Bird Dog vs Back Extension: which is the best exercise for lower back pain

Jun 18, 2021
 

When it comes to exercises for lower back pain, there are plenty to choose from, but how do you know which ones are right for you?

Some exercises can help lower back pain and some can hinder it, it all depends on your situation, but arming yourself with information about how each exercise works anatomically is a great place to start in working out which will be most effective.

Why are some exercises better than others for low back pain

Different exercises will require your body to undertake distinct movements, each bringing different muscles into play and exerting force on your spine and other joints. This can be in the form of compression, over extension or ineffective working of the muscles. To get the most out of any exercise you perform, your goal should be to maximise muscular activity while reducing the risk of further injury.

In this tutorial we’ve chosen to compare the Bird Dog and the Back Extensions, two commonly selected exercises for lower back strength and...

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The Limitations of the McKenzie floppy push up that can create more lower back pain

May 16, 2021
 

The floppy push-up, or McKenzie press-up, as you might have heard it called, is an exercise that is often prescribed as a way to help overcome low back pain. There are good anatomical reasons why that is the case, however, there are also limitations that it’s important to understand before you decide whether this is the right approach for you.

 What is the McKenzie floppy push-up?

To perform a floppy push-up, first lay down on your front. With your hips touching the floor, gradually push up onto your hands, bringing your head and chest upwards away from the floor. You’ll notice you’re creating an exaggerated curve in the lower spine and it’s this that physiotherapist Robin McKenzie, advocate of this approach, claimed could have a positive impact on lower back pain.

And he was right, to a point.

To explain, we need to turn to anatomy.

The anatomy of a disc bulge

The floppy push-up is said to help reduce the pain caused by disc bulges and herniation, so...

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5 of the best core exercises for beginners that build fitness and reduce injury

Apr 21, 2021
 

As a beginner to the world of core training, it is vital that you go about things in the right way.

Exercises you choose should be simple to understand and to master, they should work on the fundamental aspects of core strength and stability, and they should offer a robust foundation from which you can build.

Of course, when we’re exercising, we want to push our bodies and try out more and more complex exercises. But I believe it’s so important to get these foundations right that I’ve chosen five key exercises and made them the cornerstone of my online core strength and stability programme.

I talk you through them below, but if you prefer a more visual approach, you’ll find plenty of images as well as more detailed explanations of the muscles you’re using in the video linked above.

5 of the best core exercises for beginners

  1. The Plank

How?

Yes, the pros might pride themselves on being able to hold a plank rock steady, for a minute or even more, but...

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Stop making these 3 core training errors and optimise your strength

Mar 17, 2021
 

 Core training isn’t just about achieving that flat, six-pack stomach or abs. It’s far more important than that!

Strong core muscles are vital to support your body and aid even the most common of everyday movements, from running and walking to sitting, bending and carrying the shopping. If your core muscles are weak it can lead to problems with the spine as well as other parts of the body such as the hips and shoulders.

But unfortunately, many of the things we’ve been taught are good to develop core strength can actually do more harm than good. And I’ve seen these problems affect people time and again.

What are the 3 fundamental errors people make when train their core?

It’s easy to make mistakes when training, but it’s important to learn what will and won’t benefit your body so that these errors can be kept to a minimum.

  1. Doing sit-ups and crunches

Just because once upon a time we were told that sit-ups and crunches were the thing to...

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How to improve your Core Stability with one exercise

Feb 15, 2021
 

We’ve talked about core stability plenty of times on the blog, discussing the anatomy surrounding it as well as various exercises that can help to improve our balance and coordination. I often talk about the fact that core stability, unlike core strength, is about muscle timing and smoothness of movement. It’s not how many repetitions of an exercise you can do, but the quality of the movement that is important.

The limitations of training for core stability

When we train for core stability, we are really looking at general principles. This is because core stability is specific to the aspect of sport and fitness we’re doing. Whether we’re running, cycling or swimming, a strong core can help us to balance, maintain the correct position and support the larger muscles to generate the power and consistency we need.

One exercise to help improve core stability

If I had to recommend just one exercise to help you work on these general principles of core stability,...

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The limitation of the McGill's Big 3

Jan 14, 2021
 

McGill’s ‘Big 3’

Thanks to years studying the spine, Dr McGill has identified three specific exercises that work together to effectively rehabilitate the back and build core stability. Known throughout the industry as ‘the Big 3’, these are some of the first exercises reached for by people and professionals alike when trying to overcome lower back pain.

In this tutorial, however, I want to explain why I think there’s more to it than that.

What do I know?

I’m not trying to be controversial, or to negate the work Dr McGill has done. I use it with people with lower back pain all the time, so I have a good understanding and appreciation of it. But we do have to understand the context in which we’re doing the exercises and make sure we don’t build them up to be something that they’re not.

I’ve read all four of Dr McGill’s books, I’ve completed his level one foundation course, his level two course on assessing...

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Lower back pain: One essential exercise to help heal a disc bulge

Dec 16, 2020
 

 Have you ever thought about how hard your spine has to work? It allows you to stand and bend. It enables you to walk and move around. In fact, it’s integral to almost every movement you do. And if you suffer with any degree of pain in your spine, you’ll know it can be really quite debilitating, impacting on large parts of everyday life.

Unfortunately, as we age, our spine starts to degenerate and weaken, leading to ‘wear and tear’ of its various parts. In today’s tutorial I want to talk about one such issue that can crop up, the bulging or herniated disc, as well as exercises I advise (and don’t advise!) you to do to aid recovery.

What are spinal discs?

Your spine is made up of 33 vertebrae which are split into five different categories, or types, depending on where they sit and how they behave. The lowest nine, around the tailbone or sacrum, are fused together, however the remainder, from the lumbar region upwards are separated by spinal...

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Scoliosis: 5 Fundamentals of Scoliosis Treatment

Nov 16, 2020
 

The first step in learning how to stretch out or rehabilitate a specific condition is to understand what’s happening anatomically. Without that detailed knowledge, it’s difficult to understand the reasons behind particular movements and techniques. Which means it’s hard to stay motivated.

If you can see how or why something works, you’re much more likely to stick to it and therefore more likely to see results.

That’s why in this tutorial I want to talk about the way I approach scoliosis treatment and how and why this can help improve associated back pain and discomfort.

What impact does scoliosis have on the body?

Scoliosis causes curvature of the spine. It can be present from birth, or more usually appears during adolescence. Sometimes this may be as part of a condition such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, but often the cause is unknown. Depending on where on the spine the curve occurs, and how severe it is, this may be visible, affecting a...

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Core Stability: How to Train Your Small Stabilising Muscles

Oct 15, 2020
 

I fundamentally believe that one of the best ways to succeed in core training is to understand, anatomically, what it is doing for you and how your body is benefiting from the exercises you choose to do. That’s why I almost always stray into the biology when I’m presenting these concepts in my YouTube tutorials.

And this one is no exception. Here we look at core stability and how and why you can take it to the next level by focusing in on the bodily systems that work so closely together to keep us balanced and moving smoothly.

What is core stability?

As we often discuss, core stability is different to core strength. Core strength is your ability to hold a posture. Whereas core stability is about the timing of muscle movements. It’s about the small adjustments our body makes almost all of the time to improve our balance and keep us moving smoothly and efficiently.

We’re not talking about the big global force-production muscles that give us the strength and...

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Exercise for low back pain: Why you should stop doing back extensions

Sep 15, 2020
 

Back extensions are popular with people looking to target and rehabilitate their lower back. But if you’re in that position or these have been suggested by your trainer, there are a few reasons you should think twice before giving them a place in your exercise regime. 

In this blog we’ll look at some of the anatomical reasons you should think about your approach to low back rehabilitation differently. We refer to the book, Low Back Disorder by internationally recognised low back specialist, Dr Stuart McGill, and we look at an alternative exercise that could work to help improve your low back pain.

First, some anatomy to help us understand the back muscles at play

When we’re talking about the lower back and lumbar region, we often talk about groups of muscles called extensors, flexors and iliopsoas. These attach to the spine via soft tissues or tendons. And if injured or weakened can cause pain in this tendinous lower back area. 

This time though,...

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