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Lower back pop-out

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 5:50 am
by Onlyethic
Hi,

Was wondering if anyone can advise on how to correct my lower back -- actually more accurately, mid-back-- rounding out when I sit. There is definitely weakness there. I've been working squats and deadlifts, pullups with complete ROM, and some rows to pull my shoulders back.

But still, the posture thing is horrible, to the point that it takes a real effort for me to simply sit up straight.

I think another connected issue is distended gut (so belly comes out, back essentially "falls" down). My outer abs are strong but I suspect my inner and obliques are not. Any recommendations beyond vacuum?

Thanks.

OE.

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:49 pm
by Jungledoc
Have you tried foam rolling (or rolling on tennis or lacross balls)? There are several articles on this over at T-Nation.

One very valuable thing is just to try to remind yourself to consciously correct this as often as you can during the day. Sit up tall, pull your shoulders back. Do this as often as you can.

As for abs, I don't think vacuum is very effective. Planks in all their variations, Pallof "presses", etc., are more helpful.

Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:40 pm
by hoosegow
Doc already said it, but the best way to fix something is to work on it. Make up a visual cue that reminds to you sit properly. The muscles will respond.

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:12 am
by KPj
The most important thing is deffinitly making a conscious effort to correct your posture. It's frustrating but it'll come eventually. What you do in the gym just reinforces that.

There's a couple of points i'll make which will hopefully give you some food for thought. It's impossible to get specific over the net but I can mention some common factors that i've found.

Thoracic Extensions - do lots of them. I've told the guy that trains with me to do 100 thoracic extensions using a foam roller (or med ball) every time he trains. He doesn't do it all the time though, but that's his problem. Reps enforce movement, therefore, if you're trying to correct a lost/faulty movement, then you need lots of reps. That goes nicely onto the next point.

Push:pull ratio.... If you're pushing the same amount as you're pulling then, you're still out of balance. It's something I feel quite strongly about. I've never seen a 'blank canvas' so to speak. Most people seem to already be way out of balance before they start training so, a 1:1 ratio is obviously not going to work. I prefer a 1:2 (push:pull) for someone with no problems and more for people with problems. Personally I spent 2 years with a 1:3 ratio and I still revert back to that quite regularly because you almost instantly feel better for it.

It's worth noting that it's very easy to do all the correct things but just not enough....

Inner/outer obliques/anything but rectus abdominis/whatever - lots of 'core work' which doesn't target your rectus abdominis. Start with side planks but progress to more difficult variations. I love one armed farmers walks to target this area. Pallof press should be another staple as Jungledoc suggested. Make these your 'ab work' and do your 'ab work' regularly.

Also, just 'throwing it out there' but, this is where front squats will give you more bang for your buck than back squats due to the stability required from the middle/upper back. YOu need to 'resist' the very movement that you're complaining about.... I would either swap back for front squats, or do both.

KPj

Posted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:40 pm
by robertscott
KPj made some very good points, only thing i would add would be throw in some glute activation drills (glute bridges, clams etc) and stretch your hips like hell. I mean really, really stretch your hips.

if you can find ten minutes daily to do a bit of posture correction stuff it really is worth it. Much more productive than watching telly.

Posted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:54 am
by Onlyethic
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I've been meaning to do some of this, particularly the hips stretching. I do dynamic hip stretches before and static after, but maybe need to switch to band work. I'll try that.

I'll start on the 100 thoracic extensions, KPj. Fact is, I've been lazy about my foam rolling.

I'm curious about the push-pull ration. I know for sure I'm out of balance. I'm benching around 250#, whereas my upright rows are closer to 150 or less. I'm doing pullups with around 60# weight (2x6) Given your ratio recommendation, my current balance seems completely out of whack.

As for ab, are you recommending I avoid rectus abdominus-specific work for the time being? Let the squats and dl's target the rectus abdominus?

And, I do front squats now, not back. But, to be honest, I'm woefully weak on them.

thanks again.


oe

Posted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:08 am
by Onlyethic
I re-read the comment on push-pull ratio -- seem to have misunderstood it the first time. You meant by 1:2 or 1:3 the ratio of work sets, not the weight -- I think?

Posted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:57 am
by stuward
Onlyethic wrote:I re-read the comment on push-pull ratio -- seem to have misunderstood it the first time. You meant by 1:2 or 1:3 the ratio of work sets, not the weight -- I think?
That's right.

Posted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:43 pm
by caangelxox
dont forget those chin tucks, wall slides, and scapular push ups

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:52 am
by KPj
Onlyethic wrote: I'm curious about the push-pull ration. I know for sure I'm out of balance. I'm benching around 250#, whereas my upright rows are closer to 150 or less. I'm doing pullups with around 60# weight (2x6) Given your ratio recommendation, my current balance seems completely out of whack.
Firstly as Stuward said the ratio is for total reps, not weight. It's actually easier than you think especially if you get out of the '3 x 8' mindset and just assume there's no standard rep range. In that case there seems nothing wrong, for example, with doing 6 x 10 seated rows. This is also where shoulder circuits come in handy because you can get loads of reps in a short amount of time and just throw them into the end of a workout. As long as the movements target some or all of - shoulder blade retraction, depression (back and down) and/or upward rotation (think prone Y's).

Also, in terms of 'balancing your pushing and pulling', Upright Rows isn't something I would count in the 'pulling' category. It's probably the only exception. Just has too much internal rotation whilst in the impingement zone which causes too much shoulder stress to be seen as something that 'evens out' the stress that pressing causes therefore, if you're going to do them, count them in your 'pressing' ratio.
Onlyethic wrote: As for ab, are you recommending I avoid rectus abdominus-specific work for the time being? Let the squats and dl's target the rectus abdominus?
Yes. Actually I wouldn't often recommend specific RA work in most cases unless there's good reason to see it as a weakness. Otherwise, the RA never works in isolation so in my view you sell yourself short by trying to isolate it and neglecting all the other core muscles (although it's debatable whether situp/crunches actually preferentually recruit the RA over the hip flexors anyway but, regardless, it's not something I personally see much sense in).

I would recommend that the majority of 'ab work' you do targets you're obliques but, with a stable (i.e. it doesn't move) lower spine, like sideplank variations, pallof presses, and one armed farmers walks. If you want to do anything else on top of that then I would use plank and rollout variations as, these engage all your core muscles at once as opposed to attempting to isolate the Rectus Abdominis. If i'm right, then doing anything that targets your obliques will be pretty difficult and therefore, should be something to focus on.
Onlyethic wrote: And, I do front squats now, not back. But, to be honest, I'm woefully weak on them.
All the more reason to do them :grin: They force you to keep a stable spine, which is why I think they're so valuable. I have a beginner training with me just now who has the back posture from hell and front squats work great for him.

YOu can only try these things and see how it goes. I always say you should notice a difference in a few weeks or else something is wrong or alternatively, everything is right but your just not doing it enough. Note that I don't mean 'fixed' in a few weeks, just a noticable difference. Obviously another thing to consider is, make sure your not spending most of the day sitting/standing around with a rounded back as, this will just feed the imbalance....

KPj

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:00 pm
by frogbyte
A while back I mentioned The New Rules of Posture by Mary Bond which talks about stuff like this. Ironman didn't endorse it, but he hadn't actually read it, so I think that can be safely ignored.

Posted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 5:14 am
by KPj
I had a read through her blog. On one hand I got a really bad first impression. Big proponent of Pilates which normally means they believe in stretching the hell out of anything and everything just for the sake of doing it, and 'drawing in' the abs and things like that which I don't agree with. Not to mention the claim that pilates only classes can leave you with a 'stiff and muscle bound technique' (i knew I was doing something wrong lifting all those weights and eating all that food). However I read some other posts and there was mention of 'stiffnes' and 'co-contraction' of the core muscles which would suggest a slightly different train of thought so that put me back on the fence.

KPj

Posted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:37 pm
by frogbyte
Well the book is mainly about increasing awareness. Not any intense stretching/exercise recommendations. The postural ideas were helpful. Although the book isn't about exercise, one thing I might consider controversial were a few minor points in the book about not holding your breath during exertion, whereas I've fallen more in the Rippetoe camp on that one.

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:20 am
by Jungledoc
frogbyte wrote:...holding your breath during exertion, whereas I've fallen more in the Rippetoe camp on that one.
As has anyone who has ever tried to pick up something really heavy.

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:10 pm
by frogbyte
Yeah, as Rippetoe discusses in one of his youtubes. I do think there's a balance though, as he alludes to in one video. Too big a breath would seem to be a risk for hernia.