Protect Your Back

baby sitting on man s shoulder
Photo by Maria Lindsey on

How’s everyone doing, gearing up to eat some Turkey?? Yeah, I know I am, everything in moderation, including moderation. Last week, I posted about back pain creeping in a little bit, and in my case this was due to lack of attention to detail while lifting up my 21 lb son. I posted about principles that I follow in order to keep my back safe at work, in the gym, doing DIY projects, and now for playing with my son, and here they are in greater detail:

  1. Abs tight

This is exactly how it reads, the act of tightening your abdominal muscles each and every time you place your body under load. Whether you are lifting a barbell at the gym, or simply your own body weight, learning how to tighten your Abs will keep your back safe. “Abs tight” is the reminder I give myself, and I realized I was not doing it when loading my son into his car seat recently, I am now. It is great to have an experienced trainer teach you this skill in order to master it, but here is how the concept breaks down:

Stand up straight, and contract your abdominal muscles as you would to do a sit up or crunch, but do not move. Do not “suck in” or draw in your stomach, assure it stays in a neutral position, only tight. You want to feel as if you a “bracing” your Abs to take a punch, test this out with your own hand to make sure (give your Abs a few taps). Learning to keep your abs tight will help you maintain a neutral position in your lower back when you place your body under load.

Take a quick look at this video for a Demo:

  1. Hips lead the race

Essentially, this means that any motion must be initiated by your hip movement (not your knees, not your shoulders, not your back). The term “lift with your legs” can be deceptive, your hips need to move first, and lead the rest of your body through a safe movement.

  1. Sturdy structure

Basically this is linked to point number 2, you always want your body in a safe, sturdy position when you place it under load. You also want a strong “lockout” at the top, straight line vertical from head, shoulders, hips, knees, feet.

If you place your body under load and do not have proper posture and alignment to evenly distribute the force that is being applied, the force will be applied to weak points in the kinetic chain. For example, lifting something over and over again by squatting down with your knees tracking far out over your toes will assure that shearing force is applied to your patella tendon, and usually result in soreness/tendonitis.

Take a look at this You Tube Video for a quick Demo! This will show you how to apply these concepts, no matter what you are lifting!

It is important to apply these principles each and every time we lift something, no matter how heavy or light. I hope these points to ponder are helpful for you as you examine your own movement patterns, and training routines. Have a great week, enjoy some Turkey!

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