This Article is About
spinal muscles
proper posture
back muscles
lumbar spine
lower back pain
erector spinae
Sa+sb=fb: Strong Abs And A Strong Butt Equals A Flexible Back!
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Sa+sb=fb: Strong Abs And A Strong Butt Equals A Flexible Back!

Many people visit doctors and practitioners in both conventional and holistic medicine settings for back pain. Much can be done on your own with these great stretches for back pain.

It kills me and I hate it when I see these guys in the gym, lying face down, their torso draped over a bar, side horse, or other such strange exercise implement, holding a weight at the back of their head and moaning and groaning while doing intense back extensions.

I feel sorry for them. They truly feel they are improving and strengthening their back muscles, but the opposite is true and they are doing more damage than good unfortunately.

Did I say strengthening the back?! Completely unnecessary!!! Let me share an important secret with you.

The weakest link in the back is L5 / S1 the last Lumbar vertebrae which attaches to and lies on top of the base of the sacrum. In most people with lower back problems and disk pathologies which can bring about Sciatica, this occurs because of L5 slipping forward on top of the sacrum / S1 base thereby squeezing the kishkas out of the disc between them.

Well, guess what's happening when you're doing those wonderful back extension exercises to “strengthen” the back?!

The same thing or worse. You're putting pressure again and again on that weakest link, increasing the lordosis / curvature of the lower back and lumbar spine, causing more pressure and pathologies on the disc and between the vertebrae.

(Now, I am not saying there is no place for these “type” of exercises at all, but in the context of back pain and the need to strengthen the back, no uh uh!!! Especially lower back pain. It depends HOW they are done, WHAT for, and at what INTENSITY, and whether static or dynamic.)

Our back muscles are probably naturally one of the strongest and most active muscles in our body. Think about it. Whether while walking, standing, or while I sit here at my computer, the para spinal muscles including the erector spinae which travel the length of the back and spine, are totally engaged in order to maintain proper posture and to keep us erect. Most of the time and most of the day. The back is already naturally doing its job extremely well without any extra help.

Why spoil a good thing or fix something that's not even broken?

That weakest link in our lower back needs to be strong enough and yet also flexible enough at the same time, in order to handle ascending forces of gravity from our legs, and descending forces from our upper body. We know that our center of gravity passes through approximately in front of or through the 4th Lumbar vertebrae and that general area. It's an extremely important area that needs to be strong and supple.

So how then to accomplish this?

Our buttock muscles and abdominal muscles act in tandem to stabilize the critical lower part of the spine. The buttock muscles from behind and the abs from the front. Now you can probably understand the big deal about all those extreme exercise videos for butt and ab muscles. It's not only to look good, though that definitely doesn't hurt, but it serves a higher or in this case a lower purpose.

With a strong stomach and butt which are well balanced – as we obviously do not want to over exaggerate either – the natural curvatures of the spine including a natural Lumbar lordosis are maintained. The area of the lower back is then maintained, open, and flexible and can naturally handle whatever comes its way from day to day action, work, and natural stress.

So here very simply are the basic exercises to do in order to accomplish this purpose. There are many but these are easy and among my favorites, and you already most likely know them.

For the Butt: Leg extensions. Down on your hands and knees with your upper body and head in a straight line. Lightly extend your leg behind you as you breathe out, leading with the heel and bringing your leg in line with your upper body, heel behind you. Breathe in as you bring your leg back to the starting position and back so you are again on all fours. Do 10 repetitions of each leg and try to work up to 3 sets at a session.

You can add donkey kicks to focus more strongly and specifically on the butt muscles. From the previous exercise when your leg is extended behind you, bend the knee to 90 degrees, and pulse with the leg kicking upward into the air with the heel. Breathe out on the action and in as you return the leg. Same deal, 10 repetitions with each leg and work up to 3 sets of the exercise per session.

For both, you can eventually add some ankle weights to increase resistance, but be careful and take it slow. You don't want to cause more damage to your back or to your knees.

For the abdominal muscles: Simple situps. Lying on the back, feet flat on the ground, knees bent to 90 degrees, hands preferably resting on your thighs or crossed on your chest. Many people cross their fingers and wrap their hands behind their neck while doing situps. They may end up doing a situp, but they are also causing damage to their neck and cervical spine as they pull on it and bring their head forward out of line with their upper body. If anything, your hands should be lightly touching the sides of your head or your ears, is all.

Lift your shoulders off the ground and breathe out as you bring your upper body to about 45 degrees. As soon as you feel the edge of your scapula / shoulder blade come off the ground, you can return to the lying starting position and breathe in. Bringing your body up more than 45 degrees will recruit the hip flexors and iliopsoas muscles which blend with the lower abdominal muscles, but are definitely not abdominal muscles themselves. Also completely unnecessary, so do the situps simply, slowly, and correctly with proper technique 10 at a time, working up to at least 3 sets at a session.

For extra credit and to help the balancing of abs and butt through the body's diaphragmatic system, pull your anal sphincter closed and in as you go up into a situp, and release it passively as you come down.

There you have it and you're now on your way to a more flexible and supportive lower back. Enjoy doing the correct exercises and the next time you're in the gym and see some of these guys huffing and puffing needlessly while destroying their lower backs, you can either laugh to yourself and smile, since you know the real secret, or better still go ahead and share it with them before they hurt themselves.

Wake up and start living!!!

Street Talk

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