The spine is designed to move, here are some reasons why core training with the unskilled is causing issues
The back is ment to bend....
Back pain is a huge issue. Over the years we have seen the emergence of “core” training. It huge and nearly everyone has jumped on board, but is it more of a hindrance then a savior for back sufferers?
I see an abundance of shit on social media these days, different people from the fitness industry promoting their services and business as assisting back pain sufferers by selling core training. Get your core stable and it will fix or avoid back pain. Well I am here to burst your little PT bubble, because its bullshit. You are actually contributing to the problem.
Have you heard someone say or maybe has happened to you, “I was bending over to tie my shoes", "I went to pick up something light off the ground" or "I got out of bed", "I bent over side ways with a bit of rotation" and "MY BACK WENT OUT”. But they have "been lifting 100kg at the gym for 5 reps on dead lift and hold a plank for 5 minutes so my core is fine". WTF? I cop this as a physio from patients and it annoys me because if you were taught differently you wouldn't have simple issues.
Here is why such a small movement causes problems despite training like an animal!
Static holds like all your variations of planking, superman’s and the like are actually promoting bracing, rigidity and global muscle co-contraction of the spine for long periods of time. Also, swearing black and blue to engage your posterior chain, hip hinge, don’t bend your back all these cues you scream while your client is under high load do not transfer to low load repetitive everyday activities. YES you need to hold, control and stiffen the trunk during peak loads on the spine with certain exercies in your 30 minute session, BUT you also need to be able to relax the core, move the core and use the spine for the remaining 23hours and 30minutes outside your session! If you can't, you will suffer simple injuries.
Teaching someone to hold their core maximally, brace and co-contract the all muscles of the spine and trunk to stabalise the spine for painless exercise or rehab is garbage. This type of exercise promotion is causing a change in normal, natural and correct movement in people and is adding to our problem of sore backs.
WHY? Because people are starting to think it is normal to brace, be ridgid and guard their back for normal everyday movements too, rather then relax and let the body do what the body does best under low load repetitive everyday movements. I spend more time educating client on how to relax and bend to use their spine now then ever before.
Your spine is one of the most resilient, beautiful pieces of mechanical genius every invented or evolved for whichever way your inclined to look at it. It is there to move, it flexes, extends, rotates and side bends as well as combines all these separate movements at times to be functional and allow us to move in 3 dimensions. NOT hold in a static one dimension (PLANK) or move in a ridged two dimensions (DEAD LIFT).
Just take a look at the anatomy of the spine. If the spine were ment to be ridged, braced and guarded would we have 24 vertebrae? No we would have a pole from arse to head. The 24 vertebrae are aligned in a way that allows us three-dimensional movement. The spine has a wonderful muscular system that crosses each segment at the deepest level to gain a mechanical advantage and move each segment on each other. As well go further out we find bigger muscles that cross greater distances and segments and allow us to move even further with more strength and power to the system.
Liken the spine to a football team of 24 players. If they all trained to move in one pattern all the time then they would be highly predictable, highly inflexible, only perform well in one movement and not function well when they are required to do more. However if we broke that team of 24 down into 3 key areas like the spine is (Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar), then allowed each player to move individually and freely, work together with other players in their designated roles, relax and move when others need to work and also be able to work hard together as a whole team at times, we now have many efficient movement patterns that are a winner every time. This is the normal way of the spine!
We need to start paying homage to the beauty of our spine and its many movement, use it effectively and efficiently, respect its natural stability and keep it simple.
If it isn’t living up to what its ment to do and being painful then train it as a team of individuals, return normal movement and motor patterns in their key areas and as a team, build strength in those patterns then add some endurance and your set.
In later blogs I will look at core exercises, why it doesn’t matter what exercise you do it’s good for your back and MOVE your back to reduce pain even when your injured! So keep checking back, I will link them up!
In the mean time bend your back and stay fighting fit!