Stiff Back? You Might Be Hurting It By Stretching

May 16, 2013 | Kasey Esser

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Curing a stiff or achy lower back requires more than dropping back into child's pose.

It's a common misconception. Although a static backstretch may feel awesome, it's actually ineffective for stretching back muscles. This is due to the fact that you may just be stretching your neural tissues.

According to Dr. Stuart McGill, neural tension is commonly mistaken for muscle tension. Your nerves weren't designed to stretch but to slide and give. This is what allows movement. Based on McGill's research, from a neural perspective, static stretching "deadens" muscles.

Deadened muscle tissue could cause performance problems because it diminishes the stretch reflex, decreasing peak strength and power.

To avoid this potential issue, athletes must focus more on dynamic movement in their thoracic spine and hips. Increased mobility gives the low back stability.

Following the principles of Mike Boyle's and Gray Cook's "Joint-by-Joint Approach," you can reduce low back stiffness by including at least one thoracic spine and hip mobility drill in each workout.

Get started today with the following drills. I highly recommend them as suitable for any athlete.

Welcome to the new form of back stretching. At the beginning and end of your workouts, perform 10 to 12 repetitions of each drill.

Side-Lying Extension-Rotation

This active mobility drill will open up your thoracic spine. Just make sure to brace your abdominals to keep your lower back from rotating.

Split-Stance Adductor Mobilization with Foot Swivel

Adductor mobility is an often overlooked component of hip mobility. This drill attacks the adductors while forcing the hip to both externally and internally rotate as you move your foot.

Photo: wellnesscourier.com

Kasey Esser
- Kasey Esser, CSCS, CPT, is a trainer based in Beverly Hills, Calif. He formerly worked as an assistant strength coach at the University of Evansville.
Kasey Esser
- Kasey Esser, CSCS, CPT, is a trainer based in Beverly Hills, Calif. He formerly worked as an assistant strength coach at the University of Evansville.
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