Fitness Fact Or Fiction: Are Hyperextensions Bad For Your Back?
I’ll be honest, there are few exercises that make me cringe and afraid to watch people perform as much as hyperextensions. That said this movement is a great low back, glute and hamstring exercise. Yet many people still think they’re bad for your back.
So are they?
The short answer is no, of course hyperextensions are not bad for your back, no more than the bench press is bad for your shoulder joints. But HOW you perform the exercise can make the difference between reaping benefits and inviting injury.
Hyperextensions in essence work the muscles that take you from a flexed spine, as in the contracted position of a crunch, to spinal extension. The biggest issue I see with people performing this exercise, especially in a ‘Roman chair’ where you lock your feet in, is the use of weight for added resistance AND excessive momentum while performing the movement.
You’ve seen these people (or maybe you are one!) – who lean over slowly towards the floor, get a good stretch, sometimes even bounce in the bottom and then swing with all their might up to the top position – OVER extending their backs with ballistic force and just begging for a disk in their spines to “pop” or herniate.
I want you to imagine your spine as a series of washers stacked on top of one another with a donut between each to provide cushion and flex. Those donuts (disks) are filled with fluid and provide ‘give’ when the spine moves side-to-side and front to back. But now imagine cranking that stack of washers all the way back, or too far to the side with excessive force. What do you think will happen? In some cases the jelly like fluid inside the disk herniates out and causes pain, sometimes pushing on a nerve and causing severe discomfort, weakness or radiating lightning bolts in different areas.
The key to low back training, especially with hyperextensions is to move slowly and to only return to a straight back position or SLIGHTLY hyperextended. When you move slowly you’ll be much less likely to injure yourself and it’ll allow you to feel the exercise more effectively. I also suggest squeezing your glutes and hamstrings throughout the entire movement to really engage them. The low back erectors, like the upper back muscles, are usually very de-conditioned from day to day life. They certainly could use regular conditioning to help ensure spinal stability and postural alignment.
So be sure to perform low back exercises like the hyperextension, but be cautious, move slowly and feel the movement. In general I’d suggest 4 sets of 15–20 reps of this exercise at one time If you’re also including functional training in your regimes (like the FREE workouts on my YouTube channel) that’ll be plenty!
Fitness Fact Or Fiction – I say FICTION on this one! Hyperextensions are a worthwhile exercise – just perform them correctly!
All information contained within this site, Angry Trainer Fitness.com, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.
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about 1 year ago - 6 comments
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