Secrets to a Healthy Low Back & Sexy Six Pack – Part II
By, Mark Wine CSCS; NASM PT, PES, CES
Part I continued…
Perform Self-Myofascial Release therapy – better known as foam rolling; roll your lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors.
Incorporate total body complex movements into your workouts – ex: Dumbbell Front Squats is a great exercise that can be performed and works your core
Incorporate a proper core workout / program – the program should incorporate isometric holds (ex: plank), strength exercises (ex: hanging leg raises), power exercises (ex: medicine ball slams), or a combinations of all three (ex: stability ball horizontal knee in). Check out www.functionalmusclefitness.com, click on “exercise of the week,” and watch the videos of all the exercises mentioned.
Perform Self Myofascial Release (SMR) Therapy. Have you seen people in the gym rolling around on foam rollers? This is SMR treatment. SMR treatment is active / corrective flexibility that puts pressure onto soft tissue (fascia tissue) and breaks up any adhesions / tears. Different stresses and strains from external forces causes little tears in soft tissue. When soft tissue is damaged it can heal damaged creating knots. Knots can lead to excessive tightness. When a muscle is tight, it effects the functional movement pattern, which often leads to an entirely separate injury and/or strain. The human body is interconnected, one thing effects another and another… Certain musculature often leads to lower back pain. Performing SMR, followed by static stretching, on the gluteal maximus (butt), hamstrings (back of the leg), hip flexors (to the sides of the pelvis), and your back muscles (muscles that run along the spin to your lower back) can help alleviate pain and aid in healing the lower back. Perform SMR and stretching post workout, every workout. Discipline and dedication to this technique will result in a Healthy Low Back & Sexy Six Pack.
The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends that SMR be performed as part of a corrective flexibility program. Beginners should include this into their workout regimen religiously. The result, improved muscular balance and joint motion through autogenic inhibition. Autogenic Inhibition is activated when a stretch is held for 20-30 seconds. The tension stimulates the Golgi Tendon Organs that override muscle spindles in the muscle being stretched, thus relaxing the overactive muscle and creating a more optimal length-tension relationship. The technique involved with SMR is as follows; roll along the muscle until you find a spot that is painful, of absolute tenderness, and sitting on that spot for 20-30 seconds until some of the pain has subsided. Only then do you continue to roll slowly along the muscle until you find another spot of absolute tenderness and pain. You continue this method until your leg has been fully rolled out. Post SMR, perform static stretches (i.e. hold the stretch) for 20-30 seconds in order to create optimal lengthening in the muscle that has been broken down through foam rolling.
Another method of SMR is continually rolling along the entirety of the muscle. By keeping constant pressure on the muscle, without holding on one area, you prevent pooling while breaking up the soft tissue. This method, active flexibility, uses reciprocal inhibition to improve soft tissue extensibility and increase neuromuscular efficiency. Reciprocal Inhibition is muscle inhibition of the main muscle, the prime mover (agonist), thus inhibiting the muscle that works in direct opposition (antagonist). This is a more optimal SMR of choice pre-workout when one is feeling excessively tight. Follow this method with functional flexibility training, or better known as dynamic stretching (active stretching while moving, no holding stretches).
Incorporate total body complex movements into your workouts. Complex total body movements are movements that require a high degree of core strength and energy expenditure. Examples of these movements are Front Squats, Back Squats, Burpee, Clean Press, and many more (for videos of these exercises visit www.functionalmusclefitness.com and click “exercise of the week”). Complex movements require a high degree of energy output, which burn more calories, thus resulting in greater fat reduction with the stimulation of lean muscle growth. Fat loss and lean muscle growth help shred that six pack. The best way to develop your core is not through simple flexion and extension (although useful), but rather through these complex movements. Complex movements are generally positions where your core and back support the body. Your core and back must become adapted to these movements. Only training these positional movements will help prevent / heal lower back pain while shredding the core.
Incorporate a proper core workout / program. WebMD says this in regards to back pain; “after you have had low back pain once, the pain is likely to come back. To avoid further problems, keep your back and stomach muscles strong, use good posture, learn the safest way to lift heavy objects, and learn to manage stress.” Incorporating a core workout routine that safely balances flexion and extension of the spine, functional movements, total body complex movements, and discusses the importance of nutrition is vitally important to achieving a Healthy Low Back and a Sexy Six Pack (we will touch on nutrition in future articles).
A good program should contain a balance between strength / power movements and isometric holds. A program should not jump you into an advanced level when you are a beginner, it should progress you through various levels. If there is no progression your technique will be jeopardized, which will lead to limited results and possible injuries. More importantly, you will become discouraged and quit the program, completely wiping out the possibility of any results.
Having a Healthy Low Back and a Sexy Six Pack is a lifestyle. It takes extreme dedication in every regards. To maintain / achieve a six pack you must focus on nutrition, utilizing proper movements, be consistent with your routine (do not miss days or workouts), and SMR / static stretch. In order to develop and maintain / treat back pain one must look at it like a job. There is not one part of the day that you should not be working on posture. There is not one workout that you should not follow it with SMR and static stretching. There is not one workout you should focus on flexion and not extension, or visa versa. There is not one workout that should focus solely on flexion / extension and neglect stability or proper lordosis back position movements. These simple tips can save you thousands of dollars in medical bills.
2. Dr. Michael Roizen
4. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training (3rd edition)
By, National Academy of Sports Medicine
Editors: Michael A. Clark, Scott C. Lucett and Rodney J. Corn