Your spine is like a credit card, it is not meant to bend over and over. If you do bend a credit card it does not break right away but it forms that little white line. If you keep bending (repeated flexion) it will break (Low Back Pain, herniated disc etc) The majority of the people in this country have had lower back pain at some point in their life and it is usually due to poor lifestyle habits combined with poor training habits.

The computer person's typical day: 8-12 seated posture, rounded shoulders, a flexed spine, shortened hip flexors and a forward head.

When you have this type of lifestyle your training program should include exercise to help reverse this process not reinforce it.

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The absolute number one job of your lumbar spine(low back) is stability!

Here are a few exercises to ditch and a few to pick up to keep your low back healthy and improve your posture.

Ditch!

Crunches on the Swiss Ball- Like mentioned above if you keep bending something that is not meant to bend over and over again there will eventually be a problem. Repeated low load flexion exercise is probably one of the worst choices for abdominal training.  

Perform 0 sets of 0 reps.

Pick up

Stir the Pot: Now don’t go taking the axe to your Swiss ball just yet, they are great if used properly. The main function of your spine is stability. This exercise helps to stabilize the spine and train your anterior core muscles to get stronger without stress to the low back. Be sure to keep a neutral spine and do let your hips move.  Start on the floor and progress to the ball.

Hold for 3-6 sets of 10 seconds.

Ditch!

Bicycle Crunches: Yes they burn but is that burn contributing to some big time low back problems. YES! Your lumbar spine has limited range of motion, 12.5 degrees from all 5 vertebrae to be precise. Lets not try to rotate it more than is physically possible. Now we are adding two bad things for core training repeated low load flexion and rotation. Your Low back is not meant to rotate or flex, it is meant to stabilize.

Perform 0 sets of 0 reps.

Pick-up

Loaded Carries- An awesome exercise to build strength and endurance in the lateral core muscles-Obliques and Quadratus Lumborum with very little stress the spine.  Simply grab 1 DB or KB, hold it at your side and walk for 30-60 seconds, then switch sides.

Perform 1-3 sets

Ditch !

DB Front Raises-  Upper body posture can be a big cause of low back pain. This exercise reinforces the posture you are forced to be in all day. When your shoulders are rounded forward your spine is flexed all the time. This puts stress to the low back.

Perform 0 sets of 0 reps.

Pick up

Band Pull-Aparts- An awesome exercise to help strengthen the muscles around the scapula(Mid-Back) and stretch the chest. As these muscles get stronger it pulls your shoulders back and gets your spine back into extension instead of flexion.  Our clients and athletes do 100 reps per workout.  You should feel this exercise in the middle of your back, not the front of your shoulders.

Perform 10 sets of 10 reps or 5 sets of 20 reps throughout the course of your workout.

I know it seems insane to not do crunches but if you want to have low back pain keep on crunching. If you want a healthy low back and great posture start picking up the above exercises.

A final note: All of these exercises good or bad are designed to improve strength and endurance in the core muscles. They do not help remove Fat from the belly!. If this is your goal, spend more time on your nutrition.

For more information on how to get lean, strong and healthy please visit www.gabrielefitness.com