Monday, September 6, 2010

The Experts Talk on Low Back Health

I feel compelled to start today’s post with a small confession. I don’t pay too much attention anymore to many internet websites and articles. Back in college (wow, we are going back in time) the internet was JUST starting to carry some really cool training information. There were rumors that some of the guys that were writing for the very innovative Muscle Media 2000 were going to do a spin off internet site.

Wow! Nothing could have been cooler than to hear this news. I was already fortunate enough to attend seminars by many of these great strength coaches and I knew they were on the edge of training information. The site didn’t disappoint as I could hardly wait till the end of each week to read the site updates. It was so bad that I would actually read these articles in my exercise science classes that were sorely outdated!

What’s the difference between now and then? Back then magazines and internet sites like this pulled from strength coaches that had a long history of success. Nowadays it is all about leveraging yourself with the right people and optimizing search engines. That has led to a whole new breed of “internet experts” that have a very small history of any type of success coaching and even a bunch that have not coached more than a handful of people, but man are they good at optimizing Google!

So, what does this have to do with training and our program? Once in awhile I come across a good article, something that really points strongly to things we have been doing for some time. Today it was an article by popular strength coach, Eric Cressey.

Eric Cressey is well known for his corrective exercise techniques and this specific article was in regards to low back injury prevention and health. His article, “Bulletproof That Back”, he outlines 19 great training tips to prevent and help low back pain. A few that really stood out to me were….

1. One other realm of stability I think is important to cover is single-leg stability or, simply stated, how well you stand on one foot. It’s crucial to overall health and performance for a number of reasons.

First, we spend a good chunk of our lives standing on one foot. Lunges, split squats, 1-leg RDLs, step-ups, and other single-leg drills are specific to the real world.
Second, and more specific to back pain, in many (but not all) cases of lower back pain, you can use appreciable loading on single-leg exercises because it’s much easier to maintain the spine in a neutral position in split-stance than in the position of bilateral hip flexion that occurs with squatting and deadlifting variations.

2. If you’re me, you categorize your core exercises in one of the following four disciplines (although there may be some overlap):

1. Anti-Flexion
2. Anti-Extension
3. Anti-Rotation
Today’s workout focused on these two principles very strongly. Dealing right now with not low back pain, but some serious neck issues, I found it a good time to really reinforce these principles.

It is amazing how normally that these types of movements and drills get thrown off to the side for drills we think are going to make us strong. However, if we take an honest inventory of our training and what we need, it can shock many that this type of routine can go a long ways in not only making them injury resistant, but VERY strong!

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