8 out of 10 Americans report having experienced significant back pain at some point in their lives. That's almost everybody!
Many the cases of back pain or from chronic misuse, under-use, or repetitive stress patterns. Basically, movement imbalances.
If you currently exercise and do you have back pain, you are most likely not doing a balanced workout.
If you don't exercise currently, get moving!
Either way, following these five simple steps will help you restore function of your body so that you feel good when you move.
Step 1 - Relax the muscles
If you've followed my training for a while then you know that I start many workouts with Static Back. The reason is that this helps to bridge the gap and transition you from old tension patterns and help you relax into a more aligned position. When you are on your back on the floor, you are using a level plane to make sure that your hips and shoulders are symmetrical.
By having your hips at 90°, you are ensuring that any tightness in the hip flexor does not tug on your lower back. So your back is given a chance to rest and settle in this position.
step 2 - engage the muscles (lightly)
Bruce Lee used to do static isometric holds in order to build strength. Pushing against an immovable object is a great way to activate muscles without the risk of too big of a range of motion. Activating muscles in this basic position can help bridge the gap between a relaxed and balance musculature, and a strong muscle.
Step three - Core 3 x 3
Moving along, we want to begin isolating basic movements. One great way to conceptualize all the movements you want to put your body through, is called Core 3x3. Imagine a grid, and the left axis of the grid has the three main body parts of the core: hips, shoulders, and everything in between. Along with top of the grid, we have the three main range of motion, or three dimensions or planes. Front to back, side to side, and twisting or rotation.
Every workout needs to include all 9 boxes. Think of this as your checklist. Before you can call it a balanced workout, you need to go through Core 3x3.
Step 4 - Strength at "end range"
We all know that we should stretch. This is definitely true, but I'd like to add one distinction. When you just stretch, you don't necessarily gain any control in the new range of motion. When you stretch and then add muscle engagement, you are not only increasing flexibility but you were also increasing your active range of motion.
This is much healthier for the joints. So at this point of your workout, you want to begin thinking about basic body movements, and start building up your strength at the end of points of those movements. The main end points would be hip flexion, hip extension, lumbar flexion, thoracic extension, and shoulder mobility.
Here's an example of how you can strengthen the quads out there in the range.
Step 5 - Full Body Range of Motion
Remember when you were a kid and just played all day long? You rolled in the grass, crawled like a bear, climbed up the trees. This is the place in the workout for those types of movements. Notice that this is step five, after you've already done so much prep to get you to this point. The reason is that as adults we have all lost the ability to just play like a kid, because we have so many imbalances.
As a child, you probably could just jump into this step. As an adult, sorry, you need to do steps 1 through 4 too.
Follow these 5 steps to a balanced workout, and you'll not only look better, but you'll feel better too.
Now you know the method to my "madness." You know the secret sauce. Now it's up to you to use it. Keep moving.