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exercises to strengthen back ?

It seems about 2-3 times a year I hurt my back, not really bad but it still hurts like hell for about a week. It never happens at the gym but usually a day or 2 after so I'm pretty sure there is something I'm doing wrong, probably multiple things. So to give an idea of my workout, I start doing a cable chest press, then dumbbell shoulder presses, dumbbell bench press, barbell curls, wrist curls and dips for my upper body. I don't lift heavy weight and usually stay within the 6-10 rep range. After upper body I use a horizontal ab machine and the sitting chair where raise your knees(I don't kick my legs straight out on that one, I keep my knees bent). That all takes around 30-40 minutes and then I do about 15 minutes of cardio, usually only jogging and about a 90 second run near the end. I know this probably isn't good but I never stretch, I usually do warmup sets and don't lift super heavy weight so didn't think it was necessary.

So I think I laid everything out and am just curious what I could be doing to strengthen my back, I don't really care about ab workouts but was really just doing them because I thought it was good for my back. I'm really curious about my ab workouts and whether running (on a treadmill) could be a factor in my back pain. I'm sure semi-regular massages might help as well since I seem to be very tense which doesn't help I'm sure. Thanks in advance for any help.
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replied June 25th, 2010
Experienced User
You probably need to work on your form. Personally when my back starts to bother me a lot, if I do ab exercises it usually helps. Obviously don't over do it with anything too strenuous. As you get older you need to stretch more. I would think that someone who injures their back 2 or 3 times a year would try an exercise made to prevent injury. That is just commonsense. Stretching if done properly will also improve your performance. I don't run on a treadmill, but do it the old fashioned way. When I run a lot it can hurt my back. If you are going to use the treadmill instead of say an elliptical (which is lower impact and you can really get more full cardio workout on), then watch your technique. Land on the balls of feet. When most people run they land on their heels. This is stupid even though it's what comes most natural to your average person. When you land on your heels, it sends a shockwave through your body to the spine. When you jump think of how you land. Not on your heels right? Well running is just a series of small forward moving jumps. To practice proper technique, take your shoes off and run in some grass like a hippie. Without shoes you will instinctively revert back to a more natural way of running. You won't land on your heels like normal, because it will freakin hurt. If done properly (notice a trend?Technique is everything) a good massage will help with back pain. It's only temporary relief though. If you keep up with the massages over a long enough time it may do more. I find that if you know a good chiropractor that is a beautiful thing. Regular chiropractor appointments will make a huge difference for most people that just have your more common back injuries. I don't know a lot about nerve damage but if you take good care of yourself from now on hopefully it doesn't come to that. That's all I've got off the top of my head from personal experience that worked for me.
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replied June 26th, 2010
Thanks for the reply, I didn't think about running being bad for my back so maybe Ill start doing the elliptical. I was thinking about the workouts I do and the only other one I think could be bad would be a dumbbell press, not the actual workout but sometimes I have to carry the 50lb weights 20 feet, turn around with them and sit on the bench, I'm sure an extra 100lbs can't be good for my back(I only weigh 160) so maybe Ill just start benching so I can avoid that.

Or maybe it has nothing to do with the gym, I started sleeping with a pillow elevating my legs at night and that already seems to make me feel a lot better.
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