Building back muscles has not been easy for me. When it comes to the core I got game. And when people see the work I can do in my core they usually don’t believe me that I can’t do pull ups. But maddening as it might be I can hang from a pull up bar and get less than a quarter inch of lift. Sad but true.
Enter my new toy. I guess some times it helps to be a narcissist who talks endlessly about himself while teaching yoga. I was in class announcing yet again my struggles with building back muscles and doing pull ups and chin ups when a student (Paul Murphy, thanks be to him) showed up with a massive four foot rubber band.
As you can see in the picture, I have a pull up bar that hangs on a door frame and has six different stations for the hands. And now I have a giant rubber band hanging from there. There are a number of muscles that are being developed when doing pull ups but the main muscle that I am working on is the latissimus dorsi, which translates from Latin as “broadest muscle of the back”.
The latissimus dorsi is the only muscle connecting the arm to the spine and pelvis, and back in the day when we were swinging from the trees we were essentially hanging from the latisimmus. I have always felt that most of the limitations in my yoga practice come from weakness in this muscle and other associated muscles of the back.
Now when I am ready to do pull ups, I put my foot into the stirrup stand down on it and it assists me up into the position. It doesn’t do the exercise for me as I still can’t finish three reps at all six stations but I’ll get there.
Building back muscles will hopefully give me more access to a better sense of balance through my whole musculature. It can take time to get to know your body and figure out exactly what needs to be worked on and developed but with patience and awareness you can develop the body that you want and need to get to be an able octogenarian.