How to stretch your lats & lower back effectively. Don't stand for back pain, get assessed at Adelaide's best rehab gym.
Perhaps you are compromising your back as a result of poor hip movement...
Studies done on low back pain show that the pain is often caused by losing the ability to move through the hips. I see this all the time in clients and always have to re-pattern their hip movement to save their backs!
Dr Stuart McGill strikes again: “This is why the hip hinge is known to be a superior movement pattern for low back pain clients. Learning to hip hinge is paramount for both injury prevention and optimal performance.”
Too right Stuart!
Learn how to move before you learn how to be strong!
If you'd like to learn how to deadlift or kettlebell swing then check out our video downloads on these topics.
Don't sacrifice your lower back for Deadlifts or Kettlebell Swings unless the movement has been broken down and taught to you effectively and you can carry it out extremely well.
3rd core exercise in our top 4...
Another great core activation drill. Awesome for improving Multifidus function; neck & shoulder stability as well as overall core stability.
For full explanation of the exercise please visit "stability exercises" in our exercise library.
If you found this information (or any info on this page) useful, please share.
2nd core exercise in our top Four...
This is an awesome drill for core activation. The video pretty much says it all. I use this daily with clients and it's a great follow on exercise from the previous breathing drill. Also, don't forget to BREATHE throughout this drill! Exhale as your leg is lowering. Holding your breath is a cheat ;-)
Give it a go :-)
Four of my top core exercises everyone should make a part of their exercise regime...
First up is...
The first being BREATHING:
Before you laugh, yes, I did say breathing!
Simple right? Not really. Most of us (myself being a culprit at times) are dysfunctional breathers, this being due to stress; injury; emotional issues; poor health etc. We breathe around 20,000+ breaths per day, that is a lot of opportunity for dysfunction.
We use our core muscles for breathing; simplified our diaphragm & pelvic floor contract together on the inhale to create Intra Abdominal Pressure (IAP), this stabilises our spine & we recruit our remaining core muscles on the exhale.
The dysfunction comes in when we either hold in our stomachs for long periods (females being biggest culprits) or start taking shallower breaths. This makes it extremely hard for normal functional breathing and requires us to recruit our neck and chest muscles with every breath.
To learn how to work on your breathing keep reading. I would highly recommend ANYONE with lower back pain to focus on their breathing especially but really EVERYONE should be doing it...
Visit our exercise library and have a read through our Stability Exercises the first 3 exercises that come up which are about BREATHING.
I wanted to bring attention to the fact that there is a difference between causing a flexed position in the lumbar spine (lower back) and creating a neutral position at the pelvis. When your pelvis is in a neutral position, it doesn't necessarily mean that your lumbar spine is going to be in a flexed position.
I say this because I often find that people who have a history of lumbar disc bulges or herniations seem to perceive a neutral pelvic position as lumbar flexion. They also tend to be afraid of moving their pelvis out of an anterior tilt as they use it as a protective mechanism to avoid lumbar flexion.
The main issue I have with this is that although a flexed lumbar spine (particularly under load) causes disc compression, so does an excessive anterior pelvic tilt, not only does this alter the pressure at the discs but it also causes Sacroiliac Joint (SIJ) compression & encourages core instability. The majority of people who have excessive anterior pelvic tilts also have dysfunctional glutes (glute activation decompresses the SIJ). One of the roles of your glutes is to create a posterior tilt of the pelvis. If you never let your pelvis move out of anterior tilt then you are disabling your glutes (compare the above two pictures again and tell me which one can you see more glutes in) and you can probably add obliques; abdominals; TvA to that dysfunctional list too. You can tell by the creases of my top that in the first picture on the left my abs are stretched and elongated and in the picture on the right, they are contracted. Stretched abs = unprotected and compressed lower back!
Your body will find stability where it can if it is lacking and this can be in the form of SIJ compression due to dysfunction in your core musculature. Make sure you aren't forcing yourself into anterior tilt, whether under load (lifting or pushing weight) or not but working on pelvic stability instead so you know where neutral is.
Don't feed a habit...CHANGE a habit!
There are two very common myths that people have been led to believe and I have them come up repeatedly in my work, I'd like to draw attention to them and ask that you please please please think before taking these myths on board.
Number 1 Myth: "I need to do situps to strengthen my core"
What I would say to this: No offence to anyone who has ever used this phrase but it is Balderdash!
Number 2 Myth: "I need to use a weightbelt to support my lower back"
What I would say to this: Please see Balderdash comment above!
Now these are extremely common and easy mistakes to make as these days there is so much access to information out there that it is hard to sieve through the crap and find the honest truth. And I hate to say it but there are a lot of trainers out there who have very basic knowledge and either haven't been exposed to or sought out the truths as yet or don't have the understanding.
There are also issues of jumping onboard the "things that are cool" train and accessorising the crap out of yourself in order to look the part. Last time I checked, all I needed to train was myself, just a body, maybe some clothes, leave the shoes at home though!
Maybe a mate of yours trains in a belt and raves on about how "secure & strong" his back feels when he's lifting. So you're like "cool dude, mind if I try?", then you're like "wow, I can lift more with this belt on and everything feels so tight". Or maybe your trainer encourages you to wear one as they think it will protect your back. If any of these scenarios ring true please please please stop and ask yourself WHY???!!!
This important little 3 letter word has somehow become lost in society. No one seems to turn around anymore and challenge what they are being told. Everyone just accepts, particularly if it is coming from someone in authority or if it is someone you should be seen to trust. Go out there and find the truth for yourself and then challenge it!
The thing with the situps is that your Rectus Abdominus (six pack muscle) is not your core! It does not protect your lower back and if anything can actually make things worse if you overuse your Abs and cause dysfunction in your system. You can also do harm if you already have core dysfunction (which is highly likely if you have or have had lower back pain) and are doing multiple situps as your back will not be protected throughout the movement.
Your deep core muscles comprise of your Diaphragm (hence why I put so much emphasis on breathing when it comes to core function); Pelvic floor; Transversus Abdominus (TvA); Multifidus & to a degree your Internal Obliques as well. Your Rectus Abdominus is a global muscle and is not designed to be a stabiliser. The above mentioned muscles have to work in synergy (when you have a functional inner unit) to control Intra Abdominal Pressure (IAP) on lifting. If any of them are out of sync and being lazy or even being overkeen and have become overactive then it blows out the whole system.
Weightbelts prevent you from being able to access your breath properly (creating dysfunction) and last time I checked you were born with a weightbelt, it's called your TvA ;-)...try using it!
If you'd like to know the secret to a stable lower back and a better functioning unit, let me tell you...FUNCTIONAL BREATHING! :-) It's that simple, well initially anyway, that is where you start...no point in trying all these fancy core exercises or thinking 100 situps a day will save your back. Start with breathing please! Once again, please check my stability exercises library for the intro to breathing, My Youtube Channel has my video on it as well and you can refer to my facebook page for an awesome interview link on breathing and pelvic floor.
For further reading on why I hate the weight belt and how it is making your back WEAKER & DYSFUNCTIONAL, yes, I said WEAKER, please look back through my blogs for my blog post on the weight belt and all will be revealed in more detail!
Please feel free to leave a comment below if you can tell me the benefits of wearing a weightbelt. Same goes for the situps. I'm very interested to know what people's views are or what they have been told.
More often than not I see loads of guys and girls donning the weight belt during lifting sessions, regardless of whether it is a heavy strength session or a metcon that is being carried out.
When did the weight belt trend begin and what knowledge have we gained since then?
Do you even know WHY you are wearing a belt if you are someone who puts one on habitually before each session?
I have tried to breakdown an article by Paul Chek on the subject to highlight the most important points made. I strongly advise anyone with an interest in prolonging their low back health or anyone currently using weight belts regularly to read the full article here.
Weight belts have been known to be used as far back as the early 1900's, with no clear reasoning behind the reason for their use. It may have been in line with medical trends back then to use corsets as a treatment for scoliosis and back pain?
These days there has been much research into the area of lower back stabilisation and low back pain resulting in a much more in depth understanding of the stabilising system of the spine.
Cue The Inner Unit & The Outer Unit…
These muscles play a vital role in lower back stabilisation! A study carried out in 1999 concluded that in people without back pain, the TVA fired 30 milliseconds (ms) prior to shoulder movements and 110 ms prior to leg movements. During each variation of movements performed within the study there was still synergistic (muscles working together to perform a movement) recruitment of all inner unit muscles. It was noted that regardless of movement plane or pattern of the subjects, the TVA muscle appeared relatively consistent in its activation pattern. Researchers propose that the nondirectional, specific activation of the TVA relates to the dominant role played in providing spinal stiffness.
"The TVA, in concert with other inner unit muscles (Figure 1), activates to increase stiffness of spinal joints and the sacroiliac joints (6,7,15). Activation of the inner unit provides the necessary stiffness to give the arms and legs a working foundation from which to operate. Failure of the TVA to activate 30-110 ms prior to arm or leg movements respectively has been correlated with back pain and dysfunction (6, 16). The inner unit is part of a system of stabiliser mechanisms, all of which are dependent on the integrated function of all inner unit muscles." - Paul Chek
Couldn't have said it better myself!
The Outer Unit consists of many muscles such as the External Obliques, Internal Obliques, Erector Spinae, Latissimus Dorsi, Gluteus Maximus, Adductors and Hamstrings working together with the inner unit to achieve co-ordinated movement.
Here is a simplified version of the inner/outer unit systems. Using a pirate ship’s mast as a human spinal column. While the inner unit muscles are responsible for developing and maintaining segmental stiffness, the bigger muscles, shown here as guy wires, are responsible for creating movement.
The Inner and Outer Units Simplified
"Recruitment of trunk stabilizers via EMG with and without a weight belt has been studied. These studies concluded there was increased recruitment of the erector spinae and rectus abdominis when wearing a belt. Now that you understand the workings of the inner unit, it should be evident that by recruiting the larger, gross stabilizers without proportionate recruitment of the inner unit musculature responsible for regulating joint stiffness, the result could certainly lead to spinal joint dysfunction or exacerbate an existing condition. It is also likely that prolonged use of weight belts will result in coordination problems within the inner unit muscles and among the inner and outer unit systems." - Paul Chek.
Now, all this said, if you are someone who regularly relies on a weight belt and this article opens up your eyes into entering the world of being Back Strong & Beltless. Please refer to Part 3 of the article where Paul will talk you through the safe and necessary steps to take in order to wean yourself off the belt. Your current movement patterns will be reliant on your weight belt and getting rid of the belt all of a sudden will no doubt result in injury. Wean yourself off slowly and carefully and get your internal weight belt working for you instead! Just as nature intended! :-)
All references can be found on Paul Chek's full article.