Have you ever had lower back problems? Like some sort of pain or pinching sensation? I know I have. In fact one of the first injuries I had was back in 8th grade when I started getting serious in my basketball training.
So back to my story. I was running and all of a sudden changed directions and felt something weird in my lower back.
A Kind of Pinching
It was a very nagging sensation and I tried all sorts of things – like massaging my lower back and resting. But the pain persisted. I was going to a gym to workout on weekends.
I didn’t have a clue about training so all I was doing was training my calves with calf raises (for basketball), my abs with leg lifts (for girls) and my arms with dumbbell biceps curls (I guess for myself lol).
So anyway, after I got myself injured and having tried to alleviate my pain, I went to the gym as usual on the weekend. A strange thing happened. As I was doing my hanging leg raises, I felt my lower back get better.
Got Home and Still Felt Better
After a few weekends of this training, my lower back pain disappeared. I had stumbled upon something profound. It seemed that the lower back and and the muscles of the abdominal low were somehow connected.
I now realize that because I was inactive prior to jumping head first into my basketball training, my core – lower back and abs were not ready to support my newly grown teenage body in such an intense activity. A strong core – lower back and abdominal muscles – is the foundation of an athletic and injury free body.
In this article I describe the arch position as a way to protect your lower back. The cute girl on the beach is demonstrating it superbly – you want to have a nice arch in the lower back.
The Arch Position
Here is how to learn the arch position – the natural strongest and safest position for your lower back. Get down on the floor on your stomach and have your arms outstretched. Lift your feet a bit off the ground.
Now, slightly lift your arms which should be extended in front of you. Lift off a bit your chest and shoulders as well as your chin. Flex your glutes and lower back. Hold this slightly arched position.
The Arch Position In Sports
Now, whenever you are performing exercises such as squats and deadlifts, what you want to do is hold the arch position or at least a flat lower back. In this position the lower back is the strongest and the safest.
The different joints and regions throughout your body are designed for different functions – either stability or mobility. For example, the ankle joint is designed for mobility and that’s why it is a bad idea to wrap up your feet super tight when playing ball. The knee is a hinge joint and so it is not for mobility.
Hence the injuries when skiing or from playing basketball with super tight sneakers because of the lack of mobility from the ankle joint forces the knee to be mobile and it gets injured in painful ways.
So back to the role of the lower back region. It is designed for stability. If you were to get only one tip from reading this blog, let it be this: learn to hold the arch position of the lower back nice and tight. It will save you lots of unnecessary pain in sports, training and in life.
The Superman: the Best Way to Learn the Arch
Here is a very comprehensive video explaining the superman exercise. This is probably the best way to feel the lower back muscles working just right – the way you want them to work in the arch position. To feel the position it is sufficient to just lift both your arms and legs.
Note:In Part 2 of this series we will take a look at the hollow position, the opposite of the arch position, and how to get control over your abdominal muscles.
Babe by Vincent