Category Archives: Low back

Which exercise caused low back pain?

I recently had a client mention he has had some low back tightness on one side after his last couple of workouts. I found this out after he finished a really nice set of deadlifts, to which I asked about adding more weight. His response was that his back has been bugging him so he wants to not push the deadlift. I can certainly agree with that.

Given that response, however, I gave extra attention to form on his next set, in case I had missed something. I didn’t; or at least I still couldn’t see anything wrong. Note that this is not someone with a history of low back pain. I asked if he felt it during the workout or after, and he replied that he felt it later. I also asked if anything had changed in his life – overtime, stress, sleep or nutrition changes. He answered that all was normal.

Hmm. The deadlift is the obvious culprit, but it really looked good. In fact I had recently switched him from a straight bar deadlift to a trap bar deadlift, which had a positive effect on his form (he tended toward a low hip deadlift which to me is a sign that the trap bar may be a better choice). The reason this change struck me as relevant is that the soreness had been for the past few sessions yet he switched from straight bar to trap bar before his last session. Logically it seemed unlikely that both versions would yield the same back tightness. He also mentioned that it was one side only. His deadlift is square: No shifts to the side, no one hip higher than the other, no bulging spinal erectors on one side. So how would this yield (or contribute to) low back soreness on one side?

I took a closer look at his workout sheet to see if something else could be involved. The single leg glute bridges and half kneeling band Pallof press both caught my attention. Both are great exercises that can contribute to a happy back by strengthening the muscles that support it. But both also could yield movements that disrupt the low back if his brain chooses that path.

The single leg glute bridge, when done with a rib flare (not desired), or with too much range of motion, can be driven by lumbar extension instead of hip extension. Even though glute bridges are often used as an exercise to help someone with low back pain, if form is off, it can contribute. The fact that he was doing the single leg glute bridge (versus a two leg one) makes more sense as a contributor to unilateral back discomfort than does the bilateral deadlift. As I thought about it, I remembered that he had previously mentioned having a hard time feeling glute bridges in his glutes.

I watched his form carefully when he got to the single leg glute bridges and noticed that he was exploding up and his ribcage was flaring a bit in the process. Bingo? I cued him to bring the ribcage to the pelvis, and to slow down. I then watched him struggle with my ribcage to pelvis cue, so I asked him to engage his abs. This cue worked perfectly, and the rib flare in his glute bridge decreased. He also slowed the pace down. I can’t recall his exact reaction, but it was something along the lines of ‘huh’.

During his next set, I ask him to finish a bit lower this time. This cue often helps for those who extend the back during a glute bridge as it is often the point at which hip extension ROM runs out that they take over with lumbar extension. Reduce the range and they don’t need to use the lumbar end range. This worked to get rid of the extra back extension that remained with the previous cue. I also asked him to hold for a second at the top. Often when people have a hard time feeling their glutes in an exercise, just giving it an extra hold can make all the difference.

At this point I was fairly sure it was the glute bridge that was the culprit in his back tightness, but I knew the half kneeling band Pallof press had the potential for this as well.

Like the single leg glute bridge, the half-kneel band Pallof press (really all variations of Pallof press) is a great exercise. It is typically considered a lateral core exercise, meaning it works primarily the muslces on the side of your core, or the obliques.

The problem with Pallof presses is that, depending on the individual doing them, it might not be working the lateral core. In the past couple of years I’ve become aware that many people do not work their lateral core when doing lateral core exercises. A lot of people feel Pallof presses in their back. If you have never asked clients where they feel Pallof presses (or chops, lifts, or side planks…), you really should. I suspect you will be surprised how many are not feeling it where you think they do. In some cases putting fingers on their side can help them to fire these muscles, while in others this simply gives you confirmation that these lateral core muscles are not doing much.

After his set of the half-kneeling band Pallof press, I asked my client where he felt it. He said his abs, so I asked side or front, noting ideally he’d feel it in one side. He said both (abs and side). I watched his next set and it looked good. Since it looked good and he did not feel it in his back, I crossed it off the suspect list.

At the end of that session I felt relatively confident that the tightness he had been feeling in his back was from his single leg glute bridges, but I maintained a degree of uncertainty until I heard back from him two days later with confirmation that his back was not tight.

It makes sense if you think about it. Every muscle in the body has multiple functions. Given that, how can we be sure that every brain is going to pick the muscles you think it should to perform an exercise? The brain has a collection of personal experience and unique anatomic features to consider when choosing what muscles to tap for a given task. In the case of the Pallof press, that may or may not include obliques; and in the case of single leg glute bridges that may include a larger contribution from spinal erectors than glutes.

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa, Canada, who was an engineer in a previous career and thus loves any opportunity to assess (and ideally solve) a problem.

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A variation on a new glute bridge variation

Last month I saw a great video posted by Bret Contreras showing a variation on a bodyweight glute bridge that very effectively targets the glutes. The reason it’s effective is that he basically fires up the whole body in a manner that prevents some of the typical “cheats” that people often do when trying to do glute bridges.

While glute bridges seem like an easy exercise (lie on your back, lift your butt up. how hard can it be?), the reality for many is that they feel glute bridges everywhere but their butt. When I ask clients where they feel a glute bridge, I often get some combination of hamstrings, back, quads, and abs. This is not everyone – some people do glute bridges and feel their glutes – but it is more than the minority.

This glute bridge with frog pumps that Bret posted struck me as a great option, so I gave it a try. And it was indeed a great option. Check it out here.

Essentially it’s a glute bridge but with feet flat against each other, flatten the lumbar spine, push the elbows into the floor, and bring the chin to the chest.

I did like it, but I opted for two minor changes:
- instead of chin to chest, I went for a neutral neck alignment, which looks like a packed neck, or what I call “ugly neck”. Take a look at my chins in the video and you’ll see why I call it ugly neck. I opted for this because I know some of my clients would have a hard time with holding the chin to chest position.
- Instead of feet flat, I went for feet angled to each other. Many people will be fine with the feet together position, but I personally found it irritating for my hips as I don’t have great hip mobility. I also have a few clients whose knees didn’t like the feet together position. So the angled feet position was a nice alternative for those with either hip or knee stuff.

Here’s a video of this modification:

If you find you have a hard time feeling your glutes when you do do glute bridges, try out Bret’s variation instead, and if your neck, knees, or hips don’t love that variation then try my variation to the variation.

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, owns a personal training studio in Ottawa that specializes in getting people stronger and moving better.

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Bend at the hips, not the knees, and definitely not the back

Do you ever get low back pain? And can you do this?

My guess is that if you do get low back pain, you probably can’t hip hinge. As I note in the video – be strict with your form. If you can’t feel whether the dowel (or broom handle, just something very light and straight) is coming off your butt or if your head is moving from it, or if your upper back is arching away from it, then get someone to watch you, video yourself, or use a mirror. This is one of the few times I want you to be critical of yourself. If you can’t bend over to the point where your back is almost parallel with the floor while keeping the dowel touching those 3 points, then that’s a problem. Because really what it means is that when you bend over doing normal daily activities, you’re probably bending in your low back. And for many people, doing that hundreds or thousands of time (365 days per year – how many times a day and how many years – it multiplies up!) is a big problem for their back.

If I’m wrong – if you can hip hinge well and you have low back pain – please comment below as I’ll be very interested to talk with you.

I’m in no way trying to suggest that this is the magic pill for low back pain. What I AM saying is that bending at the hips instead of the back tends to reduce the amount of extra strain on your back, which usually makes your back happier.

What about those doctors who say to bend at the knees instead of the back? If you could see me now, you’d see that I’m shaking my head. Bending at the knees instead of the back is a great way to develop knee pain. It’s also impractical. Think about it – if you are bending to reach something that’s low and in front of you, how will bending at the knees get you there? When bending at the knees, you go straight down. So it’s practical for something you’re picking up at your feet, but if it’s something in front of you, not so much. And even with the item directly below you, if you don’t have phenomenal ankle and hip mobility and a very stable core, it’s not going to work well, because your heels will come off the floor which will shift your knees foreward, and your back will round. Not a great position for most people. Bending at the hips on the other hand – that’s gold! Look how big your hip muscles are! Yes I am saying you have a big butt. At least in comparison to your knees. Those hip muscles were built for bending, so use them.

Work on the two-legged hip hinge above if you can’t do it, and think about incorporating that into your daily life. Pay attention to even the little things, like brushing your teeth: I bet when you lean forward to spit, you bend at the low back. Try bending at the hips instead: it gets you to the same place but your back will prefer it.

Once you get to the bottom of the two-legged hip hinge, start to bend your knees, and you’ll open up a whole world of heavy lifting potential that is much safer for your back. Some of you recognize that what I just described is actually a deadlift. Sure is! And what a great exercise. Head over to this post if you want some guidance on what a good and a bad deadlift looks like. Please do keep in mind that using great form is not a free ticket to lift stuff that’s too heavy for you – common sense is still your good friend. Don’t alienate her.

There are some scenarios where a one-legged hip hinge is a better option for picking stuff up. In the gym we refer to this as a single leg Romanian deadlift, and those of you who have great trainers are saying “hey, I do that in my workout”. Yes, if your trainer has you doing single leg Romanian deadlifts (or SL RDLs) and is vigilant about working on your form, it’s probably a fair assumption that he or she is a good trainer. Unless you look like a weeping willow while doing your SL RDL – that’s a pretty sure sign you don’t have a good trainer.

Here’s a video of the single leg RDL.

What’s that it looks like the bird drinking the water?

Bird drinking water RDL

That’s the one we use at Custom Strength to reinforce what I mean when I say a hip hinge. One of my clients was asking if I had a top hat for them to wear. Think I may go buy one to see if it improves their ability to hip hinge. Anyone know where to find a top hat in Ottawa?

If you’re looking for some more exercise and movement ideas for someone who has low back problems, you may be interested in this article, “6 Exercises for Low Back Health“. Just please note this point near the top of that post:

“If daily living causes you low back pain, I strongly suggest that you look to a health care practitioner as your primary source of guidance for your back health. I won’t suggest what type of professional you see, just that someone who is a doctor, osteopath, physical therapist, chiropractor, athletic therapist, or massage therapist sees and hopefully provides some treatment for your back.”

 

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, is the owner and one of the personal trainers at Custom Strength in Ottawa. If you’re in Ottawa and you are thinking ‘I could really use a trainer who thinks like this’, you’re in luck – we’ve got a summer special promotion at the moment.

Crunches, Leg Raises and Planks, Oh My!

Next (free) core challenge starts in January. Read on for details and signup

It’s about all those other internet “core” challenges out there…

There’s the one where you do situps, bicycle crunches, reverse crunches, and planks. And the one where you do crunches, leg raises, and planks. Guess what all of those exercises have in common? They all work the same muscle. And with the exception of the plank, they’re not particularly great options for working it. In fact some of you will end up having a sore back from the daily crunches and leg raises. Don’t worry, it probably won’t be serious, and will probably go away after you stop. And most of you won’t get a sore back at all, which is nice. If you’ve got a back that doesn’t get sore from lots of crunches and leg raises, then cool, do that program. Unless you recognize that your core also includes the muscles along the side of your core, and the muscles at the back of your core. You know, the whole we’re not cartoon characters, we actually have 3 dimensions thing. Ya, so if you’re one of the 3 dimensional people, then maybe don’t do that program.

Introducing a Core Challenge for People who Aren’t Cartoon Drawings

I created the 30 Day The Core is The Core challenge after getting irritated by a core challenge being passed around by my Facebook and Twitter friends. Like the ones referenced above that got me riled up today, it was all about the  “six pack” muscles at the front of the core. There is so much more to the core! And here’s the amazing thing, and the part that makes me feel the need for a rant every time I see one of those crappy challenges: If you work your whole core, you’ll see improvements in how you feel in general, in how you look, in sports performance, and for some of you even in your low back health.

 

9 Reasons You Should Do The Core is The Core 30 Day Challenge

  1. It won’t contribute to your “CEO posture”.
  2. It will make you more awesome.
  3. It will make you feel stronger in a more balanced way.
  4. You will be introduced to a series of fantastic core exercises you may never have seen before.
  5. It’s a challenge!
  6. it’s accessible. In other words – you can do this challenge successfully whether your current plank-ability is 5 seconds or 5 minutes.
  7. You get a free copy of The Core Companion workout at the end of the challenge.
  8. It’s free (although I ask you to donate to one of my favourite charities).

How does it work?

Step 1Register.

Step 2: Do 4 core exercises every day for 30 days:

  • 1 for the anterior (front) core, like a plank
  • 1 for the lateral (side) core, like a bird dog
  • 1 for the posterior (backside) core, like a glute bridge
  • 1 combo core, which is an exercise that isn’t usually considered a core exercise but that has a lot of core to it, like push-ups

TCITC

 

In fact you don’t even have to do it every day – there are bronze, silver and gold standards that you earn if you do 21, 25, or 28 days of Core over the course of the month. I know – generous!

We’ll even send you a (very brief) email each day of the program with a video of a great core exercise that you may not know about.

Not sure what exercises to do each day? We’ll give you a recommendation each day, with an idea of a target time or number of reps for those with advanced and beginner cores.

Step 3: Log your results using our easy online submission form – it barely takes a minute.

Step 4:  Bask in your new-found awesomeness. We’ll post the names (real or fake – see the registration form) of the exceptional winners who make it to the end on the Custom Strength Facebook page. We’ll also answer questions there along the way should you have any.

Step 5: Receive a free copy of The Core Companion workout! It’s a workout I’ve used both myself and with my clients at Custom Strength this year, and I’m loving the results. We use it for a 3-6 week period to really beef up the core. It is a particularly great option for athletes in season, for those who are getting bored with their current workout, or for those who feel their core may be limiting their success.

You’re probably reading this thinking you know, that makes sense. Yes! It makes sense because it is sensible! Meanwhile working just the abs makes no sense at all! Especially for those of you who have desk jobs – you’re sitting on your butt, trying to turn it into your best impression of a pancake, but then when you go to work your core, you don’t want to work that too? Instead you only work the muscle that’s getting shorter and tighter with every hour that you sit at your desk? Which will just contribute to further shortening, which will actually do great things for the Montgomery Burns posture you’ve been working on. Although if you think about it, Bill Gates has the same posture, so maybe it’s something to strive for? I sometimes refer to it as CEO posture. I guess you could come to the conclusion that if you want to be a CEO, you should start with CEO posture. So if that sounds about like sound logic, then go do one of those 30 day ab-only challenges to build a better CEO posture. Say it with me: Ex-cellent.

For everyone else, head over here to sign up for The Core is The Core 30 day challenge.

The next round of the challenge starts January 2nd.

The 4 Things I Know About Sports Injuries

Apparently I’m not a quick-learner, because it took me close to 20 years to learn these very basic, but oh so important things about sports injuries. During that time, I can’t count how many times I played through the pain. In my case, it was a hip injury that never seemed to heal. By the time I figured out the smart strengthening (which for a hip injury shouldn’t include the heavy squats that I was doing) and getting enough rest (if it hurts for days after you play, it’s probably not doing good things to your body), I had done too much damage to my hip joint and surgery ended up being the only option that allowed me to stay active. With the level of damage I had, surgery wasn’t a sure thing, so I have been incredibly vigilant since then. I lift weights, stretch, get manual therapy as needed, don’t play more than I should, hydrate, and warm-up before I play. I sometimes wonder if I could have avoided surgery had I figured that stuff out 10 years before I did. Who knows. The silver lining is that this experience makes me a better trainer. And it means I can share what I’ve learned over the past 25 years (20 years of pain plus 5 years pain-free) with you, in case you’re either younger or slower than me, and thus haven’t learned them yourself yet.

1. Your body isn’t like your car. If you hear a noise you don’t like while driving, you can just turn up the radio to drown it out. Problem solved. Doing that with your body, however, is a really bad idea. Ha – is anybody having a fit right now as they read that? “What?…But…You can’t…You have to maintain your car!” Okay, you’re right. That’s not the best way to treat your car. But treating your body that way is even worse. Very few of us keep the same car for our entire lives. If your [knee, hip shoulder, back, achilles...] is painful every time you [run, play ultimate, cycle, play tennis...], ignoring it and pushing through is like turning up the radio to drown out the knocking sound from your engine. Don’t do it. Go see someone. Maybe even, *gasp*, take a bit of time away from your sport.

Your body is incredibly wise, and is willing to share its wisdom with you. If you’re willing to listen. Or you can turn up the radio. I mean, there might be a good song on.

 

2. It’s quite amazing what you can do in the presence of injury. I say this with the caveat that you should respect your body and stay out of the pain zone.  You may need to take a break from your sport for a while, but you can still get that great workout feeling, if that’s something you enjoy. If you’ve got a leg injury, you can train your other leg, your core, and your upper body. Similarly, an arm injury leads plenty of option for training your core and lower body. Back and hips are a bit more tricky because they’re pretty central, but even there – you can work around. Oh, and of course you can also incorporate “corrective exercises” into your training that can actually help speed up the recovery process. In other words, accepting an injury doesn’t mean you have to sit on your butt and get horribly out of shape. You just have to be smart about it, and you may even come away from an injury in better shape than before.

 

3.  Just because a little is fine, doesn’t mean a lot is fine. I’m starting to sound like captain obvious now, aren’t I? And yet, I’m guessing most of you reading this either have been here, or are still here. You may be able to play your sport for a period of time without pain, but when you pound the pavement for an extra 10km, spend an extra hour in the saddle, add an extra night of ultimate, or add another 50 pounds to your squat, suddenly you’re faced with the “maybe I should turn up the radio…” situation. It turns out sometimes a little is great, and a lot is not. In those cases, is it a question that you’ve reached your body’s limit? Or maybe just the limit for your current training level? There’s no universal answer, unfortunately, but what is universally true, is that pushing through will transport you out of the world of healthy exercise and into the injury cycle. What if, you take a step back to evaluate when you hit this situation? (ducking to avoid lightning strikes). Did you increase your volume too quickly? Are you strong and fit enough to support your activity? Is there some movement issue going on that your body can tolerate for a while, but eventually doesn’t like? You may be able to figure this out on your own, or you may need some help. Or you can turn up the radio, if you’d rather pretend this isn’t actually happening. It will be more painful in the short term and long term to do that, but you won’t have to cut back on your sport this week, so that’s something.

 

4. You know how your mom told you you can do whatever you put your mind to? She was wrong. Or maybe she was lying, but you can sort that detail out with your shrink. The reality is, we are all built differently, and some of us aren’t built for the activity we love. For some people, it’s pretty obvious. If you’re 5’4″, you’re not going to be playing in the NBA. Sorry. Conversely, if you’re 6’7″, you’re not going to make it as a professional jockey. For others, the reality is not as clear. They might be able to do their activity of choice, but their body won’t tolerate it well. If you love to ride a bike, but you don’t have a back that tolerates flexion well, you’re not going to have a long and successful cycling career. You’ll probably retire early due to back pain. And if you’re a hockey player with an abnormal hip structure (many of us do without knowing it), then hopefully you’re not a goalie, because your hips are not going to survive the butterfly for very long. Ultimate players love to really rotate the knee back as they lunge out to throw because it allows a lower release. That’s just fine if you have the knee and hip to support that position. Unfortunately many of you don’t and are finding yourself on the sidelines with overuse injuries. Maybe it’s time to try a straight knee release. It’s true that you might lose an inch on your reach, and that might be enough to keep you off the starting line of the travelling team. That sucks. But continuing to move in your sport in a manner that your body can’t support will likely prevent you from playing at all.

If your body is continually getting injured from your sport, and you’re doing all the right things to support it (not playing too much, warming up, proper strengthening geared toward  your body, seeing a good manual therapist when stuff pops up,…), then I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you might not have the body for what you’re trying to do. The good news is that you might not have to change all that much. You might just need to make some minor adjustments. Maybe a less aggressive bike set up will take away the back pain. Maybe being a stand-up goalie instead of butterfly will let you play without re-injuring your groin. Maybe keeping your knee in safer alignment will allow you to throw without re-aggravating that knee injury. It’s true that each one of these things can mean your peak performance will take a hit. But here’s the thing: if you’re unable to play because of constant injury, then your peak performance doesn’t exist. I know that sucks to hear. But it might be true. If you give an inch on peak performance, though, you may be able to get back to almost peak performance. And if you’re as awesome as you tell everyone you are, then that’s still miles ahead of everyone else. :)

If you are in the injury cycle but aren’t doing all the right things, then maybe it’s time to try doing them. Odds are still good that you can get out of the injury cycle without compromising performance.  Awesome! But it will take work and patience. If you love your sport, then you know it’s worth it.

 

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa, Canada, who has years of experience running, skiing, playing hockey, and playing ultimate both with and without injuries. The latter is much more enjoyable! She’s also a former hockey coach, ultimate coach, ski instructor and guide for disabled skiers.  

Other posts that may interest you:
I have arthritis in my knees, how would you train me?
Plyometrics: Are they hurting or helping you?
Do ab exercises reduce abdominal fat?

The one truly horrifying image that will make you reconsider wearing heels

There are often articles that pop up in newspapers and blogs, and on the health segments of television news shows that explain the health problems people who wear high heels will likely face. Inevitably they include a stylized x-ray image of a woman’s foot with highlights of the pain and damage points. Probably the people who write, produce, and share those images and articles think it will scare women into wearing more sensible shoes. I wonder if anyone has been convinced by those messages? My guess is very few.

Maybe there’s a better way. What if this was the message:

Keep wearing these in your 30s…

Photo credit: ChodHound on Flickr
Photo credit: ChodHound on Flickr

And you’ll be stuck wearing these in your 40s…

Photo credit: Purblind on Flickr
Photo credit: Giles Clark on Flickr

Scary stuff!

 

Elsbeth Vaino, CSCS, is a personal trainer in Ottawa, Canada

Dr. Ho’s infomercial product was tested by Dr. McGill?

Funny things happen when you stay up too late with the television on in the background. You periodically hear something that grabs your attention, and even though you are so certain that you misheard, you look up and pay attention to the television for a while to find out what you really heard.

Last night, while updating a couple of programs for this morning (the ultimate last minute), I heard  Dr. Ho state that Dr. Stu McGill did testing with his muscle stimulating pain relief system and that he found it to be effective. Wait, what?

I looked up in time to see a photo of Dr. McGill in a lab environment in the background of the infomercial. Seriously? My next thought was that this was marketing trickery, but I couldn’t let it go, so I went to Google for more.

(Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/instantvantage/)

 

I was pretty shocked to find this,

Description and comparison of traditional T.E.N.S. to DR-HO’S T.E.N.S.

Stuart M. McGill, PhD
Professor of Spine Biomechanics
University of Waterloo, Canada
June 2002

Granted, it is hosted on Dr. Ho’s site, so maybe it’s a fake. But it reads like Dr. McGill’s work (I’ve been re-reading Low Back Disorders lately). From the report:

“In our investigations on various scientific issues related to back pain we were apprised of the Dr Ho’s device. Specifically in our work with the device on patients, we did quantify reductions in perceived pain as claimed by the manufacturer. However, given the subjective nature of data obtained from pain scales, we were motivated to find “hard” evidence obtained with instrumentation. We were successful in being able to find two phenomena
measurable with instruments – specifically we observed reductions in muscle spasm (using electromyography) and increases in muscle oxygenation (using Near Infra-red Spectroscopy). “

and

“For example traditional TENS units typically output a singular pattern that does not change although the stimulating strength is adjusted for a patient by altering the peak to peak voltage, or the current intensity. In contrast, the Dr Ho’s device outputs a pre-programmed sequence of stimulating pulse patterns that appears to be quite effective for the therapeutic claims made. “

Finally,

“Debate continues as to the mechanism of action of TENS. Current
hypotheses are dominated by the notion that TENS decreases the sensitivity of
pain-sensing nerve fibers. Our work shows that the sophisticated modulated
patterns of the Dr Ho’s stimulation device reduces muscle spasm and increases
oxygenation suggesting that the pain-spasm cycle is reduced.”

I’m really not sure what to make of this. Except that I still find it unbelievable that what I’ve always perceived as infomercial trash  might actually have some merit.  Still shocked.

 

Elsbeth Vaino is a personal trainer in Ottawa, Canada, who places great value in Dr. Stuart McGill’s teachings, and incorporates much of it into her training approach. Will Dr. Ho’s be the next new toy at Custom Strength?

Posts about low back pain:
6 Exercises for low back health
Ab exercises: if your back gets sore before your abs
Lessons of the hip and spine from Dr. Sahrmann

Why deadlift?

I love the deadlift. It is my second favourite exercise, behind pullups. Pullups I love because they feel so incredibly amazing. Particularly for women, who tend to find them very difficult. Once you accomplish them, I think the feeling of awesome is increased.

But deadlifts are a different kind of awesome. They are functionally awesome. Everyone deadlifts. In life, that is. And because everyone deadlifts in life, virtually all of my clients deadlift in the gym. Whether you are 16 or 76, if you train with me for long enough, you will deadlift. And odds are, you will probably love it. In fact I have one client who drew a sad face on his workout sheet because there were no deadlifts that day.

Everyone deadlifts in life?
Continue reading Why deadlift?

Do corrective exercises work?

Corrective exercises have become a popular training tool for many personal trainers in recent years, but do they work?

The corrective exercises are often found in programs in the movement preparation part of the workout, which I like to jokingly say is just a fancy way of saying the warm up. In fact it is a specific warm up, one that literally is intended to get your body prepared for movement. Some of the corrective exercises are basic stretches and activation exercises that manual therapists (I use the term manual therapist to refer to any of athletic therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist, osteopath, or physical therapist) have been using for years. Others are more integrated, born of functional training philosophies, such as the Functional Movement Screen. Continue reading Do corrective exercises work?

Back-friendly snow shoveling tips

Now that we have some snow up here, I thought it would be appropriate to bring this snow shoveling article out to remind everyone that shoveling is actually hard physical work, that really should be done after a warmup, and with some caution about form.

Did you know there is an increase in cardiac incidents following snowfalls?

It turns out that shoveling is both frustrating and dangerous.  This is likely due to otherwise sedentary people heading out and suddenly doing intense exertion – that snow can be heavy!

And did you also know that there is an increase in back injuries following snow storms? 
Continue reading Back-friendly snow shoveling tips