Spine Health

This week, we’ve got our very own resident Sports Scientist and level 4 Strength and Conditioning coach Mr Josh Cull himself to talk to you about Spine health.

In modern society, back issues and pain are extremely common due to the sedentary lifestyle of many people. This is due to a flexion intolerant spine being very common, many people are taught to believe that back pain is a result of a single ‘event’, when actually pain is due to cumulative trauma.

The easiest way to reduce back pain is to remove the cause of pain, as said before, flexion intolerant spines are very common, so why not just eliminate flexion of the spine, especially in the mornings as spinal discs are in a state of super hydration, Dr S.McGill actually says that the discs in our spines have a certain number of ‘bends’ before injury occurs. The musculature around in the core is actually designed to contract isometrically, to maintain constant stability of the spine.

So having said this, why are we constantly putting our spines under unnecessary pressure by doing endless amounts of isolation exercises such as crunches and sit ups. Instead we should be learning to use the core as a whole, and learning how to ‘brace’ the abdominals as this is the only way to enhance stability.

“True spine stability is achieved with a ‘balanced’ stiffening from the entire musculature, including, rectus abdominis, abdominal wall, quadratus lumborum, latissimus dorsi and the back extensors” 

S.McGill

The movement of spinal flexion (bringing the rib cage and the pelvis together) is very rarely used within sport or everyday life. Rather the core should be stiffened to allow the hips and shoulders to be loaded. This is apparent in weight lifting as the athlete is told to ‘brace’ to effectively transmit the power generated at the hips up through the torso.

(Designing Back Exercise: from Rehabilitation to Enhance Performance (S.Mcgill))

Shared with you by trainer and coach, Josh Cull.

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