Prone extension is a type of floor-based exercise that works your lower back, spine, butt, hips, and shoulders muscles. The prone position is simply lying face down on your stomach. The supine position is the opposite of the prone, and it is when you are lying flat on your back, face up.
These two positions are used mainly when doing manual therapy, some stretches and back exercises. The yoga Cobra pose is an excellent example of the prone position. Here, you will need to lie on your stomach first, then push your head, chest and shoulders gently off the floor.
The prone extension is quite convenient as you will not require any other equipment apart from your body weight and a comfortable surface, where you will lie on. You might need a mat and some clear space for this. Therefore, this movement does not limit you to the gym for its performance.
HOW TO DO PRONE EXTENSION
Here is a step-by-step procedure of how to do the exercise.
- Start by lying on a mat face down on your stomach with your legs straightened behind you.
- Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders or you can place them against your body.
- Now, arch your back lifting your head, chest and shoulders off the ground without relying on your arms for support. This will force your middle and back muscles to do the bulk of the work.
- Ensure your hips are pressed onto the mat, and your head and neck kept neutral. Your chin should also be tucked in to prevent neck strain.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering back to the initial position.
- Repeat for the desired number of sets and reps.
PRONE EXTENSION MUSCLES WORKED
The exercise works your back muscles. Essentially, the back has layers of superficial, intermediate and deep muscles. During the exercise, the spine is extended by the intermediate and deep layers muscles.
The erector spinae is one of the largest muscles used during the back extension. It is a type of an intermediate muscles. It’s made up of three parts: the longissimus, iliocostalis and spinalis. The longissimus, which is attached to the spine, starts in the neck and runs down into your lower back. The iliocostalis spans from the bottom of your neck, running down to the bottom of your spine. And lastly, the spinalis, which is the shortest of the three, begins at the bottom of your neck to the top of your lower back.
The movement also works the muscles that are responsible for the extension of the head and neck. These are the splenius and capitis which lift your head and neck up. They usually give you control over your head and neck and start at the top of the spine running up to the bottom of the skull
The multifidus and semispinalis are the deep muscles used during the movement. The multifidus spawns from the neck running to the bottom of the spine. It usually runs along the side of the spine. On the other hand, the semispinalis begins from the bottom of the neck running to the top of the lower back. It covers the middle of the spine.
HIP AND LEG MUSCLES
Doing this back extension, also works your glutes and hamstrings.
PRONE EXTENSION BENEFITS
STRENGTHENS YOUR BACK MUSCLES.
This back extension exercise strengthens the back muscles in the process. Prone press-ups are also a great way to strengthen back muscles.
STRENGTHENS HAMSTRING MUSCLES
The hamstring muscles are targeted and strengthened using this exercise. Having strengthened hamstrings helps counter the forward tipping of your pelvic bone, which can cause excessive lumbar spinal curve, tight back muscles, and pain.3
PREVENTS BACK PAIN
The lower and middle back muscles help in heavy lifting, supporting your posture and protecting your spine. Therefore, it is important to keep these muscles strong and healthy. Failure to do this may lead to lower back pain.
Your lower back muscles also stabilize the spine and promote a healthy posture. In order to counter the front and back body imbalances brought about by daily life, you need to do spinal and back extension nearly all the time. The prone extension is an example of exercise that can correct such imbalances and facilitate a good posture.
PRONE EXTENSION ALTERNATIVES
PRONE LEG EXTENSION
The prone leg extension is quite similar to our exercise. The difference is that you will need to raise your legs while lying on your stomach. It also engages the back extensors, hamstrings, and glutes meaning the two movements are very similar in terms of back muscle activation.
SUPERMAN BACK EXTENSION
For superman back extension, lie face down while lifting both arms and legs together. Hold this position for a few seconds at the top of the movement, then lower down slowly to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
SWIMMER BACK EXTENSION
For swimmer back extension, lie face down while lifting the right arm and left leg. Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering down to the starting position. Now, alternate with the left arm and right leg and repeat the movement for the desired number of reps.
PRONE EXTENSION MISTAKES TO AVOID
Do not move rapidly as you lift your upper torso. The move needs to be performed slowly and under control. This will enable you to obtain optimal results and prevent straining and injury.
Do not overarch your back as this can add unnecessary strain on your lower back. Arch your back to a comfortable position.
Also, do not attempt the movement if you have back or shoulder problems, especially before getting advice from a doctor or personal trainer. Talk to them first so that they can recommend the safest way to perform the exercise.
The prone extension is a great low-back strengthening exercise. It is also an excellent way of preventing recurring low back pain. Make sure you use the correct technique to obtain optimal results and prevent injuries.