Protecting the Bodybuilders Spine

Injuries when strength training the larger back muscles, such as the rhomboids are common. In order to build strength and mass, bodybuilders use heavier weights in order to stimulate maximum growth and size. Whilst free weights are better for developing muscle synergy they carry with them a greater risk of injury, as unlike resistance machines they rely on stabilising muscle groups such as the shoulder girdle to support them. Following these basic tips will help to protect your spine and allow you to develop upper and lower back strength with minimal risk.


Spine mobilisation should be incorporated into any training regime and performed prior to the pulse raising exercises. Try standing upright and gently twist the torso right and left with arms held up in alignment with the shoulders. Follow this with some lateral flexes; placing the hands at your side, slide them down left and right until your fingers touch the outside of the knee. According to Sprint Physiotherapy, the majority of exercises should be performed ten times, helping to loosen the spine and increase its range of motion. This is useful when trying to avoid muscle strains during quick movements with heavy weights. 

Embrace the Core

Amongst personal trainers and fitness instructors, 'embrace the core' has become a cliché phrase that is often overused. However, it actually has a lot of truth to it and if explained properly can help save you from injury. When performing any back exercises, particularly the deadlift, Romanian deadlift, and bent over row, tensing your stomach will stop your spine from excessively bending. The core itself consists of the obliques (the sides) and the lower back as well as the upper and lower abdominals. Bringing your bellybutton back towards your spine whilst tensing, as if you're getting ready to be punched will make your whole midriff a lot stronger.

Work the Trunk

Naturally when you perform bigger compound exercises that work mutiple muscle groups you will often work your core muscles; deadlifts, pull-ups and lunges are great examples of this. Yet training different parts of your core throughout the week is strongly advised. Just like a house, if you have four strong walls you have a stronger structure. With the core, having strong abdominals, obliques and lower back will give you maximum protection. Exercises such as the plank, side plank, dorsal raises and leg raises can be done easily without equipment at home or at the gym. One to three sets at eight to ten repetitions is perfect for movement exercises. However, for isometric exercises like the plank holding for up to one minute is a good time to aim for.

For assistance, talk to a physiotherapist.