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Insight on the low Back: Asymmetries is Where it All Begins
In 2004 I was diagnosed with two herniated discs, and I was told to retire from all competitive strength sports. I was faced with two options:
1. Quit even though I was 70lb from breaking the all-time total record.
2. Learn as much about the back as possible and take matters into my own hands.
Obviously I chose option 2. After researching the leading back people in the world, I landed on Dr. Stuart McGill. He is not only a leading researcher, but he also puts outs work that is easily understood by us lesser academic mortals.
I also found Dr. Lawrence Gray of Gray Chiropractic and Sports Associates to be my weekly practitioner. Dr. Gray is on the same page as Dr. McGill, so it was a great fit. Dr. Gray kept me as balanced as a possible, and with the help of Dr. McGill’s work I started bulletproofing my core.
Rebecca Gerdon and I are working on several products regarding recovery. I am known as the guy that can get you strong, and now I want to be known as the guy that can keep you strong. Let’s face it! The person that can train the longest without major injury wins the game in the end.
I started working on recovery for the back. Obviously the first place that I started was Dr. McGill’s work. As I research I always like to pass on the information to you guys. Not only does it help you guys learn, but it also helps me retain the information.
Today I want to talk about asymmetries. Most practitioners want to talk about pain and range of motion to diagnose and predict back injuries. However, asymmetries in movement and strength are the first place to look because studies have shown that asymmetries in movement (especially in the hips) and strength in the low back is the number one way to diagnose and predict back injuries.
Think of the spine as a wall holding up your roof. If anything pulls the base of the wall in any direction, the wall is going to want to collapse. The balance of the low back and pelvis region is critical for low back health.
If your range of motion in the hips varies from right to left or front to back, I suggest working on mobility and finding a practitioner like Dr. Gray to assist in the process. Asymmetrical strength work should be a staple in everyone’s training. I suggest the following exercises:
1. Unilateral Bottom Up Kettlebell Carries: Instead of KB carries with the bell tucked against the wrist, hold the KB with the bell straight up in the air. Dr. McGill’s studies in his lab showed much more recruitment of the quadratus lumborum and abdominal obliques, which are crucial for hip movement and back and hip strength.
2. Traditional Farmer Walks
3. Traditional Kettlebell Carries
4. Unilateral Fat Grip Dumbbell Overhead Carries
I love how Dr. McGill turns his corrective exercises into performance enhancers. The same carries mentioned above not only help to stabilize the spine, but they also give athletes the power to absorb and transfer force. Unilateral carries are great for any athlete that needs to plant off one foot and change direction. This could be a football player making a cut, or a boxer planting and throwing the knockout overhand right.
Over the next couple of months, you will notice a lot of new information coming your way as we complete our initial research for this much needed recovery product. I love the fact that I have time in my life to study and research the field that I love so much. I also love the fact that I have the ability to pass it on to you. Have a great weekend and get that back battle ready baby!