Saturday, October 22, 2011

Stability Before Mobility

The point of resistance training is to build muscle tone, and gain all the benefits that go with that—stronger bones, improved metabolism, better physique, etc.  Unfortunately, if done incorrectly, resistance training can lead to injuries like low back pain.  How can that be prevented?

One major way that injuries can be prevented is with stability in your core region (your abdominals, low back, and sides of your torso).  If you knew someone was going to jab you in the stomach, what’s the first thing you do?  You flex your stomach muscles and try to make your stomach as hard as you can, so that the punch won’t have any effect.  You’re protecting your core muscles and your spine. 

It’s the same type of thing when you lift a weight.  Your spine and core (think low back) need to be protected from the extra force of the weight you are going to lift.  If you don’t prepare your core and just lift the weight, your torso sways as you lift, or your back over-arches, and those muscles are unprotected.  Those muscles aren’t meant to do the work to lift that weight, and asking them to do so might cause an injury.

What is the job of your core muscles?  Your core muscles are meant for stability and endurance.  They hold you stable as you push or pull open a heavy door, or lift those bags of groceries.  As for endurance, they are what keep your torso upright all day.  There are exercises to strengthen them for those purposes, and there are movements to avoid to prevent injury.

“Brace your core.”  It’s one of the most commonly used cues from a personal trainer or fitness instructor, and rightly so.  I can help you learn how to brace your core in preparation for lifting.  I can also help you safely strengthen your core muscles as your whole body grows stronger.  I can help you avoid injury.

Fitness is attainable.  You just have to know what you’re doing, why, and put in the effort.  It’s my job to help you with all three.

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