Toes to the Bar?


From a reader ( and a chiropractor)  via email

“I have a a question regarding the movement  “Toes2Bar”.  I have several die hards for patients and despite my best efforts to educate them, they just never seem to be able to wrap their head around the fact that all this lumbar flexion and high volume are causing back injury.  That being said, I wanted to get your take on the amount of lumbar disc loading that might go on during this toes2bar movement.  Personally I have tried them and I do notice my back is sore the next day.  Just wondering if you thought this movement might load the spine less than an actual situp or crunch, similar to the SL situp you advocate.”

My response-

1- I recently heard an anecdotal report about a severe skull fracture from losing grip on Toes-to-the-bar. Most people use momentum to get the last few and if grip fails the results could be catastrophic.

2- Toes to the bar is hip flexion aided by momentum with the hands acting as a fixed point. As many readers know, the  psoas pulls directly on the lumbar spine. This sounds like a prescription for failure. Sahrmann’s straight leg situp on the other hand is a slow controled movement in which neither end of the chain is fixed. Very different.
3- People have always liked the hanging knee up exercises ( toes to the bar is simply a more “advanced” knee up) because they make you sore and sore equates with good. The reality is that the abs get sore from attempting to control the eccentric action of the leg lowering. Not a great concept.
In any case, I’m obviously not a fan. However, it’s a great exercise for the chiros and PT’s out there as it will keep the patients coming.

10 Responses to “Toes to the Bar?”

  1. mboyle1959 Says:

    I keep hoping that someone will start a registry of Crossfit injuries.

  2. I partially tore my supraspinatus doing Toes to bars.

  3. tomas pilsborg Says:

    only the ones that are not ready for the movement does what you wright.
    The ones with sufficient stregth and coordination does what iI wright

  4. mboyle1959 Says:

    I guess that is where we disagree. To get “toes to the bar” people fling there legs up. That creates a rotational force going backward, like a back flip. Very different from overhead press variations where you would have to drop the load on your head.

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  5. tomas pilsborg Says:

    The list is short, there is none, and the T2B is not on it, because the only reason a skull fracture could happen, is if the person doing them, is not aware of grip strength vs. straight arm extension.
    But if you really think it should be on the list, then you should but Jerks, Pushpresses and Military press, since all 3, if done with more weight than can be handled, can result in a skull feature!!!

    The T2B, in my opinion, and i can´t talk for others, is about the shoulders and the scapula, so what happens down south, is not the most important.
    But i guess if you were to do a back flip, then you would have to start the movement from cervical and thorasic extension, and the end, with a counteraction of the forced lumbar extension/ecentric loading of the psoas, through explosive lumbar and hip flexion

  6. mboyle1959 Says:

    Tomas- thanks for the reply. Can you make a short ( and realistic) list of the other exercises that could result in skull fracture? Not too many come to mind for me? Even with chin up variations done to failure a fall would probably land you on your feet or your butt?

    As for the psaos being loaded eccentrically? Maybe if you were a punter in American football? Other wise psoas is a trunk stablizer or a hip flexor with the knee bent?

  7. Drew Little Says:

    Jeez, skull fracture? Do you remember where you heard that report or do you have a link?

    I just sent this to a crossfit friend of mine who does this exercise a lot and mentioned their psoas being tight and their back hurting. Hopefully this sinks in.

  8. tomas pilsborg Says:

    First, my reply is not!! Crossfit is good and everything else is bad.
    My comment has nothing to do with crossfit, which would normally be thought, since the T2B is generally used there.
    1. a lot of exercises can end up in a skull fracture
    2. why is counteracting the ecentric load fra the psoas a bad thing, if you are strong enough?? Is it not up to the strength coach to eval??
    In my opinion, bought right, this exercise, when you are ready for it, is a great exercise for straight arm strength.
    It is not initiated from the momentum of the legs, but from the dynamic and strict motion from the GH and the scapula.
    So if you are strong enough and controlled enough, should that not be ok??

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