Archive for April 2012

Why we need to emphasize low back pain exercises not abdominals when training runners.

An emphasis is always placed on core exercises  (anterior abdominals) over any type of exercise when it comes to training runners. Unfortunately little attention is paid to the low back (specifically low back pain exercises) , glutes, or hip flexors. Without strong glutes and a low back that can support ones self properly. The hamstrings will not be able to generate enough force / power even though you might place particular attention to strengthen these three muscles. A key when training or working out in any sport is that any one muscle  is only as strong as the weakest link in the entire kinetic chain. The kinetic chain being a term used by most sports medicine and exercise science professionals to describe a sequence or a chain of events. In this case multiple muscles engaging to complete motion of the skeletal system. The curl-up done on an exercise ball dramatically increases the number of muscles that have to engage and stabilize you during the exercise. This exercise will activate your COMPLETE core -> back muscles (posterior abdominals) and all the abdominal muscles. The key point to performing low back pain exercises, such as this one is to only curl-up as far as the contraction / activation / tightening of your abdominal muscles and flex forward no further. Note no pressure should be placed on your neck by your arms. Perform 3 sets of 20 for a total core workout. If you wish to make things more difficult push out abs while trying to curl-up or let a little more air out of the ball to force more contraction of low back muscles, glutes, and other leg muscles for stabelizing  your body while performing the exercise. If you have any questions please email me at  

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Mckenzie Exercises for Better Back Stability

If you do not have a strong low back to act as an fixum putnam or fixed position one would not be able to generate enough force to complete most tasks in space. Proper movement of the pelvis in particular is critical in the gait cycle.  A misalignment of the pelvis due to muscle imbalances between the abdominals and the low back can cause a huge reduction in a runners performance independent of cardio fitness level. A low back exercise to ensure that your low back muscles (or posterior abdominals) will limit pelvic tilt and creating proper pelvis rotation is a Back Extension Press-up. I want to make sure that you do not confuse this with a normal push-up. In yoga it is referred to as a Cobra Push-up. This is a great exercise for anyone who has pain shooting down the leg. This will reduce that and get the pain to move toward the back (this called centralization) and eventually result in no pain. The primary muscles that will be involved in this exercise is the errector spianae group and gluteus maximus. The secondary muscles that will plat a part in this exercise is  hamstrings, rectus abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques To perform this exercise follow the following steps: 1. Lie face down on the ground with arms in the push-up position and legs outstretched. (maintain a rigid body in a straight line) 2. Press up with the arms only until the torso is off the ground. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, maintaining normal breathing throughout 3. Lower arms, bending at the elbows, and return to the original position.  

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Hip Flexor Stretch

The hip flexors are comprised of your psoas major, psoas minor, and iliacus muscles. The psoas muscle in particular is one of the most commonly used muscles in the body yet most people have never heard of it. The main role of the psoas muscle is to flex (or bend) the hip. For example, when doing a situp that brings the your body (including the lower back) away from the ground and towards the front of the thigh / leg, the hip flexors will flex the spine upon the pelvis. The importance of this muscle is due to the frontal attachment on the vertebrae, rotation of the spine will stretch the psoas. Tightness of the psoas can result in lower back pain by compressing the lumbar discs. When you compound that with a sedentary lifestyle  this forces the muscle become even stuck in a shortened / tight position. It will cause low back pain, anterior hip pain, restrict hip extension, and even loss of feeling in the anterior thigh do to the femoral nerve piercing the posas muscle. When this muscle is stuck in a shortened position to often it will cause your lower spine to be pulled forward creating irritation of the posterior spine joints. To maintain good hip function, flexibility, and low back neutrality in an upright position it is key to maintain a healthy and lengthened psoas. Usually stretching this muscle will not completely resolve this problem in and of itself. But maintain good psoas length is vastly important. Below you will find directions to a hip flexor stretch that I prescribe to all my patients that have any of the above listed issues. Hip flexor stretch Stand two feet back from step or chair 1. Place Right foot on step 2. Keep trunk upright and pelvis facing forward 3. Bring body weight forward while bending L knee slightly and allowing heel to lift (will be stretching the left 4. hip flexor if right leg is elevated). 5. As you come forward, lift left arm reaching diagonally. 6. Reach arm forward in 9 spots as if there was a tic-toe box making sure to reach arm toward each box.

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