America’s relationship to the couch is a strong, if not a passionate one. I have to admit, after sitting in class all day, I couldn’t wait to get home to sink into my couch and unwind. Good posture definitely wasn’t on my mind!
We all know someone (or might be that someone) who complains about their back. Well, one of the main causes of lower back pain is sitting for long periods of time. Most of us drive, work, or attend school then return home only to sit some more. So you can see why lower back pain is common… but how does your back pay the price when you’re just sitting?
When seated, your hip flexors are shortened, and your gluteals are lengthened. Over time this creates reciprocal inhibition of the glutes And lower abdominals because you are consistently keeping your hip flexors shortened and tight. When the glute max (the biggest of the three gluteals) is lengthened and weak, other muscles that would normally assist it become overactive to compensate for that weak rear end. This is an example of synergistic dominance. Your hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads become prime movers instead of synergists. This creates a postural distortion where your shortened hip flexors tilt your pelvis to the front creating an arch in your lower back. Your lower back (Lumbar Erector Spinae) becomes shortened and tight.
In order to be pain free, you need to activate your gluteals as well as your lower abs. Your Glute Maximus creates hip extension, and your Glute Medius and Minimus create hip abduction.
But before you can turn on your glutes and abs, you must turn off your overactive muscles. So allow me to introduce you to your new best friend–The Foam Roll!
When using the foam roll, you are activating certain mechanoreceptors called Golgi Tendon Organs (GTOs). These guys react to the amount of tension as well as the rate of tension being placed on the muscle by shutting down or relaxing the effected muscle. For example, when you foam roll your hamstrings, hip flexors, quads, and lower back, you are activating the GTOs, allowing your muscles to relax. To foam roll your lower back, simply find a wall and place the foam roll between your lower back and the wall and slowly squat down. Make sure the roll reaches your entire Lumbar spine.
Now that you and the foam roll have gotten acquainted, it’s time to lengthen and stretch the muscles you just relaxed. Here are some highly effective stretches you can perform daily! Quad+Hip Flexor Stretch, Hamstring Stretches, Calf Stretch, Lower Back Stretches
Once you have lengthened those muscles, you can activate your glutes and low abdominals using isolated resistance exercises. Standing Hip Abduction, Standing Hip Extension, and Bridges are great exercises to incorporate into your workouts! And make sure you strengthen you abs the right way with this exercise progression!
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