Question - do you spend as much time working on your back as you do on your biceps, chest, abs, or legs? If the answer is yes, well done you! If no, then you might want to pay your back some more attention. If you continually strengthen those muscles on the front of your torso and neglect your back, it could result in uneven muscle distribution which, could affect your posture and leave you stooped over or hunched up.
Your back is an important area to spend some time on. You can think of it like the frame where everything else hangs from! It is made up of multiple muscles from the upper back down to the lower back. There are therefore different exercises which can help each area. There are also deeper and shallower muscles groups to focus on. Here is a snapshot of the major muscles on your back:
- Upper & Lower Trapezius - from the base of your skull & thoracic vertebrae around towards clavicle & scapula at the front (collar bone), (helps elevate and depress your shoulders).
- Rhomboids - beneath trapezius starting at the upper thoracic vertebrae and finishing at the scapula (helps retract your shoulders).
- Teres Major & Minor - part of the shoulder girdle starting at the scapula and ending at the humerus. They are quite small muscles at the sides of the upper back..
- Latissiumus Dorsi - covers the sides or your back starting at the lower thoracic vertebrae and covers down to lumbar vertebrae & ilium right around to your upper arms (humerus). These are the muscles that are referred to as 'lats' and give the 'v-shape' which look like wings! They help with the adduction and extension of your shoulders.
- Thorocolumbar Fascia - a triangular/diamond shaped muscle covering your lumbar region where some people have dimples.
- Erector Spinae - these muscles cover each side of your spine connecting at the sacrum, illium, ribs and vertebrae. They are long thin strips of muscle. They help with the extension and lateral flexion of your spine.
The muscles in your back support your whole body because it gives stability to your spine which is intricate and flexible in certain places. These muscles are therefore very important to help prevent over exertion or injury when you put your body in certain positions during everyday activities, sport and exercise, but it also has an impact on your stance and posture as you move around. Especially when today, many of us have office-bound jobs where we are constantly bent over a computer, it's important to give 'back' (lol) some love to your body! As mentioned above, these are just a few examples of the surface muscles which are present in the back. There are also deeper muscles situated closer to the vertebrae column which cannot be seen but stabilise the back. The multifidus muscle is a good example of one that is not visible so neglected in training but crucial to stabilising the back during movement. It is therefore important to carry out core stability exercises which penetrate the deeper core muscles e.g. planks and exercises on unstable bosu balls for example, which help strengthen these invisible helpers!
We will give you a couple of example exercises below which you will hopefully enjoy doing and will result in a varied and balanced back workout incorporating some of the main muscles outlined above. As always, please consult a medical practitioner before embarking on an exercise programme to ensure it is right for your individual needs and especially if you have back trouble. For step-by-step guidance on all of these exercises, please consult our instagram page where you can find all of them plus many more free exercise tips to help strengthen your body.
Happy working out fitfam, we've always got your back! Read our fitness blog for more hints & tips.