Positioning of the Spine

Positioning of the Spine

Although the entire body needs to be properly positioned during resistance training (bodybuilding), the axial skeleton and its immediate attachments are of greatest concern and require particular attention. Correctly positioning and stabilizing the spine, neck and pelvis during resistance-training exercises are especially important. To better understand how these areas should be positioned during exercise, you should first be aware of how they are positioned when held or stabilized at rest. Not everyone has the same degree of spinal curvature, and some may have spinal abnormalities .If you or someone you are training has any of these abnormalities or any type of back problems, be sure a doctor is consulted before beginning any workout program.

Some people advocate flattening the back during most any exercise in which a bench, pad, or some sort of outside support is present. The theory behind this concept is to reduce the stress on the spine, intervertebral disks, and lower-back area by bracing them against a support. Flattening the back actually requires most people to tilt the pelvis posteriorly. The spine is in its strongest position and the disks are under the least amount of compression when the spine, neck, and pelvis are all in a neutral position with the normal arches and curvatures intact. With this in mind, we prefer to do most of the exercise by keeping the lumbar spine and the cervical spine in a neutral position. The only change is a slight degree of extension or straightening through the thoracic region. To do this, we simply pull the shoulder blades together and lift the chest slightly up and out while maintaining the natural arch in the lumbar and cervical regions of the spine. An example of this would be soldiers standing at attention with their shoulders back and their chests out. This spinal positioning is called a ready position.

Positioning the spine in this manner supports weight more efficiently and still allows for the least amount of intervertebral disk compression in the cervical and lumbar regions. Instead of bracing the lower back by flattening it, you should maintain the natural arch in the lumbar spine. Maintaining this position will require stabilization from the muscles throughout the back, particularly those of the lower region. this is an added benefit. These muscles will be working to stabilize what is a natural and desirable spinal position while the targeted muscles are working against the resistance. Muscles of the trunk and lower back are typically weak links in most individuals. Using this positioning will help to strengthen and stabilize these weak links rather than pacifying them. Isn't strengthening weak muscles one of the reasons we do resistance training (bodybuilding) in the first place?

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