No Pain, All Gain

Back pain is something that most gym goers will suffer from at some stage or another, either through developing muscle imbalances or performing an exercise with too much weight and improper form. To avoid spending long periods of time away from training it’s important to try and prevent back pain before it occurs, as it can cause discomfort for long periods of time depending on the severity of it. Using these simple tips will help you to prevent unnecessary injury as well as help to de-stress you and improve your flexibility.  Stretch  Developing your flexibility is an easy way to increase the range of movement a muscle has. By doing this you are giving it further to travel before it begins to strain and tear. Muscles aren’t just isolated around the body; the impact of tight muscles in one place can directly affect the movement and tightness of another body part. This is particularly true with overworked hamstrings that can cause lower back pain if not adequately flexible, and is a common issue for those who sit down all day at work. To increase your flexibility you should aim to perform static stretches after every workout. If aiming to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and maintain current flexibility then 15 seconds is long enough. However, if you want to develop it you should hold static stretches for 30 seconds, whilst increasing the stretch itself further after the first 15 seconds. This helps with progressively developing the muscle without shocking it and causing it to momentarily contract and strain.  Pick up Weights Another way to prevent back pain is to pick up and place down weights correctly. When lifting try to use a deadlifting technique, pushing through the heels and keeping the abdominal muscles strong and tense whilst you lift. This will make your mid-section solid and will stop it from hyperextending and flexing, which is a major cause of muscle pulls. Also try to keep the weight close to your body, as the further away it gets the more your lower back will overwork to stabilise you.  Develop Core The core doesn’t just consist of the abdominals, there is much more to it than that. It encompasses the upper and lower abdominals, the lower back and the obliques. Each of these areas needs to be trained either with a dedicated core workout a couple of times a week, or by incorporating large […]

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A Solid Back for Bodybuilding

Protecting your back is essential when training for a bodybuilding competition. The back consists of multiple muscles that work together to provide stability for the upper portion of the body, which is clearly of utmost importance when dealing with heavy weights. Whilst a trip to a chiropractor will certainly help you to overcome any injuries, prevention is always better than cure. To avoid any prolonged periods away from training, follow these simple tips to gain a stronger core, more stable base and improved posture. Work the Spine The deep, local muscles located at various points along the spine, such as the erector spinae are essential for core stability and strength. The erector spinae are a collection of smaller muscles that support the lower back, and are often missed out of training regimes because people don’t always realise the importance of them. It’s imperative that you develop these muscles to avoid lower back pain, a common issue today particularly because many people work in offices with minimal back support.  Simple exercises such as the dorsal raise are perfect, allowing you to train safely on the floor using a mat. Alternatively you can use the back-machine station to increase your range of movement and add additional weight. Try to control your body and avoid extreme hyperextension, which can actually cause pain and discomfort.  If you find that you don’t have the time to work the lower back by itself due to time restraints, then use exercises such as deadlifts, bent-over barbell rows and kettlebell swings during your gym session. These will naturally use the lower back enough to give it a really solid workout and help it to work in conjunction with the muscles surrounding it in a functional way.  Feet for Thought Despite being located half a body’s length away, your feet and footwear play a major role in the overall health of your back. If you’re lifting heavy weights then you need to focus on maintaining your centre of gravity to avoid any sudden jerks that could cause you to tear or strain muscles. Dedicated weight lifting shoes are perfect for this as they contain slightly raised solid heels, often made of wood. This encourages you to push through the heel when doing exercises like squats, and naturally causes the back to adopt the correct posture.  The core itself consists of more than just six pack abs. Make sure you work everything […]

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