Lower Back Strength Prevents Spinal Injury
Lower back injuries are one of the most common types of injuries among motorcycle riders. They most often occur from repeated exposure to long and strenuous rides over an extended period. Age also plays a role.
In a lot of instances, the lower back pain symptoms start as a series of minor aches and pains in the lower back region that show up shortly after a ride but quickly subside. But as time goes on, those minor aches and pains will often turn into full-blown back injuries, complete with severe pain, lack of mobility, and limited range of motion.
By far, the most effective way to prevent back injuries is to strengthen and condition the back muscles themselves. However, the process is slightly different than the full body; cardio-focused workouts that are often associated with most motocross training programs. Instead, back strengthening is focused more on isolation exercises targeting your body’s lower back and core, with one exception.
Hyper Extensions. These are a “reverse sit-up” that targets your lower back instead of your abs. Hyperextension benches are commonly used for this exercise, but not required.
Once you’ve properly positioned yourself on the bench, you’ll slowly bend forward at the waist while keeping your back flat and inhaling.
- Keep bending forward until you feel a significant amount of strain on your hamstrings.
- Then, you’ll slowly raise yourself back up into your starting position, keeping your back straight the entire time.
- Two sets of sub-max reps should be sufficient. If you want to raise the difficulty, you can always add weight.
Barbell Deadlifts. Deadlifts are the one exception that is not isolated or core related, but they are one of the most effective back exercises you can do as part of your rider fitness program.
- For barbell deadlifts, you’ll stand directly behind the bar.
- You’ll then bend down at your knees while keeping your back straight and grasp the bar. This is your starting position.
- Next, you’ll push with your legs while bending your waist, keeping your back as straight as possible, exhaling until you’re in an upright position.
- Finally, you’ll lower the bar back down to the ground by bending your knees and torso (at the waist) while keeping your back straight. That’s one rep.
- A good starting point is three sets of five repetitions each.
- Make sure to do deadlifts CAREFULLY! Too fast or too much weight can cause serious injury!
Abdominal Crunches. Abdominal crunches are the epitome of core exercises. Plus, they’re extremely simple to perform.
- Lie flat on your back with your feet resting on a wall (so your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle).
- Next, cross your arms on your chest and raise your head and shoulders off of the floor while exhaling.
- Hold that position for 3-5 seconds, and then slowly lower your head and shoulders back down to the floor while slowly inhaling.
- Do three sets of sub-max reps each.
Quadrupeds. Quadrupeds are slightly more difficult than crunches, but they’re very effective at strengthening your core.
- Start on “all fours” with you hands and knees on the floor. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders.
- Next, tighten your abs and extend your right arm and left leg at the same time.
- Hold that position for 3-5 seconds then lower your arm and leg to its starting position.
- Repeat the exercise with the opposite limbs (left arm and right leg).
- Do three sets of 10-15 reps with each position.
Bonus Lower Back Support While Riding
Strength training and condition is without a doubt the most effective way to prevent back injuries. However, there is another form of lower back protection used during a race that is popular among riders. It’s called a kidney belt.
A kidney belt is similar to a weightlifting belt. It’s a wide band that fits around a rider’s torso. Its default function is to help prevent internal damage while riding, but many riders use it for additional lower back support. It’s not a guaranteed solution, but there are quite a few riders who swear by it.
**Special Note: While strength training is the most effective way to protect your lower back, it can also injure your back if not done with care. Make sure you take the necessary precautions when working out. Do the exercises properly to avoid lower back injury, don’t try to lift more weight than you’re capable of, and make sure your rest between sets.
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