Monday, March 4, 2013

Beat All Day Restriction with Purposeful Movement

Lower back pain is a prevalent problem in today's society. Doesn't matter if you are a bodybuilder, desk-jockey, or an overweight blind man on a scooter---lower back pain happens to anyone. What most people don't understand is where there is more to lower back pain than just the lower back.

Most clients that I personally work with are people that work 8-10 hour days. The day is filled with limited movement--usually slouched over a desk with a computer monitor staring back at them. Ergonomically speaking, there is no other movement except to get up and use the bathroom or hit the cafeteria  Most sedentary desk workers eat their lunch...right at their desks!

Years ago, when I worked for corporate fitness I studied ergonomics for the working population. I visited groups of employees during lunch or in their cubicles for workshops on how to move better while confined to a 8 x 8 foot box. What I found out was not many people that are confined to a desk, rotate very much. They spin their office chairs, but the lumbar spine doesn't rotate much. There were complaints of "side tightness" and lower back stiffness--not pain--and a tremendous amount of restriction that made movement unbearable.

Ergonomically speaking, I was taught to teach employees to keep desk items CLOSE. That means I was teaching employees to keep their phones, staplers, and files close to them. I was teaching them to RESTRICT their movements! What I realized was that the ergonomics that I was taught by my group was curriculum supplied by big worker's compensation insurance companies. Obviously  we were teaching what insurance companies wanted employees to do---not move so much! Don't move it and you won't aggravate it. That was the mentality in the workplace. It saved thousands of dollars---but subtly damaged hundreds of backs!

As a personal trainer, restricting movement to avoid a client's confrontation with pain tolerance is not solving anything. The grain of our profession is simple: movement fixes everything: use it or lose it. And most people that sit all day are losing the basic anatomical movements that the back muscles are capable of performing.

Recently, I have been utilizing a stretch on myself and some of my clients that complain of low back pain. It's probably nothing new, but it uses a stability ball (which will take some practice and balance), and some strength. I wanted a stretch that integrated different parts of the torso and lumbar spine with accented movements to stretch areas that are normally not moving much on people. With some limits on range--depending on client's ability--the stretch was really doing some good. The ball's spherical shape allows for some lateral molding of the back that instantly causes a stretch in the lats, abductors and illacus.  Myself and my clients have been virtually exonerated of any low back pain or discomfort since performing this stretch daily:

What muscles this stretch hits?

Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) - This muscle helps stabilize and steady the hip and knee joints by putting tension on the iliotibial band of fascia

Pectineus - This muscle adducts the thigh and flexes the hip joint

Psoas - This muscles flexes the torso and thigh with respect to each other

External Oblique - This important muscles rotates the torso. Most people that sit all day, rotate very little--so this muscle stiffens up--feeling like a large velcro belt around the entire mid-torso.

Quadratus Lumborom  (QL) - This muscle alone helps to laterally flex the spine. Again, most people that sit all day do not laterally flex,  so this muscle stiffens up feeling like a gun holster is permanently attached to your waist.

Lattissimus Dorsi (LM) - This is your "wing" back muscle. Usually becomes tight with a slouched posture. During the stretch, this muscle is engaged when the arm is raised.

What I Like about this Stretch
It hits many muscles when your "settle" into the actual stretch. What I mean by settle, is when you can overcome most of the restriction that you will feel initially. The integration of many muscles really defines it as a "bang for your buck" drill in my book. Initially, the set up is tricky. Most trainers will need to assist a client at first. The tricky part is finding the correct size ball (in the video I am using a 54" ball. Check height recommendations for you). Secondly, placing your hip joint on the ball--or at least as close as possible) to the center of the ball's top surface can be a challenge. Once in the position, bring your outer arm back so that you can bring the lat into the stretch. Some people with poor external rotation and should pain, may have difficulty with this part. At this point, really outstretch the body and use your feet to 'anchor' you. 

By now, your inside leg and arm should hold you in position. Your outside arm is outstretched for lat involvement, and your outside leg will turn outwards to involve the posas, pectineus, internal/external oblique, TFL, quadratus femoris, illiacus, and quadratus lomborum. I have used this stretch for my athletic clients and my general population clients and it has worked well.

You can find more stretches and drills that address the lower back HERE.

1 comment:

  1. It is best ways to get relief from lower back pain or upper back pain, because the exercise keep very well of his body. Upper Back Pain Treatment


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