The bent-over row exercise is superb if you’re suffering from knee, low back, shoulder and/or neck pain, but only if done correctly.

The exercise trains many muscles simultaneously, but in particular the muscles of the entire back, glutes and thighs. Whether you’re trying to improve posture or lifting mechanics, reduce body fat or recover from injury, the bent-over row can be a powerful tool. Just get medical clearance to exercise from your doctor SUBMITTED - Proper technique - Whether you're trying to improve posture or lifting mechanics, reduce body fat or recover from injury, the bent-over row can be a powerful tool.

To begin, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells. Females can usually use five-pound dumbbells and males 15-pounders, although you’ll need more if you train regularly.

Stand up with the palms facing forward and then lean over at the hips while bending the knees, being sure to keep your spine slightly extended (do not bend the spine!). If you’re set up correctly, you shouldn’t feel anything in your low back. If you do, start over and keep your spine straight, belly button drawn inward and knees bent.

The movement: pull the dumbbells back into a rowing motion and focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together. Be sure not to shrug your shoulders, move your head (especially backward) or allow your trunk to move up and down during the exercise. Using proper technique prevents injury (especially to the low back and shoulder) while providing all the benefits.

As with all resistance training exercises, your movement should be smooth and constantly controlled to maximize benefit. Being sloppy only increases injury risk and the length of time you exercise, so slow down and focus on what you’re doing.

If you feel your arms tiring instead of your back, you’re not focusing enough on your upper middle back muscles and probably moving your arms too close to your body when rowing the dumbbells. If you have access to a barbell, I recommend using it instead of dumbbells to help keep your hands and elbows in the correct position.

If you have an injury to your knee, spine, shoulder or neck, this can be a powerful exercise to help you recover. To ensure safety, however, have a licensed physical therapist with advanced exercise training help you get the technique right. You’ll benefit more from doing one set of 10 repetitions with superb technique and adequate intensity than you would from three sets of 10 with lousy technique and inadequate intensity.

Don’t forget: resistance training is much different than lifting weights. Lifting weights is boring, carries a high injury risk and requires little skill because the movement speed is inconsistent and uncontrolled.

Resistance training, however, is powerful medicine to combat disease and injury due to focus on specific muscles and total control throughout a specific range of motion. Further, sessions also take up to 75 percent less time to complete compared to lifting weights.

And resistance training can also make you stronger mentally, which could be priceless for those suffering from depression. How many medications can do that?

Colin Hoobler is a licensed physical therapist, hosts a live health segment on KGW Channel 8 and has written two books on exercise as treatment for disease and injury

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