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By Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., and Rita La Rosa Loud, B.S.

Let’s get rowing!

Posture exercises can benefit each of us in a variety of ways.  It can help with back and neck pain, help us to breathe deeper and with greater ease, help to reduce our stress levels and, in general, help us to feel better and more energetic.  When we strengthen our posture muscles we may reduce our risk of musculoskeletal issues and infirmities. Interestingly, many seniors benefitting from posture exercises tell us that they feel taller and slimmer! There are a number of exercises that can be done to strengthen our postural musculature, like the ones’ we mentioned in our March article, The Case for a Strong Neck.

However, in this issue we are focusing on the Seated Row exercise.  So, where does the back fit in you may be asking?  Well … Let’s get rowing!

SEATED ROW EXERCISE

 Our posture has a tendency to decline with age, but fortunately this can be addressed with appropriate strength exercises, such as the seated row exercise.  The seated row is a compound (multi-joint) exercise that strengthens the pulling muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and arms, mainly, the latissimus dorsi, teres major, posterior deltoids, trapezius, biceps, and forearms.   When performed properly, on a regular basis, the seated row exercise can significantly improve your posture.  Strengthening the posterior posture muscles has the potential to remediate muscle imbalances and to reduce both upper back and lower back discomfort.

PROPER EXECUTION OF THE MACHINE SEATED ROW EXERCISE

  •  Sit on the seat, with feet firmly planted, shoulder width apart against foot plates, knees slightly bent
  • Firmly grasp machine handles with arms fully extended and parallel to floor
  • Keep head and neck, aligned over shoulders, torso, and hips
  • Pull the handles backward until the elbows are fully flexed
  • Return the handles to the arm-extended starting position
  •  Keep eyes focused straight ahead throughout the exercise
  • Maintain an erect torso and head position throughout the backward and forward movements
  • Use slow, controlled movement speeds, e.g., three counts on the backward pulling action and three counts on the forward return movement
  • Exhale during each backward action and inhale during each forward return movement
  • Perform 1 set 8-12 repetitions to temporary muscle fatigue

SEATED ROW LOW SEAT VARIATION

 

Lower the seat so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor in line with the handles.

Pull the handles to your chest, and return to the starting position.  This seated row variation emphasizes the rear shoulder and retraction muscles, which is ideal for improving upper back posture.

 

 

SEATED ROW HIGH SEAT VARIATION

 

Raise the seat so that your upper arms are against your sides.  Pull the handles to your upper midsection, and return to the starting position.  This seated row variation emphasizes the upper back muscles which is helpful for improving lower back posture.

 

 

 

RESISTANCE BAND SEATED ROW EXERCISE SEATED ROW HIGH PULL VARIATION

Secure a resistance band around a banister.  Facing the banister, sit upright on the chair, both feet firmly planted on the ground.  With your upper arms parallel to the ground and in line with the band handles, pull the handles towards your chest then return to the starting position.  This seated row option emphasizes the rear shoulder and retraction muscles which is right on target for enhancing upper back posture.

 

SEATED ROW LOW PULL VARIATION

Sit on the chair in an upright position and pull the handles towards your upper midsection, and return to  the starting position.  In this seated row alternative, the muscles of the upper back are emphasized which is beneficial for improving lower back posture.

 

 

In all of these exercises, the core muscles (the abdominals and low back extensors) contractisometrically to stabilize your trunk and to strengthen these muscles as well.

SUMMARY

We can all benefit from strength training ourmusculoskeletal system.  It’s good to know that we can look forward to being strong and fit versus weak and frail into our golden years.   Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the seated row exercises or other posture enhancing exercises.

About the Authors: Wayne L. Westcott is the Professor of Exercise Science at Quincy College and author of 30 books on physical fitness. Rita La Rosa Loud co-directs the Quincy College Community Health and Fitness Center with Dr. Westcott and is also an author of fitness relatedpublications. They can be reached at 617.984.1716.

 

 

Reprinted from the September 2019 edition of the South Shore Senior News.

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