The lower back is the single most neglected muscle group on the body. Most gym-goers only like to work the muscles they can see in the mirror and do not care about performance. There's nothing wrong with wanting to look great at the pool without being an athlete. The problem with this mentality is that roughly 80% of Americans have suffered or will suffer some form of lower back pain in their life. The main reason for this is the sedentary lifestyle of Americans. Another is the increase in seated computer jobs, but it can also be linked all the way back to grade school where students are forced to sit at a desk for 7 hours a day.
There are several causative factors that greatly attribute to lower back pain. These factors include structural deficiencies, core weakness, and tightness of the posterior chain muscles. Structural deficiencies can be caused by either traumatic or passive injuries. With traumatic injuries, we think of things like a car crash or being tackled in football. With the lower back being the stopping point for the midbody hinge; it absorbs most of the impact in these situations. Generally with these types of injuries, one is aware that there may be an injury because there is often soreness and/or pain. To truly understand what is going on with your body, we need to understand that the pelvis is the entire foundation for your spine. If for some reason the pelvis was to become uneven or twisted, even the slightest bit, it would impact the spine resting upon it, because the spine then has to try and compensate for any unevenness exhibited by the pelvis.
A structural change to the pelvis can occur naturally if the muscles that attach to it on both sides are unequal in strength and tonicity. Just like you have a dominant arm that is stronger than the other arm, you also have a dominant leg that is stronger. With time or exercise the stronger muscles in your dominant leg pull harder on the bones of your pelvis than the muscles of your weaker leg can resist. Eventually these muscles can cause the pelvis to elevate or twist on one side. At this point the entire structure of your spine but most significantly in the lumbar spine has been compromised.
(On the left is a normal spine in proper alignment with an even pelvis. On the right, we have a pelvis that is slightly higher on the right side and we can see the difference that is produced in the spine’s alignment between the green and red lines.)
Other more passive factors could include compression injuries such as sitting for long periods of time. New studies are coming out every day saying, “Sitting is the new smoking.” With a huge upswing in computer related jobs, more and more people find themselves having to spend extended amounts of time sitting at a desk. One of the biggest taboos for the low back that most men are guilty of, is sitting on a wallet. Repeated sitting for extended amounts of time on your wallet on the same side will almost certainly cause your pelvis to become uneven. This can lead to structural deficiencies in your pelvis and lumbar spine.
The next issue is weakness of the midsection. The muscles of the lower back work to stabilize the spine and assist in posture support and lifting items from the floor. When picking up heavy objects, the legs should be used as the major movers by squatting down and keeping the back straight. If the midsection is weak the spine will hold the load instead of the muscles. This can cause compression and torquing injuries.
While these issues are common among people with a sedentary lifestyle, they do not need to lead to chronic conditions. I see clients from all walks of life on a daily basis. Those that maintain an active lifestyle are the ones who rarely complain of lower back pain. These individuals’ workout a couple days a week and maintain hobbies that keep them moving. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines suggest performing a cardiovascular activity for 30 minutes at least 3 days a week. This could be hiking, playing with the kids in the yard, swimming, etc. Simply taking a walk can greatly reduce lower back pain in most cases. Once the pain is lessened, the next step is to protect the body from future pain. To do this we need to loosen up the posterior muscle chain with some stretches and strengthen the lower midsection with resistance training.
The best exercises to build the lower back are hip hinges and stability exercises.
The Hip Bridge is a great low intensity exercise to build the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. This is performed by lying supine with feet flat on the floor and lifting and lowering the hips.
The Roman Deadlift (RDL) is also a hip hinge that can be low or high intensity depending on the load (weight) and depth used during the exercise. Begin the RDL standing up right, then lower your weight forward bending at the hips with a slight bend in the knees. Squeeze the shoulder blades together throughout the movement to resist slouching of the upper spine. This can be performed with no load until the full range of motion can be established. Always lower to a comfortable depth that can be reached with no pain
Tightness of the posterior chain muscles pull the hips into a posterior tilt. This pushes the hips forward and pulls the glutes under the body making the lumbar curvature straighten. When the lumbar curvature straightens the shoulders tend to slump forward to balance during walking and create poor posture throughout the entire body. This is a common result of repeatedly sitting for long durations. Tightest of the piriformis muscle could also cause discomfort and is one of the leading causes of pain associated with the sciatic nerve. This muscle is commonly worked and stretched with the glutes, but there are some stretches used to lengthen the piriformis specifically.
This is apparent in students and office/desk workers, but also in individuals who have long commutes and binge watch television. This is not always a quick fix, but stretching and increasing activity will help to relieve the tension. The best stretches for the hamstrings put the body into hip flexion. Always stay within a comfortable range while stretching, and remember a stretch should not cause pain.
In most cases lumbar pain can act as a double-edged sword. Inactivity will cause the pain and the pain will lead to more inactivity. The only way to break the cycle is to be active in your own recovery. With the help of a qualified team, you can get your life and mobility back. The team starts with identifying the problem with a healthcare professional, such as a chiropractic physician. Your Chiropractor will be able to check for any pelvic unevenness or any other subluxation or alignment issues. Then locating a qualified fitness professional to strengthen or loosen the area (depending on situation) is essential, and finishing with self-motivation to experience life to the fullest.
For more information on this or other fitness related topics visit my blog at
http://www.originalworkout.net/daniels-blog. Feel free to contact me via phone or email to schedule a consultation or training session.
Daniel Fredell Dr. William Davis
ACSM Certified Fitness Professional Active People Chiropractic
Danielfredell@yahoo.com 325 1st Ave SW Hickory, NC 28601
Many things in life are made to be cherished and appreciated. Some are made to be enjoyed for a short time like a nice meal with friends or an exotic vacation; some are made to last forever like a magnificent idea or a sturdy kettlebell. Some are made for the sole purpose of being destroyed. To me, this is what makes life worth living. I love food, vacations, ideas, and God knows the kettlebell has a special place in my heart, but what really makes me feel alive is setting up goals only to knock them down and replace them with new ones. The best part about pushing yourself to accomplish the unthinkable is doing it again. One goal down, one more to go. One more down, one more to go. Forever.
Goals are usually thought of as being the finish line, but often they become the new starting point. As soon as a client achieves their goal (whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, increase in athletic performance, etc.) they realize two things. The first is that it was not as hard as they thought it would be and the second is that they aren’t quite done. There’s always another goal waiting in the back of their mind that used to be on the fringe of hopes and dreams that seemed too far out of reach. Once the first goal is smashed, those fringe thoughts seem right around the corner. Now is the time to set up another target.
Therefore, we like to break goals down into the categories of long-term goals and short-term goals. The long-term goal should be the perceived “finish line” and the short-term goals are the “check points” to keep you moving in the right direction. This approach can be used for any goal. Using myself as an example, I recently decided to compete in the Strong First Tactical Strength Challenge in October. The TSC is my “Final” goal because that will be the accumulation of my training. Everything I have trained for will come to fruition by the day of the competition. My short-term goals will keep my strength and endurance growing until that day.
For specifics on the Strong First TSC check out:
I planned these out into blocks of my training schedule. These blocks are my way of staying on course, but I may change them up if I feel my progression slipping in another area. For example, let’s say that the plan for the week is to focus on my pull-ups, but I feel that I really need to add focus to my deadlift. The periodization is fluid so that I can make adjustments and remain on track for the challenge as a whole. In this example the short-term will change, but the long-term is still in sight. This could also be used to work around injuries, or days of extreme soreness. These small tweaks can be beneficial, but do not get to carried away with them. It is easy to go from minor modifications to program hopping. This can be very detrimental to training because there is no strategy in place. When in doubt, I can always go back to the original plan to make sure that the change will be a good fit. This is my way of getting back on track as soon as possible. If I am modifying to work around an injury, I’m not afraid of taking a step back as long as it gives me the opportunity to take multiple steps forward without risking time off.
Be sure to check out Goal Setting Part 2: Stay Motivated
Sport: Cyclocross; Ultra-Running;
Rank: Cat 3: Cyclocross, Road and MTB Racer
License: USA Cycling
Years Riding: 15
Years Racing: 10
Hometown: Lenoir NC
Series: NCCX, Appalachian Grinder, NC Road Racing
Team: Fiets Mann Racing
Why Race: Love riding my bike, love the competition. Cross is it!
Most Exciting Season: 2016 Lead the NC series for the season
Ended up 5th overall for the season earning a Cat 3 upgrade. Raced Nationals in Asheville finishing 41st.
Hobbies: Outdoors, fitness, Ultra Running
Interview with Jonathan hogan
Today we’re sitting down with the man, the legend, Mr. Jon Hogan. He had a great season last year in The NC Series and finished out in 5th place in Cyclocross Overall. He is an avid runner/ hiker and all-around fitness enthusiast. He is using the Ketogenic Diet to become more efficient on and off of the bike by dropping some weight and increasing muscular power and endurance.
Cyclocross is one of those sports that are kind of on the fringe as far as endurance sports go and not that well known by the casual viewer. Can you explain a little bit about what the sport in tells?
So CX or Cross as we call it is similar to motocross without the moto. Instead we ride a bike similar to a road bike with a little different geometry and a little larger off-road tire. Pre-Season generally begins in September here, but CX is really a fall/winter sport with our regular season kicking off in October and ending late January. So rain, cold and even snow are the primary expectation. My race is 45 minutes, which is basically 45 min in the red zone from the whistle. We complete multiple laps on a loop course generally 1.5-2 miles. The course setup is never the same but always insane as it tends to offer something for everyone. Most courses consist of grass, gravel, mud, sand, logs, rocks, wooded sections, steep climbs, technical sections and let's not forget the Barriers. The thing about CX is that sometimes you have to dismount your whip at speed to run up hills that aren't rideable or to hop over logs and the barriers while also being prepared to remount at speed. CX is most definitely a spectator sport as there is always food, music and beer and the open course allows you to see it all, the mud, blood and epic crashes. Heckling is encouraged!
What are some training strategies you have used in the past to gain an edge on the competition?
As I mentioned before CX requires you to run. I love running ,while many cyclist don't, I run year round spending more time on the trails hopping roots, rocks and short steep climbs. This combined with a thorough strength and power training program with my coach (Rob Goodwin) has allowed me to over power the competition numerous times.
Which resistance training program works best with your skill training? Do you schedule recovery time between the two?
We do it all, the early part of my year we focus on strength and power with heavy weight workouts. As the year progress we start to add in more plyo and conditioning. Usually around July the heavy weights are traded in for a TRX strap and the conditioning and met-con training replace my strength sessions. I usually lift 3 days a week Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays are a mix of road riding, MTB (handling skills), and running. Sunday is generally my rest day but I've learned to listen better to my body, so I will take a day if I need to.
With your sport being on foot or on bike, do you feel the need to work any mobility work into your routine?
Absolutely, most of my workouts after July are geared more towards mobility and intensity. I usually end each day after with a 15 to 20 minute stretch/yoga session and a foam roller.
You’ve been riding for a long time now; how do you avoid injuries and what are some tips you would give anyone wanting to get started in Cyclocross?
First, I owe a lot to Rob and his programming. If it weren't for the strength sessions I think I would still be just a recreational cyclist. There is nothing at all wrong with that, but if you are going to be competitive my advice would be call a trainer and get to lifting. Your knees, quads, back, core, calves and feet will thank you for it! Secondly a good nutritional diet. Although the races are short you generally race 2 to 3 races a weekend, so it takes a toll on your body. Fueling with garbage (sugars and carbs) is gonna leave you empty. Maintaining a steady diet of lean protein, healthy fat, and greens is important! Last but not least, learn how to crash gracefully because it's gonna happen more than once. If it doesn't your not tying hard enough!
What benefits have you experienced after switching to the Keto diet?
Keto has been a life saver for me. I used to follow the old cycling way of carb loading on pastas and sugars which always left me feeling slow and sick; only having short energy spikes until the inevitable bonk. I never had the gas to close the deal. Keto has allowed me to shed excess fat throughout the season but more importantly I feel strong throughout my races. My heart rate threshold has increased as well as my endurance allowing me to push harder when closing gaps or making attacks throughout the race. With multiple races each week I feel that my recovery time has decreased majorly allowing me to race harder on day 2 and never leaving me exhausted. I just feel leaner, stronger and healthier overall.
Did you notice any drawbacks such as loss in strength or power?
Actually, I feel the complete opposite my strength sessions are better each week as well as my power. I can push heavier weight as needed and the last set or round in generally my best. I'm not one for blowing smoke, but I feel the strongest I ever have. Just trying to get my cycling legs to comeback around!
Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience about either Cyclocross or your self?
If you've never been to a race I encourage you to check one out! Our team hosts a race in October in Lenoir. Come out have a beer some BBQ and enjoy the show! Other than that.......keep the rubber side down!
Sport: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; Submission Grappling
Weight: 120 lbs.
Weight Class: Feather Weight; Light Feather Weight
Gi Rank: Blue Belt
NewBreed 5/16: Gi and Nogi Champion (White Belt / Beginner)
NAGA 11/16: Gi and Nogi Champion (Blue Belt/ Advanced)
NewBreed 1/17: Gi and Nogi Champion (Blue Belt/ Advanced)
Toro Cup 7 6/17: Feather Weight Winner (via Baseball Choke)
Hobbies: Dog Training; Hiking; Outdoorsy Stuff
Goofing around at fenix jiu-jitsu
Interview with summer carpenter
We’re here with local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prodigy, Summer Carpenter. She is a Renzo Gracie Blue Belt out of Fénix Jiu-Jitsu. She is very early in her career as a grappler, but already she has a pretty impressive resume. She has competed on the local circuit, including Newbreed, NAGA, and won her first Superfight at Toro BJJ. She has finished every opponent by submission without a single loss.
How did you originally find out about Jiu-Jitsu and what attracted you to it in the beginning?
A friend of mine from high school, Alexis Bolick, introduced me to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I immediately fell in love with it. It didn’t take me long at all to be completely hooked and starting training a couple times a week. I loved how close everyone at the gym was and I knew from the start that this was going to be something that may very well save my life someday. I knew I needed it.
Were you very active in sports as a kid?
Funny enough, I was not athletic AT ALL growing up. I dabbled in gymnastics, dance and swimming as a young child but never stuck to anything for longer than a year. I kept to myself and my small group of friends in high school. I never cared for sports since I never found anything that really stuck with me. Until now!
Do you feel that Jiu-Jitsu has affected your life off the mats?
It absolutely has. Jiu Jitsu, at times, makes my life a little bit chaotic since I have a busy life outside of training. I try to train 4 times a week, at the bare minimum. Even though fitting in mat time can cause some stress to my schedule, the work I put in is always worth it. At the end of the day it has erased all of my stress and gives me the motivation to keep on pushing.
Jiu-Jitsu practitioners always talk about the comradery that comes with Jiu-Jitsu, why do you think this art creates such strong bonds?
I’ve always said that the people that stick with Jiu jitsu are a special breed of human. This sport isn’t for everyone. However, those that stick with it, do so because they find immense passion in what they do. To be able to share that passion with an entire group of people, is a very special thing. You can’t get through this sport without making the very best friends you will ever find in this life.
You have won Gold in every competition event you have entered by submitting every opponent. What goes through your mind before you step up to compete?
I have absolutely fallen in love with competing because of how much it tests not only your skill but your character as well. The weeks and days leading up to a competition are always filled with anticipation for me. But when its time to step onto the mats, it immediately disappears. I get so excited to meet new people, especially the women I compete against. Competing has helped me see my strengths clearly while also showing me the holes in my game.
Is that the same as every other training session or do you change gears while in the gym?
Competing is in a different gear than my regular training. If I am not training for a competition, I focus on the fun stuff and just enjoying the time I have with my friends. I often forget the “sport” game that you must play when competing. If I am doing my regular training at the gym, I make it all about enjoying what I do and forget about the rest!
Team Renzo has set some very high standards as being one of the top teams on the planet. How far do you plan to take your grappling career?
I will become a world champion one day. I say that because I know I am capable of anything I set my mind to. My dream is to be able to open my own academy years down the road, as I continue to pursue gold metals.
Fénix is known as an academy that allows all submission from white belts and up. As a Fénix student, is it difficult to dial back your game plan to meet restrictive Blue Belt competition rules?
I thought it would be when I began competing, especially in No Gi grappling, but I haven’t had any issues with it so far. I am big fan of leg locks (of course) and I am really excited about pursuing submission only tournaments that have an all-submission legal rule set.
I’m not going to go into the “as a woman in Jiu-Jitsu” thing because you clearly stand out no matter what, but do you think that it is advantageous to have multiple female training partners or do you tend to train with males for competition preparation?
I love the ladies at Fenix that I get to train with. They always push me to better my game while giving me amazing support. If I am training for a competition, I definitely seek out the ladies because they are the closest ones to my size range. There are several smaller, quick guys at our gym that I seek out to help really give me a challenge. I will train hard with the bigger guys to give me a “training with weights on” sort of affect. Going from them to a small opponent is always beneficial to my game.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our audience?
As always, I want to stress what an amazing martial art Brazilian Jiu Jitsu truly is. I love the sport aspect of it, it’s fun and gives me an incredible way of staying in shape. But at the end of the day, this is what is going to possibly save your life. It is perfect for literally everyone. We have every age group and size imaginable at Fenix Jiu Jitsu, it is suitable for everyone and I highly recommend it!
ACSM Certified Fitness Professional