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In the gym we often meet young and old that continue to do what they always have done.  Many continue to perform the same exercises that they were taught by the front desk staff 30 years prior.  How great to see people in their 90's still working out.   I hope I'm able to continue to work out safely for the next 50 years.

BACK KILLER #1 - Sit-ups and Weighted Sit-ups

Trainers continue to teach this one.  I know we all want that shredded six pack. Just like Mr. Ty Bow. Sit-ups cause the reversal of your normal lumbar curve causing undue pressure on your spinal discs and spinal cord.  Complete rupture of a disc in experiments is approximately 1600 psi and the sit-up generates approximately 1400 psi.  I know what you want to say! "I only do crunches on a swiss ball."  They also tested crunches  on a swiss ball which generates 1200 psi on the lumbar discs. Please avoid this back killer #1.  

BACK KILLER #2 - Leg Press

Its always fun to hear how many hundreds of pounds you can press. It seem the only reason people due this exercise is for bragging rights around the gym.  This exercise again reverses the normal lumbar curve putting pressure on your spinal discs.  Remember complete explosion is 1600 psi.  How much pressure does a 1000 lbs leg press generate?  We don't know. Lots!  

Modifications to this exercise to make a little bit safer are:  drop the weight,  put a towel or small foam roller under your lower back.  Please avoid this exercise if you already have a terrible back.

BACK KILLER #3 - Dead-Lifts

Poor technique will kill your back.  Almost every young gym enthusiast over the years reports  perfect technique with the dead-lift.  It's amazing to be around so many perfect people, however when ask to show me perfect dead-lift technique.  I typically call them out about the rounding of their lower back. WRONG! They then typically take a redo and then perform a perfect dead lift.  Let me say it again poor technique kills backs.  Make sure when performing weighted dead lifts do not round your lower back during the placement and lifting of the weight.  Over the years I have met the same number of people with broken backs related to the dead-lift as those that claim perfectionism.

Modifications to this exercise are: less weight, raise weights from a box, use heal lifts, drop the weight to the floor and never lose the lumbar curve.   

BACK KILLER #3 - Kettle Bell Swings

Again poor technique will kill your back.  This is a great exercise when performed correctly.  According to Tim Ferris (famous guy - 4hour Body) this exercise is great for developing a great butt. Over the years I've seen many injuries because of this exercise. It's an injury almost always associated with a boot camp or group type exercise class.   Make sure that you maintain a lumbar curve during the entire swing and hinge at the hips.  Imagine a bolt passing through your body from your left hip to your right hip.  Make sure you have a trainer or friend critique your swings making sure your form is correct.  Do not add weight to quickly to this exercise.

Modifications for this exercise: push your butt out, raise your heels  1/2" with something and shoulders back

BACK KILLER #4 - Burpees

Another one of those boot camp exercises that can destroy your back in one burpee. This is another one that has killed many backs and meant lots of visits to the Nanaimo Chiropractor.  Its included in all those popular video series such as DOPE98 and Insomnia Xrtreme P98.  If it is part of your exercise program learn the proper technique.  The problem with this  exercise again becomes when you go from the standing position to a push-up the lumbar curve is lost with poor technique.  I like to help clients understand burpees with this question.  What happens to a metal coat hanger as you bend it back and forth many times?  Maybe complete explosion of your lumbar disc and spinal surgery.  How many times are you typically asked to perform a burpee in a boot camp or video? Lots and Lots! Please be careful and review proper technique online.  Check out Performance U (Youtube.com) instructions on this exercise.

Modifications - Slow down the exercise, If your getting tired quit and do not reverse the lumbar curve

BACK KILLER #5 - Weighted Back Extensions

It's just like the sit-up.  Whats going to happen to the spine if you perform repeated flexion and extension with a 45lbs plate.  Combine this with showing up at the gym 30 minutes out of bed with stiff joints, ligament, compressed discs and muscles.  This has disaster written all over it.  However, isometric unweighted back extension may reduce back pain.  I would use this exercise only as an isometric hold in order to train lumbar & glut muscle endurance for injury prevention (hockey, rugby).  


It has to be described because there's no other way.  I just want to say their on the right track, however need to focus on the details in developing proper rotation strengthen.  It's typically looks like some guy doing a new dance move or a guy imitating a garden sprinkler  with a cable machine in hand.  Don't twist your lumbar spine!  Please consider training your abdominal and lumbar spine to resist rotation. uh!  Are you confused?  I've talked to many trainers, gym enthusiasts and young athletes, however they are all stuck on beach muscle development, power moves (with sloppy technique) or the circle of machines at the gym (just like curves).  If you need more explanation about the Why?  Review Mike Boyle's joint by joint training model (online).

The optimum function of your abdominal area and lumbar spine area is to resist all movement (maintain your normal lumbar curve).  If your interested in learning these techniques only hire the trainer that under stands these concepts.


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