Take the dumbbell row for example. While it might seem to be a painfully simple exercise to perform for even the most kinaesthetically-challenged desk jockey, I rarely see flawless dumbbell row execution.
Sadly, what I usually encounter looks like a perverse combination of a triceps kickback and a dumbbell concentration curl performed with more momentum than a crowded CrossFit class
The one-arm dumbbell row, when performed correctly, is one of the most versatile "bang for your buck" upper body exercises in your arsenal. The movement involves scapular retraction and depression, along with spinal extension and compression through the thoracolumbar region, and also acts as a core stabilization exercise through anti-rotation and anti-flexion.
The latissimus is one of the only muscles to run directly over the vertebrae of the thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spine, with direct tie-ins through the SI joint, making it an important exercise for back pain sufferers. Additionally, it helps develop thickness through the upper and mid back that's difficult to get through deadlifting or squatting alone, and helps improve scapular mechanics.
The row is typically intended to work the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, lower traps, and erector spinae, and requires a large degree of stabilization from the rotator cuff. This means that if you're doing it correctly, you should feel the muscles between and below your shoulder blades working like crazy.
However, if you were to ask a dozen people in the gym where they feel it working, they'd tell you their elbows, biceps, wrists, shoulders, neck, hairline, glutes, and pretty much every part of their body except their lats.
Since no one's really working their lats, and the lats play a major role in low back and sacral segmental stabilization, we can logically deduct that one of the reasons many have a bad back is due to poor kinaesthetic awareness of their own spinal and scapular positioning on different movements. Maybe it's a chicken versus the egg debate, but the end result is still the same.
People tend to approach the dumbbell row with a kyphotic thoracic spine, posterior pelvic tilt, head too low or too high, elbow flared out to the side, wrist curling at the end to get extra height on the lift, massive torso rotations, jerk-pulls to use momentum for the last little pull, and any number of other movements that could be considered anything but a row.http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QlOkk9lH6Po