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Exercises Movements, technique & proper execution

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Old 04-06-2007, 11:43 AM   #1
Matt DeMinico
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I was talking to the physical therapist I've been seeing today (she's REALLY good at what she does), and I mentioned the back extension, and she said "why do you do that?" I wasn't quite sure, besides it's in the CFW, and she mentioned that it's not a functional movement. It may have other benefits, but I wasn't sure.

But I know that CF really does only functional movements, not just some muscle building movement, so what exactly is the functionality and benefit of doing back extensions? She said that the soreness and bruising I had been feeling between in my back is because doing back extensions is stressing L4 and L5, and that's right where she said the pain was. It felt as if the spine was bruised when she pushed on it.
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Old 04-06-2007, 05:21 PM   #2
Daniel Schmieding
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I've done "back" exercises my whole life, growing up with gymnastics. Granted, I never knew they were back exercises, as they were usually part of some ridiculous string of stressing body movements. Regardless, I rarely do back extensions, arch rocks, good mornings (never), etc.

I injured my back when I was 14; muscle spasms (diagnosed as "severe muscle tension) put an end to my competitive gymnastics and made me sit out a year from track/field. This wasn't due to some fall or specific incident, and I wasn't lacking flexibility. There was just a ton of stress placed daily on my lower back. I had one doctor tell me that I needed stronger supporting muscles in my stomach. I had an 8-pack at 14... so I don't really think that was the issue.

I'm fairly certain a large percentage of lower back injuries are treated incorrectly. Most people think they need to put more muscle on or "strengthen" their lower back. Let's go do back extensions! For some people, this is true. But I think, with all the heavy lifting, bad posture, and athletes out there, most people are dealing with too much tight muscle in the back there, not too little.

Exercises like back extensions, etc appeal to a lot of trainers because it seems to balance out all the stomach training. You want to work opposing muscle groups, right? I think it's a great rehabilitation exercise if it's needed, but as a functional movement, I think it probably does more harm than good in a lot of cases.
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Old 04-07-2007, 10:02 AM   #3
John Harshman
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You'll find PT's/chiropractors who like back extensions and some that don't...and they all have reasons why. As for function, I think it's functional even though there are probably better functional exercises. If performed on the glute bridge it pulls in all the posterior chain muscles and is closed chain. To me that's pretty functional.

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Old 04-07-2007, 04:08 PM   #4
Garrett Smith
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If you're getting soreness and bruising in your low back, I think you have bigger issues than the back extension.

Sub some easy Romanian deadlifts in for the back extensions. It's got the functionality and the hip extension / isometric back muscle involvement that the warmup is going for.
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Old 04-07-2007, 07:12 PM   #5
Lincoln Brigham
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There's a difference between spinal extensions and hip extensions. Many "back extension" exercises don't extend the spine at all; they hold the spine in a static and relatively neutral position while the hip joint does the actually extending. The back extends as a unit, not segmentally. A true "back extension" exercise would take the spine from flexion to extension.
So when you talk to a physical therapist, the term "back extension" may mean something different than when a gym rat uses the same term. Most PTs probably wouldn't advise putting any segment of the spine under a big load through the full range of motion, but a heavy load in a neutral spine position is relatively safe.
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