Kinesiology of Exercise

Back Raise

The back raise, in which the muscles are strengthened in dynamic movement, has been used very successfully by athletes and non-athletes in the treatment and
prevention of back problems. In addition, it has enabled better sports skill execution.

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.

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.

Exercise Analysis

  • 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. 
  • 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.
  • Even more importantly, if you keep your legs straight throughout the entire execution of this exercise, it is impossible to arch (hyperextend) your spine excessively. In the arching that occurs, the muscles are responsible for the action and they hold the spine in place to prevent injury.
  • When you execute the back raise, it is extremely important to have your pelvic girdle situated on the seat of the Glute-Ham-Back machine. Your navel should be in line with the far front edge of the seat. Beware of the Roman chair or hyperextension benches that are often used for execution of the so-called back raise mainly because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to assume the
    correct position on them.
  • In this exercise, keep in mind that when your feet are in place, your pelvis is on the seat. For most people, this is not possible when they use a Roman chair or many other Glute ham machines. In both of these pieces of equipment the length of the machine cannot be adjusted to properly position the pelvis. When using the Roman chair it is necessary to place the calves under the leg (foot) retainers, which causes pain in the muscles. 


Want to Learn More?

Try our premium ebooks in the kinesiology of exercise. Satisfaction guaranteed.