Low Back Pain Part 3

The exercises depicted in the video are common warm-ups that I would consider contraindicated

We constantly need to be reminded that the lumbar spine is a series of joints with limited range of motion. These joints should be trained for stability and attempts to increase mobility at the spine are short sighted. We should be training the hips and thoracic spine for mobility and the lumbar spine for stability. This is a quote from a reader who I recently encouraged to stop rotating the lumbar spine


I am a golfer who suffered from low back pain.  I was doing an enormous amount of “what I thought good” spinal twisting to increase my flexibility.  I did not make the connection that the twisting was doing more harm than good until I purchased Mike’s “Joint By Joint Warmup & Training”.  In the DVD set Mike gave his opinion about the twisting and while his view, according to him, might be controversial he just put it out there that the spinal twists created more mobility than the lumbar spine was designed for and consequently did more harm than good.  He opted for lumbar stability.  Mike and I exchanged a few emails about this and he asked that I record my level of pain at the beginning of changing my routine and reevaluate two weeks later.  Here are the results.  I noted the pain at the start as:  Standing – 5, Lying Down on back – 8 (tingly sensation), Getting up from a chair after sitting for a while – 8 (bent over until stiffness went away), Driving in car for a distance – 8 (bent over when getting out until stiffness went away), Golf especially short irons – 9 (had to wait for the spasm to calm down before I could swing).  I totally cut out any spinal twists and practiced lumbar stabilization as outlined by Mike.  Here are the results after two weeks.  Standing – 2, Lying down on back – 3, getting out of a chair – 4, driving – 4, golf – 0.  I did not change or add anything else since I wanted to eliminate any other possibility from factoring in.  I had been working my glutes very hard and I think they are a key component in a strong back but it was not until I stopped the spinal twists and started stabilizing the lumbar spine that I noticed any results.



 For a more detailed explanation check out Is Rotation Training Hurting Your Performance at http://www.strengthcoach.com . You can learn more about concepts like these from 
A Joint by Joint Approach to Warm-up and Training from www.performbetter.com .

5 Responses to “Low Back Pain Part 3”

  1. Check this Mike!
    Functional training is so messed up (confused) here in Brazil.
    Check this smith machine! (http://www.righetto.com.br/pop_treinamento.php).”It is the last innovation in functional training”.
    The machine goes forward-backward and it is called functional.

  2. Coach Boyle,

    I suppose the real question would be what advantages would these contraindicated exercises confer…..in someone who is already having issues, there’d likely be more negatives not to mention plenty of other ways to develop the needed mobility in the proper places. And in a healthy individual they likely wouldn’t add anything, may cause potential new issues to arise, and are patterns that would rarely, if ever, be encountered in sport or life in general. Plus, if they were to be encountered, you’d likely need to resist this tendency for the lower body to rotate on a fixed torso/decelerate the applied force….which leads us right back to t-spine and hip mobility + training for lumbar stability

  3. mboyle1959 Says:

    I think they are all contraindicated but, as you mention someone with good t-spine mobility “might” be OK. I still think they are all a bad idea in general.

  4. Hey Mike, quick question.

    I’ve had the opportunity to be able to work with the AP team on many different occassions and we’ve had the conversation about the lumbar rotation warm-ups. Even though scorpions and some variations of the hip crossover have been seen as contraindicative the last exercise in the video above is something that they still use.

    I had a short conversation with Nick Winkelman last week and the AP folks see the iron crossover as more of an integrated stretch for the posterior chain. I have good thoracic spine mobility and I use the iron cross in my warm-up during my own workouts and before I roll during my brazilian jiu-jitsu practices/matches. I have no problem with the stretch because I usually move in the same way when I’m on my back in the guard position.

    I’ve looked at Shirly Sahrmann’s work and I understand the 13-15degrees of motion around the lumbar spine. But would you say that this exercise is more contraindicated with someone with poor thoracic mobility?

    Someone with poor throacic mobility is already going to have increased abnormal mobility at the lumbar spine which could add to the problem. But do think that someone with good thoracic mobility/extension will still have a problem with this movement?

    Thanks in advance for the feedback.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: