Strengthening your back is as important as strengthening your running legs.
The stronger your back is, the stronger your run becomes. This is a training imperative, so your back muscles don’t fatigue faster on the run.
These exercises will give you a more upright position and a stronger core, and are beneficial for running long and short distances.
Upper back exercises pull your back muscles resulting in a stronger chest. This makes you look more confident and also gives a good upright running posture. We use our lower back by twisting, bending, flexing and rotating. Even sitting continuously stresses your lower back, and a strong lower back is not only essential for your running, but also for your daily movement. Lastly, back muscles are important, too, and when targeted overall, it increases your metabolism. When neglected, it may create muscle imbalance (chest being stronger than the back), thus creating higher chances of injuries. Besides, who would want to pass a chance to look sexy when flexing their upper back?
FACT OF THE MONTH
A lot of back exercises can strengthen the spinal column and the supporting muscles, ligaments and tendons, but these focus not only on the back, but also abdominal, gluteus and hip muscles. Together, these ‘core muscles’ make it easier to perform any athletic movement and provide back pain relief.
Benefits of Strength Training
Some athletes do a regimented training of base building, then moving on to the flat intervals or hill intervals, which can be quite demanding on your joints and muscles. Some skip the base training and jump into the intervals due to peer pressure or the desire to be stronger and faster.
One of the ways to avoid joint injuries is to incorporate strength training in your running program. As you may know, strength training is advised to anyone who is injured and sent to a physiotherapist, among other methods.
Even though strength training may help you to eliminate joint injuries, it is best to follow a good running program that builds good running base, helping your muscular and joint adaptation to training.
Bent-Over Shoulder Raise
Although this works your rear shoulders more, it does work the upper back too, depending on how you activate it. Standing at shoulder width apart, with slight bend on the knees and elbows, lean forward as comfortable as you can. Holding any light weights, raise them slowly for 2 second, parallel to your shoulders and not beyond, while squeezing your shoulder blades on the top position and lower it for 3 seconds.
Lying Down Lower Back Extension
Lying face down with your arms beside you or under your chin, raise your body slowly to the count of 3 seconds as high as it’s comfortable, breathing out while raising and lower it down slowly for 3 seconds. Imagine your lower back is raising your upper body.
DON’T jerk up in a sudden move. Do as many reps as you can. If you feel a slight strain on the lower back, stop. Start with 3 sets and build up to more reps in the future as your lower back gets stronger.
TIP OF THE MONTH
For those who are susceptible to low back pain, it’s good to stretch the hamstrings twice a day to minimize low back stress.
Lying face down with both arms straight in front. Raise your left arm and right leg slowly for 3 seconds, then lower at 3 seconds. Do with the opposite hand and leg. Take your time and don’t rush when doing this. Breathe out while raising and in while lowering.
Superman on Knees and Hands
Same as lying flat on the ground, this requires balance and works your core more. Make sure the back is flat while executing this.
Standing Lower Back Extension
Imagine taking something off the floor the wrong way, BUT with a flattened back, and knees slightly bent. It’s NOT necessary to go all the way down. Pick up something and raise yourself up while breathing out. Do just as many as you can, until your back feels a slight strain, then stop. On a side view, you may imagine that your hips/lower back is a hinge of a door that rotates the body.
Common Error: Avoid slouched back, locked knees, fast movement, and reaching all the way down for beginners.
Lie down as shown in the picture and raise your hips slowly. Hold it for a second or so, then lower it slowly. This works the butt muscle, too. Avoid raising too high.
Founder of Mission Fit
Kannan Murugasan is a Personal Fitness Trainer with 16 years of experience and has accomplished 10 Ironman and 2 Ultraman Canada.