Bad posture is the number one reason for upper back pain and contributes to shoulder issues. One way to avoid having these issues is to work out regularly, and Lat Pull-Downs are the exercise that you want to do for this important region of the body. Below you will find some invaluable advice on the proper way to perform this exercise for the most efficient and safe work out.
Positioning and Control
Lat Pull-Downs are a very effective way to build upper body strength, however if done improperly they can cause injury. Position and control are vital to doing this beneficial exercise properly. You first want to start by facing the weight machine sitting straddle the seat in a position that provides you with adequate reach when raising and lowering the bar. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your grip on the bar should be just wider than shoulder width. Next you will squeeze your shoulder blades down and together as you pull down on the weight bar. As you pull down with the weights lean back to about a 45 degree angle; remembering to engage your abdomen to protect your lower back while keeping your back straight. DO NOT arch your back. This engages your upper back working your rhomboids, shoulder cuff region, arms, and areas of your core. You will pull the bar down in front of you to the bottom of the neck and hold.
After a 1 to 2 second hold in the pulled down position you will release the weight bar back up in a controlled motion, not allowing the weight to crash down on its own. This reverse motion works the remaining muscles in the shoulder and upper back regions.
How Many and How Often
Ideally you want to be able to perform eight to fifteen repetitions per set, and three to four sets each time you do this work out. To avoid over working these week muscles do this work out about three to four times per week making sure to have a recovery day in between. Staggered recovery days are a good idea for any regular work outs.
What you should know about your Upper Back
The upper back is the weakest region of the body, made up of many smaller muscles; but it is responsible for a lot. The upper back is key to proper posture, as well as partially responsible for head, shoulder, and arm movements. Because of the many muscle groups that attach the upper back to the head, neck, spine, and shoulder blades, this area is very inter-connected with several movement oriented body quadrants. In order to keep upper body movement fluid and pain free, it is important to maintain a healthy upper back region.
Being healthy as you age can be challenging, especially with gravity constantly pulling down on your posture, and physical activity declining. You can still have a healthy body at any age though if you simply take the time to do a little additional exercise and make sure that when exercising you perform each motion properly to avoid injury and get the most from your work out.