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Photo Credit: InShape News – Spinal Flexion – 2017


Nick Jack – CHEK Holistic Lifestyle Coach and Personal Trainer

Spinal flexion and rotation is known as a very dangerous movement in the exercise and rehabilitation field as this movement is very closely associated with herniated discs and severe case of low back pain. Whereas Core stability is used to correct this or prevent this problem.

However, working the core involves more than just the abdominal muscles and rarely does core stability prevent or correct this problem. True core function involves movements in all 3 planes of motion, including flexion and rotation. Many would tell you rotation is bad for your spine, and that is true for your lumbar spine but it is essential for the optimal function of the hips and also the thoracic spine. By eliminating this movement and training people to be robots with planks and other isolated abdominal training is creating more dysfunction, not correcting it.

Spinal Flexion

Spinal flexion involves co-contraction of the abdominals and obliques, and also involves TVA stabilisation if the technique is performed correctly. When the movement is performed with good posture involving thoracic extension and movement of the hips (through anterior/posterior tilts) the TVA is stabilising the lumbar spine well, as the thoracic spine and hips are assisting the movement with mobility encouraging good stiffness. However, if those postures aren’t shown through the movement then the lumbar spine is acting through mobility instead of stability, therefore, no TVA stabilisation which demonstrates poor stiffness. Rotation movements should not be eliminated or avoided, for if you did then you will never be able to play golf, sweep the floor or do the gardening. The key is to learn how to do these movements correctly and make sure you have adequate activation of your key stabilisers.

Core Stability

Core stability on a basic level involves consciously activating the inner unit muscles such as the diaphragm, multifidus, pelvic floor and the TVA which for many people with back pain is either dormant or switches on too late exposing the spine to excessive movement and ultimately injury. This is an important step to master for beginners to exercise or people with history of back pain, before moving on to more complex movements such as spinal flexion & rotation. If you cannot activate the inner unit stabilisers like TVA on a basic level you will never do it standing up. Core stabilisers are required for every movement we make and work effectively on a reflex level to fire before the prime movers try to move our limbs. Their job is to ensure joints are aligned and the body is positioned well to move.

In summary, it is important to work on basic level core activation exercises and be certain that you are able to activate before progressing to more advanced movements and exercise. Learning how to bend correctly and rotate using the hips and the thoracic spine in combination with the stability and good stiffness of the inner unit enables you to do spinal flexion with rotation without risk of injury or pain. The key is in the technique and mastery of movement skills.

Nick Jack is a qualified CHEK Exercise Coach, Level II Holistic Lifestyle Coach and personal trainer. He runs a personal training business called NO Regrets Personal Training.

Nick likes to lift weights, cycle, run and triathlon. He has played almost every sport at one time in his life. Now, he enjoys spending time walking his dog and relaxing with his wife and friends.

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Disclaimer: The information published in this column are based on each of the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.


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