The Back Row Exercise Will Improve Your Posture and Relieve Back Pain

7 minute read

Do you suffer from back pain? If so, you’re not alone. The World Health Organization says low back pain is the leading cause of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world. Back pain can be a secondary symptom of other illnesses, or it can be the primary condition. Either way, the effects can range from discomfort to a severe drop in quality of life and chronic depression.

The good news is there are some ways you can strengthen your back muscles, improve your posture, and work to alleviate your pain. The following exercise isn’t for everyone because each person’s limitations are different, but if you’re able to do it, try doing it regularly to support your back.

Back Row Exercise for Back Pain Relief

The exercise is called a back row, but it becomes a compound exercise by doing the back row in a lunge position. Not only does this feel like a natural way to do this exercise, but it adds a little strength training to your gluteus maximus, or your backside, your hamstrings, and your calf muscles. 

You can also get a little core strengthening, depending on how you position your feet. If you keep your feet narrow, side to side, in the lunge, your core has to work harder to maintain your balance. If that is difficult for you, widen your stance, and it will disperse your weight over a larger area. You won’t get the core strengthening, but it will help you feel more stable and prevent a fall.

To Do the Back Row:

♦ Place your left leg in front and your right behind you in a comfortable lunge.

♦ Hold the weight in your right hand, so it’s hanging straight down by your side.

♦ Place your left hand on your left thigh for back support.

♦ Press your right hand down, straight from your shoulder toward your front foot, pushing the weight downward.

♦ While pushing the weight down, bend both knees a little bit. Make sure when you bend your knees that you’re not leaning out over your front leg, you want your knee to stay above your ankle.

♦ Then extend your legs straight, and pull the weight up toward your armpit. Your elbow will bend up toward the ceiling, so keep it close to the body, no “chicken wings.”

That is one rep. Do as many reps as you’re comfortable with. 10 is a good starting place

Then switch sides and do a set on the other side. The goal is to do three sets of reps. 

The Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training is an excellent way to naturally alleviate your pain and prevent future pain. When you begin strength training, you want to exhaust the muscle within a minute or two. Overworking it can cause damage, but doing exercises that don’t work the muscles hard enough won’t be efficient. 

One quick way to determine exhaustion is if you can still hold good form. If you’re shaking or have to adjust your position, then you’ve lost form and should stop.

If you’re wondering how often to do your exercises, an article in Harvard Health Publishing suggests that your major muscle groups, like your back, need strengthening exercises at least twice a week. This is in line with the current national guidelines.

Support Good Posture to Relieve Back Pain

The back row doesn’t just help strengthen your back and improve flexibility, it’s also an excellent way to support good posture. 

In our modern world, where many people spend hours a day hunched over a computer, posture has become even more important. Slouching and hunching add strain to your muscles and puts stress on your spine. 

An article in Spine Health notes that the stress of poor posture can change anatomical characteristics of the spine, which can constrict blood vessels, nerves, and lead to problems with muscles, discs, and joints. 

While exercise will help you strengthen your back, you need to then transfer that strength into a habit of standing and sitting straight. You can identify your own good back posture by drawing an imaginary line straight down from your earlobe, through the shoulder, hip, knee, and into the middle of your ankle. If the line is straight, then your posture is good.

In addition to doing your exercises to strengthen your back, you also need to check in with your posture and make any adjustments, so you’re giving your spine the support it needs throughout the day. It might help to ask someone else to observe your posture to help you initially get an idea of what good posture feels like.

| Related: Easy Ways to Improve Your Posture at Work |

What If You Have Back Pain Now?

While the above tips for relieving back pain and strengthening your back are great, the idea of exercising might seem out of the question if you're currently suffering from back pain. The truth is that exercise is exactly what you need. 

Moving the spine is the best way to help those muscles relax and increase blood flow to the area. While you might be in such pain that doing an exercise with weight is out of the question, perhaps trying the movements without a weight would be more comfortable. 

Everyday Health has an article with recommendations on how to properly exercise with back pain. Listening to your body is crucial as you need to be aware of your current limitations, but don’t let that be an excuse to avoid exercise. 

If you feel moving is totally out of the question, it’s time for professional medical advice and a prescribed treatment plan.

The Bottom Line

Back pain is a common and chronic problem around the globe. The reasons for back pain are varied, as are the levels of pain. One of the best ways you can alleviate back pain or avoid it entirely is to strengthen your back muscles and support good posture.

A simple back row exercise performed every other day for a few minutes is a great way to begin strengthening your back. Done in a lunge position, the move can work to improve flexibility and core strength as well. While working to muscle exhaustion is the goal, this exercise does not require a long, sweaty trip to the gym. 

In addition to working on muscle strength, focusing on what good posture feels and looks like throughout the day will help you. Learning to make corrections in your posture will become second nature, and will help you stay strong and pain-free.

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