it all in the gym" philosophy. Henceforth, I will favor the tortoise over the hare with respect to physical fitness.

Offline JarKodiak

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Re: Back exercises
« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2012, 08:57:37 AM »
pull ups (overhand grip) do a good job of working the back in. Especially lats.  Plus if you ever have to pull yourself up something (wall, ledge, w/e) you're not likely to be able to use an underhand chin up grip.