Hang out in any gym for an hour or so and you will see a lot of back extension. Lat pulls, barbell squats, cleans – extension, extension, extension. While this isn’t dangerous in and of itself, it is important to counter that uni-directional activity with some flexion. Yoga and general stretching is great to counter this, but sometimes you just need one stellar activity to do at the gym. Squatting activities are an excellent way to promote normal function of your diaphragm by turning off the parts of your back and pelvis that keep you tight. Give this move a try to inhibit your overworked back extensors by engaging your internal obliques and quadriceps:
Squatting Bar Reach – Video
1. Position yourself behind a door frame or place a bar on a stand at about hip level.
2. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and pointing straight ahead.
3. Round you back as you tuck your bottom under you.
4. Keep your weight through your heels and hold onto the bar as you slowly squat down, keeping your back rounded. Squat as much as you can without letting your heels come off the floor or your back extending.
5. Hold this position for 4-5 breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Attempt to fill or expand your upper back chest wall with air on each inhalation.
6. On final exhale, slowly stand up by pushing through your heels and keeping you back rounded.
7. Relax and repeat 4 more times.
Gym rats and weight lifters aren’t the only ones who might be too tight in the back extensors – this problem is common in runner’s, skiers, jumping athletes, and even your average joe who lacks core stability or if you know you have a intervertebral disc pathology. Please ease into this activity and do not push past the point of discomfort, as it can be a rather intense stretch. This exercise should not be performed if you are currently experiencing any chronic or acute back pain beyond tightness in the back. If either of these conditions sound like you, it is likely that a doctor or physical therapist could help to create a treatment plan to relieve your pain.