Extension

Most of the exercises in this chapter have focused on the muscles of your upper and middle back, but we've yet to get to the erector spinae muscles of your lower back. Strengthening those muscles is crucial in ensuring proper posture and in the prevention of lower back pain. Considering that the majority of people experience lower back pain at some time in their lives, it's not a bad idea to do whatever's possible to decrease your chances of being a statistic.

The back extension machine is an effective way to work those muscles. While they vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, most will have a seat belt-like mechanism to help hold you in place. Use it!

Here is how you properly perform a back extension:

1. Begin in the forward-most position allowed by the machine.

2. Using the muscles of your lower back, press against the roller pad.

3. Pause at the fully extended position and slowly return to the starting position.

Back extension start/finish position. Back extension midrange position.

The following is a list of don'ts:

> Push with your legs.

> Throw your head back.

The following is a list of do's:

> Keep your head in a neutral position.

> Control the weight in both directions.

The Least You Need to Know

Our back is our physical foundation.

Lats give athletes that seductive swooping V-shape.

Out of sight shouldn't mean out of mind. Many people neglect their back muscles in favor of the muscles on the front of their body.

Strengthening your lower back may help prevent chronic pain.

J

Chapter 17

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