By Crystal Manjarres
Q. I sit at a computer all day and my back has been starting to bother me. What are some exercises I can do to strengthen my back?
A. Sitting (especially for prolonged periods of time), is one of the worst positions for the spine. Why? Because it compresses the spine and can lead to back pain over time. Not to fear, there are many beneficial exercises that can treat, alleviate, and strengthen the back. Without getting into the anatomy and physiology of the proper anatomical terms of muscles, insertions, origins, and actions (which would take me a lot longer than the space I have to write,)
I will address a few simple exercises for you. If you have no medical/joint issues that would interfere with exercising and you have a knowledgeable trainer monitoring you, you should be able to execute the following exercises without any problems. If you are weight training, you can use an exercise band to either stand on (and hinge forward) to do reverse flyes, or you can wrap it around a solid object (like a pole) to do standing rear delt flyes. You can use dumbbells and lay on a ball or bench to do rear delt flyes as well, or you can use machines, such as the lat pull down; just make sure to vary the grip (wide grip, narrow grip, reverse grip) as you advance.
One of my favorite options is utilizing the cable crossover machine; the options are endless! You can do double rows, single rows, close grip rows, wide grip and much more. All of these options can also be done with dumbbells. Another great idea is Pilates. There are several mat, reformer, and cadillac exercises that are excellent for strengthening the back muscles. Mat work exercises consist of the breast stroke prep (or full), swimming, swan dive, saw, etc. Reformer and cadillac exercises are: back rowing preps, arms pulling straps, swan dive, breast stroke, legs pulling straps, etc. As you can see the possibilities are infinite!
You must make sure that you know how to execute the exercises properly, and that you are doing them appropriate to your goals. If you always do a bunch of back exercises randomly, inconsistently, or incorrectly, you will not obtain the desired goals you intended and could even face injury.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@101FIT.com. She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com and (239) 333-5771.