Major Muscles and Actions Involved

In back raises, the erector spinae and the deep back muscles are involved in extension-hyperextension. In this action the trunk is raised to the horizontal or slightly above horizontal position from an inverted vertical hanging position.

Muscles in Action

Back Raise

Sports Uses

The erector spinae muscle is very important in most sports, even though it may not directly participate in moving the spine in extension or hyperextension. It must be strong enough to hold the vertebrae (spine) in place and rigid when you execute many skills, especially those involved in lifting. For example, the erectors are most important in keeping the spine in lordosis during the squat, good morning, and deadlift exercises.

Important Facts to Know

  1. When you do this exercise, it is important to have your spine rounded before you begin the upward extension movement. This will stretch the muscles and provide for a stronger contraction. It will also allow for a good stretch of the spine when the vertebrae and discs are pulled apart from a compressed state. Thus, when you rise up, you develop the muscles through a full range of motion. This is especially important in rehabilitation.
  2. Back raises, and even hyperextensions, have been criticized as being dangerous because of the arching of the spine. However, it is important to understand that the arched position is normal - a healthy, strong spine is arched (neutral position) in the lumbar area. Problems occur only when the arching is excessive without muscle control, or when your spine is kept in a flexed position most of the time.