Wright – Achieving a Strong, Functional and Sculpted Back
January 21, 2010
(Third in a Three-Part Series)
Last week’s column featured the bent over standing row targeting the middle back muscles which include the trapezius and latissimus dorsi. This week we will highlight an exercise for the lower back and core which includes, but is not limited to, the multifidus and erector spinae muscles. All of the exercises described are foundational back exercises which just about anyone may be able to perform. As always, please consult your physician prior to beginning any exercise program.
Primary Muscles Targeted – Multifidus and Erector Spinae. Functional and effective lower back exercises involve flexion/extension/hyperextension/lateral flexion and rotation of the spine. The Multifidus muscle lies deep to the Erector Spinae muscle group and works primarily as a stabilizer/rotator of the spine while the erector spinae muscle group is involved in flexion/extension/hyperextension/lateral flexion of the spine.
Stability Ball – Choose a stability ball from 55 to 65cm in size which may enable you to perform the exercise as described. A smaller ball has less surface area and might be more suitable for smaller individuals or those of various sizes that have existing adequate stability and spinal strength. The larger ball has more surface area and may be more suitable for larger individuals or those who are new to strengthening and stability work involving the spine and core.
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• With your back to a wall, begin kneeling by the wall placing the stability ball on the floor in front of you.
• You should be close enough to the wall so that your feet can contact an immovable baseboard behind you when in the kneeling position.
• Place the stability ball underneath your abdomen/pubic bone which should cause your legs to raise from the floor enough so your knees bend comfortably with your hands on the floor in front of the ball.
• Make certain that your shoulders are rotated back/down, away from the ears, the rib cage lifted, the navel is pulled toward the spine and the glutes are engaged throughout the exercise.
• Once you have secured the ball underneath your body, cross your arms over your chest (like “I Dream of Jeannie”) lowering your torso toward the floor. You should be able to lower the torso freely without feeling that your range of motion (i.e. ROM) is limited due to your position on the ball.
• If you feel that your ROM is limited, then reposition the ball so that you can move the torso freely.
• Inhale as you lower the torso over the ball toward the floor without moving your lower body.
• Exhale and lift the torso to full extension of the spine, not to hyperextension.
• The head, neck and shoulders should come along for the ride and not initiate the movement in either direction.
• Then, lower the torso back toward the floor over the ball. Be certain to lift/lower very slowly experiencing no discomfort or pain in the lower back at any time.
• Perform one set of 8-12 repetitions of this exercise two-three times per week.
Next week, we will feature effective methods of exercise analysis to ensure that an exercise is safe and effective for you.
Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Never Summer Fitness, LLC located in Grand Lake, Colorado. She can be reached at her website at http://www.neversummerfitness.com, her email at NSFGL@comcast.net and her blog at http://www.skyhidailynews.com