Lengthen before you Strengthen

Happy Monday, everyone! What an exciting weekend it’s been with Carolina taking it all the way to the championship! Today I wanted to go back to basics and talk about back pain from working out. Strength training is so important for the body; however, it can be detrimental if done incorrectly. Most of my clients have desk jobs which puts them at an even higher risk for back pain. Being in a sitting position for most of the day shortens the hamstrings and weakens the core. Without a strong core, the back has no choice but to compensate for the lack of strength!

The solution is simple. Make sure your core is properly engaged. This includes your local and global stabilization systems. Local stabilizers are muscles that attach directly to vertebrae. The primary muscles that make up local stabilization system include transverse abdominis, internal obliques, multifidus, pelvic floor musculature, and diaphragm. Muscles of global stabilization system attach from pelvis to the spine. These provide stability between pelvis and spine, and provide stabilization and eccentric control of the core during exercise. Primary muscles that make up global stabilization system include quadratus lumborum, psoas major, external obliques, portions of the internal oblique, rectus abdominis, gluteus medius, and adductor complex.

Before you can strengthen the underactive core muscles, you need to lengthen the overactive muscles that are causing you pain. This allows for complete range of motion and proper alignment of the spine. You will get the most out of your workouts if you start and finish them with stretching. Begin your workout with a dynamic warm up  and complete it with static stretching, holding each stretch for 30-60 seconds. Brace your core throughout your workout. This will make a dramatic difference in core strength if you’re forcing your abs to work instead of your back. Think of that tension you can create if someone was about to poke you in the stomach. You’re not holding your breath, but your core is flexed and stiff to support your spine in any exercise.

Once you feel relief, incorporate these exercises into each workout to ensure core stability. Marches, bridges, side plank or modified side plank. Work for about a minute and rest for 30-60 seconds between sets. Now you’re on your way to that six pack without any interference from your back 🙂

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