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Exercise

3 Reasons Your Lower Back Hurts That Has Nothing To Do With Your Back

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Lower back pain is something most of us will deal with at some point in our lives. You bend over to pick up your kids or tie your shoelaces and BAM! out of nowhere your back goes out. An overwhelming number of low back injuries stem from chronically poor body mechanics and even more likely from poor everday posture.

If you’re reading this on your phone, take a moment to sit up straight and pull the phone up so your neck isn't being cranked downwards.

Here are three things you need to know about back pain:

1. Back Pain Worse After Standing- Extension Based
 Back Pain Worse After Sitting- Flexion Based

For those who suffer from extension based back pain this is likely caused by: Short Hip flexors, poor glute activity and a lack of anterior core stabilization. The combination of weak glute function with shortened hip flexors often leads to lumbar extension substituting for hip extension during activities such as deadlifting, jumping, and running. Put simply if you aren’t putting your glutes into it, you back will be. 

A sure fire postural sign a person is a candidate for extension based back pain is viewed from the side via anterior pelvic tilt, or the back of your pelvis is higher than the front.

I meant to take a buttfie

I meant to take a buttfie

Flexion based back pain often afflicts those who sit for long periods of time like office workers or truck drivers. The main muscle that creates problems for these individuals is the Psoas. This is the only hip flexor that remains active once you draw your leg up above 90 degrees. Those seeking hip flexion like during a squat will get lower back rounding instead. Their problems are aggravated by a host of other factors such as: Poor glute function, cervical spine positioning, lack of thoracic spine extension and poor anterior core stability.

Someone with this type of back pain is in a catch-22. They need to stop sitting so much but they likely sit a lot due to work. For this individual I would recommend setting a timer to periodically stand up and stretch to break up the monotony. Along with taking time each day to use a foam roller or lacrosse ball to break up any soft tissue adhesions formed in the hip flexor muscles.

2.     Not All Back Pain is Due to “Tight” Hips

From an anatomical standpoint the hip flexors are a combination of muscles: illiopsoas, sartorius, and rectus femoris.

Lets focus on the Psoas.

The psoas attaches through the side of the lumbar spine and connects to the discs in the area of T12-L5. Because of this vertebral origin point, the psoas is also involved in 360 degrees of spine stabilization.

For those who believe they have chronically tight hip flexors, stretching them isn’t going to magically solve the problem because the underlying cause may not be tight hips but an unstable spine and poor core strength. If a muscle is short and tight, stretching it won’t release any neural tone which only leads to it tightening back up afterwards.

Their issues may be solved simply through core and glute activation.

A properly performed plank will solve all that ales you. Not only because by staying in a neutral position will you decrease recruitment of the illiopsoas but also by squeezing the glutes hard you’ll force the muscle to relax due to reciprocal inhibition.

Talking about hips and glutes leads me to the final point

3.     Poor Internal-External Hip Rotation

A quick screen for both:

Need Internal Rotation 35 degrees

External Rotation 45 degrees

Less than stellar results?

Corrections:

Need Internal Rotation- Side Plank

External Rotation- Prone Plank

The muscles that resist internal rotation are all located on the outside of the hip. By stimulating these muscles it forces them to all stabilize the spine and possibly allow your hips and core to work correctly.

On the other side of the equation are the muscles that resist external rotation found on the inside and anterior aspect of the hip. All these muscles co-mingle when it comes to core stability. Like in the aforementioned tip, when a properly performed prone plank is performed, the hip flexors are held in a tight stretched position to help the hips and spine stabilize.

Correcting these restrictions can bring relief to those suffering from chronic lower back pain. These screen are the beginning to figuring out if you need more mobilization or simply needed more stability. 

Fit Pros: Quit Being the Personal Trainer from 2007

"Man Instagram is stupid!"

"Only kids use snapchat!"

"Ain't nobody watching your videos!"

"Social media is a waste of time"

These are things I hear from the same people who still work, market and train their clients like it's the year 2007 instead of 2017. 

I get an advantage by working in a shared space where I get to observe various styles and philosophies that run the gamut. This allows me to see, in my opinion, what works and what doesn't. There are very few secrets in our building as a quick google search will show you what each person is up to. 

Are they running google adwords? Yelp ads? Groupon? Thumbtack? Facebook ads?

You then take notice of:
Did they increase business?
Did said clients stick around past the introductory period? 

Some trainers are able to bring in people, presumably either free or at a really discounted rate, but after one month I never see these individuals again. This leads to the biggest take-home as a professional.

Success leaves clues

You have two ears, two eyes, and one mouth. Use them in that order

The biggest learning opportunity is right in front of you. You can always peruse the internet but there's nothing better than to watch a live case study. I would not listen to a professional who isn't successfully retaining clients. I will however observe them.

Some professionals teeter right on the line of success and failure, I did for a long time. What are they doing well that I might not be. You should always be looking around for an opportunity to grow as a person and professional.

Exercise Breakdown: Proper Shoulder Blade Motion During Rows

If you've followed me for any extended period of time you'll know one of my favorite yet easily butchered exercises are ROWS!!!

One thing that I continue to see is the idea of "STAYING PACKED" as opposed to allowing for free motion of the shoulder blade. The shoulder blade needs to be able to move freely on the rib cage to maintain positioning of the ball in the socket.

See if you keep the shoulder blade packed (squeezed hard down and back) then you create a lot of torque going across the glenohumeral joint. To put it into plain English: the more you stress out that part of your shoulder, the greater the chances you will create some sort of impingement. By not allowing the scapula to move, you create a lat dominant style row (I.E: imbalanced movement).

This is in contrast to proper movement during a row where you're allowing protraction of the scapula and retraction when pulling your arm back. It all comes down to this:

When your arm moves forward, so should your shoulder blade. When your arm moves back , your shoulder blade should move back. This concept applies to pull ups as well.

Buyer Beware: The Expert Trainer Who Can Help You With EVERYTHING

I LOVE using this photo

I LOVE using this photo

Piggybacking off a post during the final weeks of December about deciding to be great at one maybe two things and punting all else; I'd like to elaborate around the context of Personal Training. 

As a consumer one should be weary of hiring a coach who claims they're an expert at all things fitness and health. No one coach is THE BEST at building muscle, losing weight, sports performance, rehabilitative exercise, and nutrition.

Lets take Mike Reinold of Champion Physical Therapy based in Boston, Mass who is an extremely talented Strength and Conditioning coach and PT (Physical Therapist). Does one think he is not capable of working with physique competitors? While he's most likely well versed in the process, his main business is working with athletes and post rehab patients. He wouldn't be setting himself or his client up for the best chance at succeeding.

On the other end of the spectrum lets take Bret Contreras who runs the Glute Lab based out of Phoenix, AZ. As a PhD researcher he's one of the leaders in glute hypertrophy (muscle building) and if someone came to him with a SLAP tear of the shoulder, Bret would have an idea of what to do but this type of client would be better suited to someone like Mike because that's his area of expertise. 

Each coach is great at what they do and would most likely know what to do with their respective clients. If they however were able to swap people, they would have even better chances at success.  Great coaches are well versed at all aspects of training but they know what one or two things they're actually "experts" in. 

I am a former professional cook and Precision Nutrition level 1 coach, I feel confident in cooking healthy tasty meal prep for my clients. In addition to that, I am a well versed strength coach who uses strength to aide in weight loss and rehab. 

I know how to put muscle on, as well as improving sport performance, but if I received a client whom I thought a colleague would better suited at aiding the client, they'd be on their way with a referral.

In my opinion, looking for a coach who can succinctly state what they're GREAT at is one of the things I would look for in a coach or personal trainer.

Jack of all trades, master of none

How I Build Strong Clients Safely

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This January marks the seven year anniversary that I've been paid to build strong resilient humans. In that time I can't even count on my two hands how many people I've hurt or injured!

That's because that number is ZERO!!
(One moment while I run around my apartment knocking on every piece of wood ten times over)

To an outsiders perspective my client programs don't wow your socks off. Some might say they look repetitive and boring. But what they don't see on paper is the end result of 2-3 sessions a week after a year. I help individuals get strong as an ox while also improving their mobility and joint health.

My training is all steak and no sizzle

There is no rotating circus moves on a bosu ball or hanging from a bar adductor work (I can't make this stuff up people!). What you will find are time tested movements and exercises that work. I vary my programs up by changing up tempo, loading protocols and positioning.

If you want to make individuals strong you need to make them good at lifting. I coach my clients toward mastery of movements. As they master the movement and get stronger, I can then open up my playbook of exercises if the client wishes to try them or if I think it will help them towards their bigger goals.

What My Programs Consist Of:

  • Squat
  • Hip Hinge (deadlifts)
  • Vertical Push & Pull
  • Horizontal Push & Pull
  • Loaded Carries
  • Anti-Extension Core 
  • Anti-Rotation Core
  • Select Flexion Based Core
  • Arm Work (Cuz who doesn't like a good arm pump)

All of the above alternate between unilateral and bilateral movement. Also incorporating in frontal plane (side-to-side) and transverse plane (thinking rotational) specific patterns.

Example:

Day 1

A1) Front Squat
A2) Chest supported DB Row
B1) Sumo Deadlift
B2) Face Pulls
C1) Side plank
C2) One arm KB Racked Carry

Day 2

A1) DB Bench Press
A2) TRX Inverted Rows
B1) DB Z-Press
B2) Farmer's Walks
C1) Plank
C2) Prone Trap Raise

Day 3

A1) Split Squat
A2) Pull Ups
B1) Hip Thrusts
B2) Seated One Arm Cable Row
C1) Pallof Press
C2) Waiters Walk

Day 4

A1) Barbell Front Loaded Reverse Lunge
A2) DB Floor Press
B1) Single Leg RDL
B2) Chest Supported DB Row
C1) Kneeling Stability Ball Rollouts
C2) One Arm KB Racked Walk