Put your back into it – back workout

With regular back training (back exercises, spinal exercises) the strength and mobility of the back can be maintained and improved, and the back muscles strengthened. With the help of various back exercises, incorrect posture and back pain can be avoided or reduced. Read everything you need to know about back training, how you can strengthen your back with various exercises and what the possible risks of training are.

back workout

What is back training?

Strong and healthy back muscles are important for an upright posture. It supports and holds the entire body like a stable corset and relieves the spine and intervertebral discs. Active back training includes various exercises to strengthen the back muscles and to relieve and prevent back pain. Complex and diverse exercises for the back make sense, since the back muscles are made up of around 150 large and small muscles, which are symmetrically connected with numerous ligaments and tendons, and which should all be trained in the same way.

When do you do back training?

Back training makes sense both as a prevention of back problems and diseases as well as for the rehabilitation of spinal column syndromes such as herniated discs, poor posture and after operations. The goals are to optimize the strength and condition of the back muscles, to increase coordination and to improve body awareness, so that it is possible to behave in a way that is easy on the back in everyday life.

The musculature of the spine is divided into three areas: an upper, a middle and a deep layer. The innermost layer, the deep or autochthonous muscles, is crucial for a healthy and pain-free back.

What do you do with back training?

With an individually adapted back training, you can train your back not only in an orthopaedic practice or clinic, but also in the gym or at home. There are different exercises that can be used to achieve different goals.

For example, you can train and improve the mobility of your back and joints with mobilization exercises. The exercises activate the production of synovial fluid (important for smooth joint movements) and stimulate the joint metabolism. A simple mobilization exercise for the shoulders, for example, is shoulder circles, with particular emphasis on pulling the shoulders back and down. Mobilization exercises can also be carried out to warm up at the beginning of the training session or as a relaxation break (e.g., at work).

Stretching exercises are also suitable for warming up: This relaxes the back and abdominal muscles and keeps them flexible.

Other exercises you can do while training your back include coordination exercises and exercises to improve posture control. With targeted strengthening exercises, the various back and abdominal muscles can be strengthened so that they can provide better support for the back.

In addition to exercises for back training without equipment, such as the shoulder circles mentioned above, there are also exercises in which aids and equipment such as exercise balls, rubber bands, dumbbells or a rowing machine are used. An experienced therapist or sports doctor can create an individual training plan for you.

Rotating, balancing and vibration exercises are good for deep muscle training because these muscles do not respond adequately to normal strength training. A simple exercise is, for example, the one-legged stand – on solid ground or – for advanced users – on a balance cushion.

What are the risks of back training?

Exercises such as back training usually pose no risk if they are done cleanly and correctly. Otherwise, injuries may result. Therefore, let yourself be instructed by a doctor or physiotherapist at the beginning of the training. The specialist can also tell you whether you should avoid certain exercises, for example due to previous illnesses.

What do I have to consider when doing back training?

The most important thing is the regularity and proper execution of the exercises.

Back problems such as pain and tension are a common problem during pregnancy: as the belly grows, the body’s centre of gravity shifts forward, which puts a strain on the back. With the right back training, the symptoms can be alleviated. However, pregnant women should discuss the training with a doctor or physiotherapist beforehand.

Recent operations, serious cardiovascular diseases, acute herniated discs, or malformations of the spine require special care in spinal exercises: exercises for the back may then not be carried out at all or only to a limited extent. Patients should therefore always discuss back training with their doctor first. If you feel unsafe about your back workout or the workout is causing you pain, you should talk to your doctor or physical therapist.

A worrying trend

Health insurers in the UAE are seeing a worrying trend when it comes to the number of people with no congenital or hereditary back problems who are suffering, particularly men aged between 35 and 50 years old. The sedentary lifestyle in the region with long hours sitting at desks, using the car to go everywhere to someone seemingly available to do everything for you from parking your car, packing and carrying shopping bags, pumping petrol, and even changing a lightbulb only compounds the problems. It is ironic that the luxurious, 5-star pampered, lifestyles enjoyed by residents in the GCC could be bad for us in that we work and exercise our backs very little. It is therefore more important than ever that people in this region make an extra effort to exercise their backs, and importantly with regularity and proper execution of the exercises.