These are our top 5 strategies we utilize with clients in the gym, whether they are in the rehab setting or recovering and transitioning to full activity again.
1. Engage The Obliques
Using the obliques will help you support ribcage movement that is beneficial for spine health. A deadbug is an easy exercise to implement to get started.
All you have to do is be flat on the ground with the arms reaching up and the knees pointing at the ceiling. Take a full exhale to get the ribs down and in. Keeping them there, inhale thru the nose and move the opposite arm and leg away from each other. Exhale on the return. You should feel the outer abdominals kicking here.
2. Do Unilateral Moves
Unilateral moves allow you to shift from one side to the other. This initiates useful rotations in the body where one side opens up and the other side closes down. If we can’t move from one side to another, then we essentially can’t walk very well, leaving the back very rigid.
Using a Suitcase Deadlift variation is useful in maintaining spinal control by preventing you from tipping all the way over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Simply perform the deadlift with a weight on one side without tipping over. You will feel the unweighted side obliques work harder and the weighted side leg work harder.
It’s a good way to introduce unilateral movement from a bilateral stance.
4. Reduce sit-ups and crunches
Reduce the amount of sit-ups and crunches you do. If you haven’t read our previous blog about it, you can find it here
In short, repetitive spinal motions under increased speeds can actually weaken the ligaments and cause the potential for a dis herniation. Try changing the abs to planks, chops, deadbugs, or literally anything that doesn’t cause you to do 500 crunching motions in a row in under a minute.
5. Don’t overextend the spine for movements
If you start to increase the arch in the low back, all you are doing is restricting motion and creating more tension. This may be useful for lifting maximal weight, but not when you are living your daily life. By reducing excessive arching for everything, you can reduce the amount of compression on your spinal discs, leaving them healthier in the long run.
Start implementing some of these strategies today and get the gains you have been looking for all along.
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Dr. Peter Dionisopoulos is the owner and founder of Dynamic Performance & Rehab. He has worked with many high-level athletes and military personnel, but his true passion is to help active adults maintain their lifestyle by providing information and potential solutions to their aches and pains so they can continue with the activities they love.