When in Rome:
Strengthen your back and get rid of low back pain for good.
People are constantly asking me what exercises they can do to get rid of their back pain. There is an often overlooked yet valuable tool in the corner of almost every gym in America. The “roman chair” is an exercise that I almost always see being performed incorrectly at the gym. The Roman chair itself can be a fantastic solution to eliminate your low or mid back pain. A roman chair is designed to strengthen the core, especially the glutes (butt muscles), and lumbar erectors. Strengthening these muscles can help relieve chronic back pain in the matter of just a few weeks. Correctly performing back extensions can be the catalyst that helps you “get over your back pain hump” (this exercise can also put a “hump in your back” if you are going to audition for a rap video in the near future). The most basic exercise performed on the roman chair is the back hyper-extension, even in name you can imagine that this exercise can be bad for you. The pictures for today’s blog post were taken at 24 hour fitness in Southlake Texas, about 2 miles from my Chiropractic office in Grapevine.
So how do you do you do this correctly?
1) Adjust the thigh pad to the proper height, about 3 inches below the belt buckle. Thanks to Scott for being a very enthusiastic “fitness model”.
Some roman chairs allow you to adjust the angle of the roman chair itself, the more vertical the chair, the easier the exercise.
2) For beginners, cross your arms on your chest as if you were going down a waterslide.
3) Keeping your spine straight, slowly lower your chest toward the floor.
4) When you have flexed forward approximately 90 degrees, squeeze with your glute muscles (yes the roman chair should be working your butt as much, if not more than your back) and slowly raise back to a neutral position.
The first mistake I see gym patrons do is holding a weight during the roman chair. The spinal extensors are designed to hold you upright, not lift weight. Hint’s the cliché, “lift with your legs, not with your back”.
The second mistake I see is people curling the trunk forward. There should be no flexion of the trunk while you lean forward over the chair. Keep your spine in a line. Imagine that your head, chest and tummy are tied to a straight pole. They should not lose this alignment throughout the exercise.
This “rounding” of the spine is a No-No.
-Britton A. Taylor, DC
“To keep you at your best, for the rest of your life.”
Taylor Chiropractic Center