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Hey LisaMarie

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I recently read (don't recall where) that back extension machines, such as Nautilus, put way too much pressure on the lumbar spine. Have you read or heard that? I like to use them, good form and fairly low weight...always makes my back feel good and loose.

What about back extensions w/o weights, either from one of those chair type contraptions or on the big ball?
post #2 of 17
Interesting question, Ruler. Exercises that may be great for some people might be deadly for others. In the case of the Nautilus back extension, if someone was already extremely lodotic, the machine may be givining them more extension than they need. Many people are much stronger in their back muscles than in their abdominals. So if the back extension was done with too much weight, the imbalance would be magnified.

The key words you used were "good form." In many cases, form, as opposed to the actual exercise, is what determines safety. If someone does not have severe back injuries, the ball and back extension can be good exercises. Core muscles should be engaged, neck and shoulders relaxed.

An aside: Twist Conditioning in Vancouver BC. has found that many of their teenage ski racers are already incurring back surgery. The reason: excessive tucking has brought about too much flexion, which can compress the discs just as much as hyper extension. Post rehab, they treat their athletes with extension exercise.

post #3 of 17

How come you are not using your old Lisamarie signon?

post #4 of 17
I kept getting an "incorrect password" error message. When I requested a password email, it never came. Rather than bug you,it was easier to just re-register.
post #5 of 17
Try the request password again. I fixed the mailer early this week.

post #6 of 17
I'll be darned! My old password now works!!!
post #7 of 17
Hey, Lisa, I've got a related question for you. The past few years I have been battling a stiff lower back and in the hip area. Despite much effort to stretch out the hamstrings and back, my lower back remains vulnerable. The stiffness (and sometimes pain) comes and goes, some great days and sometimes not so good days. Someone mentioned that it was because I do so much cycling, and combined with skiing a lot of bumps, I end up with overdeveloped quads and a muscular imbalance. The beginning of all this mess came a few years ago when I attended some god forsaken ski patrol TE clinic where the guy decided it was macho cool fun to see how long and well we could hold a braking wedge down a double black ice pitch. My hips and back have never been the same thereafter.

Your thoughts? And what can I do to make it all go away?

post #8 of 17
While its hard to diagnose in cyberspace, my intuition tells me that its your hip flexors, not your hamstrings, that may be the culprit. Tight hip flexors cause something called reciprocal inhibition with the gluteals. The hip flexors over work, which means that glutes under work. The hamstrings end up doing what the glutes are supposed to be doing.

But as you pointed out, you may already have a muscle imbalance which makes your quads stronger than your hamstrings. When the quads are overly strong, the hamstrings are weak. So weak hamstrings are doing the job of what the gluteals should be doing. As a result, they hurt.

So you stretch them, right?

Well, not exactly. Stretching can actually weaken a muscle in some cases, which can perpetuate the problem. Are you still with me? Good!

So, we have weak hamstrings doing the job of a weak butt, and over working quads and hip flexors that are probably pulling the lumbar region into too much extension. Back muscles love to work too hard. In your case, it sounds like your back muscles are compensating for other muscular imbalances.

Your first step would be to get to a good PT. As far as stretching goes,do a search in this forum for "foam rollers," hip flexor stretches," and "quad stretches."

Good Luck!
post #9 of 17
my two cents: i never much liked the lower back "machine" - just didn't feel right - but do use the bench-like station that has your ankles secured while you extend the back, bringing up the torso from the lowered (relaxed) position, with maybe a weight held to the chest to add resistance, or not.
i also do deadlifts, focusing on impeccable form throughout the movement; never anything forced or herky-jerky. (the hamstrings also get hit.)

beginning to add my lower back to my workouts has been one of the better things i've done. the core is strengthened and it balances the abdominal work (the other great thing i finally started doing).

important, obviously, to focus on form here; not much weight is required to do the job, and anytime you can use your own weight as resistance, all the better.

also, rul, as you're biking, you'll find the stronger lower back increases the time you can stay on the saddle.
post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by ryan
my two cents: i never much liked the lower back "machine" - just didn't feel right - but do use the bench-like station that has your ankles secured while you extend the back, bringing up the torso from the lowered (relaxed) position, with maybe a weight held to the chest to add resistance, or not.
AH! The 'Good Morning!' machine. I love that one. I have questions related to that exercise and LM's earlier posts:

- If I do alternates (abdominals/back extensions, say) with comparable loads (to within, say 10%), is that a reasonable policy to avoid some of the imbalances LM speaks of, or is there a desirable offset. 20% more weight on the back extensions, say.

- Ryan (or others) how much hamstring work do you do to complement the gluteal and back extension? At what loads?

post #11 of 17
Because I spend a LOT of time on the bike, which really highlights the quads, I do hamstring curls pretty much soon as I get off the bike and stretch a bit. I'll put enough weight on to put out maybe 12-15 reps, then add a bit of weight each successive set. (I do four.) And one day a week, it's just leg weights, when I'll add more weight, so that, after a thorough warmup, my first set's 10 reps or so, adding weight each set (five of 'em). By the last set, I'm getting maybe four reps, sometimes three.
Followed by stretch, warm water (jacuzzi or bath), then more stretching. Bike time keeps my hammies pretty tight - and I don't drink enough water.

Right now, almost three months removed from a partial MCL tear, I'm all about the bike. I did some ham curls the other day, very light weights, but decided I need more healing before I get back into anything resembling serious leg weight workouts.
post #12 of 17
by the way, i tend to pay closer attention to pure "feel," as opposed to giving too much thought to weight percentages. if you know one part's weak, that's the part to focus on. i'm all for science and exactitudes but at the same time, "the body knows."sometimes it is made more (much more) complicated than it has to be.
post #13 of 17
better to take the time, know where YOU are, play with this and that - make the gym time enjoyable if you can; it really helps - and discover your workout. too many people, i think, emulate what others are doing, which doesn't always yield the best results.

bottom line: work up to what you want. beats starting with too much and getting discouraged, or worse, hurt.
post #14 of 17
Message understood, Ryan, thanks.

Running the risk of beating this to death, is there something that would reasonably trigger and work the entire muscle chain in concert? I am envisioning a super-Superman, (kegel and ankle weights?) but that's just a parody of what I ask of.
post #15 of 17
seriously, climb a good hill.
post #16 of 17
So much of what determines the safety and effectiveness of fitness equipment depends upon how well the equipment's dimensions corresponds to your own leg to torso ratio. This can be the reason that you may often hear so many different opinions on any given exercise device. While most equipment is adjustable, sometimes the way to actually make the adjustment is counter intuitive.

One of the best exercises involving the entire kinetic chain is the stability ball hamstring curl. This site shows a good example of the exercise, with some good technical cuing.
post #17 of 17
I'm gonna have to start trying those things. There's a large area at my gym set aside pretty much for that stuff, and everyone seems happy with the feel and results.
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