#SmashMonday – Posture

Today we’ll be talking about some of the most common postural problems that can be seen in parkour athletes.

In the previous episodes we talked about standing precision jumps, and in this video we will take a look at some of the issues that may arrive with its practice. One of the most common has to be a pain in the lower back, occurring at the takeoff, when the back fully extends.  Many conclude that this is due to weak lower back, and then proceed with strengthening it, doing back extensions, deadlifts etc. Little do they know, they are only making it worse and the problem is of the opposite nature most likely. Keep in mind that not every case is the same. There can be a lot more reasons why this pain occurs, but the most common, in traceurs, is the one we’re going to discuss. It’s a postural problem called hyperlordosis, it represents the exaggerated curvature of the lumbar spine. The pain associated is uncommon in most people, but in athletes it’s a different matter. Facet joints between vertebrae can become irritated, triggering pain signals in nearby nerves. The pain is sudden and sharp, and can be located in a single point in the peak of the low back curvature. 

So let’s dive to the root of the problem, and take a look at why do these problems occur and how to actually fix them. 

Our bodies are doing their best to adapt to conditions we place them in. If we lift weights our bodies adapt by making us stronger. If we don’t elongate muscles to their full length often, like it’s usually the case in sedentary life, they tend to shorten and strength training also further contributes to that.

 

When the muscle shortens, it pulls the bones it’s attached to, changing the joint angle. In combination with weak and long antagonist muscles (muscles that are performing the opposite action), it creates an imbalance in the joint system, and it changes its default position. 


Here are the muscles responsible for maintaining the posture of the lumbar spine. We have back muscles as our trunk extensors, our abs as our trunk flexors, our glutes as our hip extensors, and our iliopsoas as our hip flexors. They all need to be in balance to keep a healthy posture, and if any of them becomes too strong or tight in comparison to others, the posture is infringed. 

In a precision jump, your back muscles are working really hard at extending in the propulsion phase. The hip flexors are the ones bringing your legs towards the chest in the landing phase. Those two muscle groups are working harder than their antagonists, resulting in pelvis nutation or forward tilting which is forcing you to further curve your back in order to stay upright.

Of course the solution is to bring back balance to those four muscle groups.
You need to strengthen the abdominal muscles without strengthening hip flexors. You only want movement in the trunk, and not in the hips. Start like you’re doing regular crunches, but stop once you feel the hips start activating, and keep training in this range of motion.

To strengthen the glutes, a simple glute bridge is very effective. You can practice it statically or do the raises, and even add weight or a band to make it harder.
Hip flexors and trunk extensors need to be stretched. Place one leg in front and kneel on the other one (placing something soft underneath for comfort). Tilt your pelvis, and press forward. You should feel the stretch at the hips and quads.

To stretch the lower back, sit on the floor and place your legs in front like so, grab the feet from the outer side and pull, bringing the chest to the heels. Another version looks even weirder but should be even more effective. Lay on your back and find something like this to push with your legs.

Fixing the posture requires consistency, but shouldn’t take too long before you start noticing improvements.

We hope that this was helpful and informative, feel free to ask any questions in the comments below, peace!

 

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