Low Back Pain Be Gone!

This article is not about becoming President or commanding others. Rather, it is about how to get into a position of power in the weight room for athletic performance. We have all heard about the almighty posterior chain for quite some time now, but the thing is, most people can’t access this ‘chain’. So many of my members at my gym have terrible posture and are only used to using their quads when trying to pick something up. This is probably due to sitting around most of their time leading to kyphosis (rounded upper back in the thoracic region) and most of them have become so used to ‘bending at the back’ to pick things up. These two problems combined, lead to position in which all power is lost. Force is then transmitted through a rounded spine and worse; they are relying mainly on their quads to try and get that ‘arched and neutral’ lower back that we are after. This is impossible and will not lead to any strength or power development. So what do we do to correct this problem?

These exercises that I will show and describe below can and should be used by everyone. For a novice, this would be a part of the main workout. For an advanced guy, this would be part of the warm up. I am coming off two herniated discs and these movements were key in being able to continue my training and restoring lumbar health. Ok, here we go. The first progression is just a kneeling hip extension. For this, you will kneel on the ground and simply drive your butt back to your ankles, maintain, lumbar extension and ‘low back arch’ the entire time. We normally do this for higher reps, 20-25.

The second move that I came up with a little over a year ago will work wonders for any athletes or people that cannot seem to get the low back arch and correct hip extension. I have found that if we try to go right into some kind of simple pick up move, either RDL, picking up a kettlebell or even band good mornings, most people bend at the back, thus a lack of power potential. You can tell them until you are blue in the face all the correct cues, but 90% of the time, it will not work. I have them perform a ‘plate RDL’ in which they are holding 25 pound plates at their hips, with their back to a wall. Normally we want the feet about 1 foot or less away from the wall. Now I have the athlete bring the plates down to their feet without (very important!) letting them come off the side of the legs. This will gently and easily put the athlete into hip extension and then I instruct them to keep driving their butt back until it touches the wall. Another point would be to have the majority of the bodyweight on the heels during this. If it looks good and they are feeling a stretch in the back of their hammies, then right on, you are good to go.

Finally, another great move to teach hip extension and a ‘position of power’ is the kettlebell hip drive. You simply hold the kettlebell behind you with both hands. I instruct to only move the kettlebell by driving your butt back into it. Keep the chin up, low back in extension and shoulder blades pulled together. Once again, go for a stretch in the back of the legs.

I know that everyone wants to start with heavy squats and deadlifts, but it will all be useless and dangerous if you can’t recruit and activate your posterior chain and get into hip extension. These progressions work for anyone and I can tell you first hand, as I said above, they can be great strength and rehab work for those of you with disc problems. See, nothing to do with being president, told you!