Back Friendly Core Variation

There is so much core training on the internet its enough to make your head spin. One article talks about how flexion is going to break your back followed by a different post arguing the benefits of flexion. I try not to get caught up in the heated core debate. I listen to what the best in the field talk about, using research to validate their claims and make decisions based on what makes the most sense to me.

I used to avoid flexion when I injured my back a few years ago and then came to the realization that avoiding flexion is why I hurt my back in the first place as I didn’t  have a whole lot of lumbar flexion to begin with. What many doctors won’t tell you if you hurt your back is whether you have flexion intolerance or extension tolerance. There is a difference and each pathology has a different rehab protocol.

Now before I get side tracked I’ll let some coaches and rehab pros who are way smarter than I am talk about the difference between the two. Here’s an article by Eric Cressey that covers quite a bit regarding the low back.

I wanted to share a back friendly core variation that in my opinion strengthens the obliques safely and additionally adds anti rotation stability as well. Working with a ton of athletes the one thing that I’ve noticed is anti rotation and anti lateral flexion deficits seem to be high. I’m not sure why this is but there is a correlation between the body’s ability to stabilize anti rotation and reducing back pain occurrences, especially in rotational sports.

Here’s the video below

I call it the curl up with band anti rotation. Not the most creative name, but if anyone has a better one I am all ears.

Its very similar to the McGill curl up and for those for aren’t familiar with Stu Mcgill, he is one of the premier back specialists in the world.

Make sure to avoid crunching/rounding the upper back excessively especially if you have a ton of T spine extension limitations. The key is to reach up a couple of inches instead of crunching. I also use the ab mat which is great to add a little more range of motion.

Bret Contreras has a nice video talking about the ab mat and demoing the eccentric portion of the crunch.

I prefer the curl up variation over the more popular russian twists pictured below. In my opinion putting someone into flexion and then rotation is asking for disc issue down the road especially since most people can’t avoid excessive lumbar flexion at the top of this position.

The curl is much safer and adds the benefit of additional rotary stability which rotational sport athletes lack.

Give the curl up a try and let me know what you think.

Train Hard and Smart!



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