Monday, June 18, 2007

TIP: Maintain a Neutral Spine, i.e. no archy back

If you talk to a Chiropractor or even a Physical Therapist, the top "ailment" of their clients is often times lower back pain. It is in large part due to the lack of physical activity in our professions that creates muscle imbalances and poor postures that over arch our backs in hyperlordosis. In a previous email I spoke to this point in talking about engaging your Abs or Core to keep the back in line, however I believe there might have been some confusion so I want to be very clear.



Almost every exercise involves the lower back and Abs and so this training tip can be applied to all training, however it is particularly important for any overhead press, standing balance, squat, plank, Warrior, and extension. In fact, this is important any time you are carrying anything of weight (babies/groceries/boxes), pushing/punching, or kicking motion where your lower back has some inclination to over arch to provide support rather than using your Abs to hold your spine neutral and strong. In real life we might also sag to one side or slump forward, all of which are putting undue pressure on the spine which leads to tightness, pain and possibly permanent curvature. Having strong Abs and Core muscles from doing various free weight exercises, yoga poses, Pilates movements, etc. properly will make it easier to hold your back neutral and reduce injuries.

When our back over arches, it compresses vertebrae, so much so that we can easily feel when the pressure in such bad postures. Our back has a natural curve that is flexible and strong, so anytime you feel your back arching more than the natural small curve you need to be aware of this and pull it back into alignment. We can talk about this in several ways, all ways that your coach should be using during training:

1. Use your Ab strength to realign (or "straighten") your lower back, which pulls your tail under and lifts the upper body forward very slightly.
NOTE: This does not mean to hold your Abs engaged tightly through the entire movement, which is sometimes impossible, it is a subtle tension we are using to manauever the spine. Useful instruction during chest presses, planks.

2. Tilt your Hips back under you (tuck the tail bone by slightly rotating the hips) so that you are not sticking your butt out.
NOTE: your belt line should be even rather than tilted forward. Useful instruction during exercises where you are partially hinged/folded forward such as squats and back rows.

3. Lift your upper body weight up and off the lower back to allow it to regain neutrality.
NOTE: this is useful during yoga Warriors

2 comments:

spinaltap said...

here's a good link to find a chiropractor in your area: http://www.spineuniverse.com/search.php

spinaltap said...

here's a good link to find a chiropractor in your area: http://www.spineuniverse.com/search.php