Friday, February 6, 2009

Managing the Spine, Part 2

The other day I discussed the first three training principles to protect the spine. Here are three more.

Principle 4: Body Awareness: Understanding were your body is and what it is doing is very important. In fact, most people that I work with are unaware of their body position, especially their spine, shoulder blades and hips. When I have them move into the correct position, it feels awkward. Often, they can't hold that position when they move or when they also have to move a second part of their body. In order to protect the spine, you always need to be cognizant of its position, whether you are sitting in a chair, or deadlifting.

Principle 5: Develop Torso Stability: A strong, stable torso is important to maintain a neutral spine position when you are strength training. However, most people select exercises to isolate specific muscle groups (ie their abs) and bend and twist their spines as they 'train' those muscles. This does not improve stability. It may even cause more back problems. The muscles of the torso must contract isometrically (with no movement) to resist movement and maintain a neutral spine. So, bottom line, always keep the spine neutral, and work on resisting movement when training the torso (such as doing side bridges).

Principle 6: Understand Torques: By definition, torque is force times distance. The greater the force or the greater the distance the forces acts from the point of rotation, the greater the torque. Applying this to strength training, the further the weight is from your body, the more torque on your spine. Limit your forward lean on squats and deadlifts so the lumbar spine will experience less torque.

No comments: