Down and Out

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Lower back pain is nothing to mess with. If you experience any pain in that area you should immediately treat it. You may also want to see a physical therapist or chiropractor if the pain is chronic.

You can also work on those nagging pains yourself at home, at yoga, or after class using equipment we have at the gym. Whatever it takes; you need to get the strained or spasming tissue moving again.

One reason why you could experience lower back pain is because your pelvis is out of position. You can self diagnose this by looking into a mirror and putting your thumbs where the two bones that stick out (interior superior iliac spine) on top of your pelvis are. If one thumb is higher than the other, something is out of whack.

This can also be done with a partner on the backside, above your butt, where the other two bones are sticking out (posterior superior iliac spine).

If you find that you are out of alignment, or if you’re experiencing general lower back pain, check out the videos below. All three of these videos are from MobilityWOD. If you have not joined MobilityWOD yet you should. A one month trial is $8.99. There is a daily video showing how to mobilize all parts of your body. It’s well worth it!

Mobility Exercises

The HyperMobile Athlete and Low Back Pain
You will need a band for this one. Fold the band in half, put both legs through and position the band right above your knees. First, squeeze your butt. Then, brace your abs as if someone were going to punch you in the stomach. Now, to create pelvic torsion, screw your feet into the ground by externally rotating. Once you have done this, with the band around your legs, start to sit down into your squat forcing your knees out.

The Pelvic Fault and Low Back Pain
Lie on your back with your knees pointing up at the ceiling. Bring your feet off the ground creating a ninety-degree angle at your knees. Place one hand above your kneecap, pushing your knee away from you. Place your other hand on your upper shin on the opposite leg, right below your kneecap, pulling towards you. Try to resist both movements by pushing your lower back into the ground. Remain under tension for five seconds, then switch sides. Repeat ten times on each side. I’m no mathematician but I believe this will take an entire two hundred seconds, or three minutes and twenty seconds. About the same time as a commercial on TV.

Help, My Low Back Is Smoked From Jumping
If you are experiencing pain or tightness from jumping, squatting, or long runs, this is a great exercise to loosen up the psoas (muscle that connects your spine to your pelvis), and quadratus lumborum (your obliques of your lower back). Grab a lacrosse ball and place it on the top of your glute, pinning it against the wall, then roll out that area. You can also swing your leg through as if you were jumping while still keeping the lacrosse ball connected to the wall. After ten swings, internally rotate your hip as you swing through. Make sure you do this on both sides so you don’t walk around in circles all day.

Using the same lacrosse ball lie on your back with your feet on the couch or a box. Place the lacrosse ball under your lower back. Start at the spine with the ball and shift your weight from side to side.

If you are having a tough time self motivating, come to one of our yoga classes. You will get ample time to work on problem areas. See you there!

Add power to your game

In golf, hockey, lacrosse, baseball, and pretty much any sport involving a stick, rotation in your thoracic spine is crucial to creating power.

Here are two simple stretches from the Titleist Performance Institute that will help you gain the flexibility you need to get more distance off the tee or increase the velocity of your slap shot. If you don’t play a sport, but you’d like to add to your mobility routine, throw these into the mix.

A-Frame Stretch:
This stretch targets your thoracic spine, shoulders, and chest.

  1. Start in your deadlift position: shoulders back, bend at the knee, hinge at the hip.
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  2. Place your elbow inside one knee.IMG_0678
  3. Reach your other hand behind you and rotate until it’s pointing vertically.
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  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Open Books:
This stretch helps you gain flexibility in your thoracic spine, chest, shoulders, and rib cage.

  1. Lie on your side with your knees bent and pinned together, and your arms out in front of you – place the hand of the shoulder connected to the ground on your knee.IMG_0713
  2. Rotate your top arm all the way across your body, keeping your knees connected to the ground.
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  3. The goal is to touch your knuckles to the ground, keeping your arm at chest level.
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  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

Get Warm

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There are lots of different ways that you can prepare for a workout. Some are better than others, and what works best can certainly be specific to the individual, but there are a few points that are pretty universal when it comes to properly warming up.

First, get your body temperature up. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but make sure it consists of low impact movements that aren’t immediately challenging the range of motion in your joints. Especially if you’re at an early morning class and you’re fresh out of bed, or if you have been trapped in the confines of a chair all day, it’s extra important to get blood pumping through your body before you ask too much of it. Don’t overthink it – when you’re sweaty, you’re good.

If you feel specifically tight in one area, work on some light mobility and stretching. If you have a legitimate issue that you know you need to work on, you should be spending some time working on that at home. Pre-workout, just make sure you are able to get into the positions that the workout calls for without issue. Getting warm before mobility work will only help.

The next time you show up to class early, try and spend a couple of extra minutes on your warm-up and see how much better you feel by the time the workout begins.

A Challenge For You

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Whether you’re an athlete trying to recover from training (you are!), or you’re someone who is looking to not feel like poo all the time from so many hours spent at a desk, treating your body to some dedicated mobility work could not be more important.

Unfortunately, more often than not, the thought of working on everything that could use some attention can be an overwhelming one. Maybe you know that your hamstrings are too tight, and your hip flexors need some work, and now it has been brought to your attention that your ankles aren’t moving as they should, oh yeah, and those damn shoulders! Arg! It is of no surprise that people feel overwhelmed – there are a lot of areas to work on!

So keeping this (and the fact that you have a life to live) in mind, if your mobility habits are lacking here’s what I propose for you: spend 15 minutes per day working on something. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but set a clock and get down to business. If you know that something specifically has been setting you back, then start there. What you’ll find is that with some dedicated work on a regular basis, things will start to get better. Then once you have a handle on the immediately pressing issues, you can start chipping away at the other areas.

The trick is getting the ball rolling. Don’t let what might seem like a daunting task prevent you from starting down the road to progress.

Remember that asking your body to change can take some time. The changes that happened when you started doing CrossFit didn’t happen overnight, but after some dedication you were able to start seeing some changes. If you’re not paying attention to it now, I can guarantee that at some point in your life you are going to have to begin working on your mobility. Is it really worth it to wait until you have a problem on your hands (or hips, or back, etc.) to start taking care of it?

MobilityWOD Super Nova

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Kelly Starrett of MobilityWOD has been creating his own mobility tools to be used in conjunction with Daily RX feature of his site for a while now. He was the initial force behind using a lacrosse ball for recovery and has since developed some tools of his own that are a little more mobility specific.

The Super Nova has been out of stock for a long while now, but was recently put back on the shelves in the Rogue store. This ball is great because it is easier to use on some of the areas that the lacrosse ball is too small for (hi, glutes/hamstrings!). Also, the texture of the ball does a great job of getting matted tissue moving again, as it is able to grip more thoroughly than a smooth ball would.

The Super Nova isn’t a one-stop-shop for mobility, but it is a great addition to your arsenal of recovery/mobility tools. If you’re interested in more info about how this ball is best put to use, you can check out the tutorial video that Starrett created for the Super Nova here.