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improve back flexibility during the off-season

 

The Offseason, with Kimbia Physio. A period of time when official games, tournaments, etc., are not being played. Now is the time to start addressing the nagging injuries, addressing form, improving mechanics not addressed during the season. In my experience one of the most challenging aspects of an athletes off-season program has been integrating global movement patterns exercises.

Movements that require either the upper or lower body to stabilize while the opposite segment is in motion is difficult for most athletes. One of the reasons is, athletes find various strategies to compensate for areas of weakness, tightness or discomfort.  One of the reasons I suspect this is the case is partly due to the way athletes are being taught to train. The notion that in order to be a better runner, swimmer, cyclist is to perform those activities over-and-over again is something I continuously try to discourage. Performance is a multi-step approach.

Training and performance requires a systematic approach that addresses various aspects of performance. A good example, albeit extreme is to look at professional athletes. Sprinters don’t just sprint as much as possible and as often as possible to improve performance. In addition to sprinting, they perform carefully designed programs to address flexibility, muscle imbalances and proprioception. As a performance Physical Therapist, motor skill development and performance go hand in hand and it starts with a few ground rules.

1-Motion should be pain free. The motion should be smooth and effortless and only in the available range.

2- It is possible that one side may be “tighter” than the other. Don’t force the tighter side to move beyond the available range. Over-time, with consistency this will occur naturally

3-Once exercise is complete, perform exercise(s) that address and integrate this new range of motion. This will help improve motor skill, reducing fear avoidance movement patterns.

 

A good place to start is with improving trunk rotation.  Limited trunk rotation or pain when performing activities requiring twisting may cause your body to compensate greatly.  The result of this may impact speed, efficiency, performance and predispose you to increased risk of injuries. Athletes are particularly vulnerable to experiencing tightness to Quadratus Lumborum.  This muscle acts as a stabilizer in our lumbar spine when both sides contract and assists trunk rotation when only one side contracts. Over time this muscle may get tight or develop trigger points, affecting mobility and stability. The following exercise will train you to more effectively contract and relax the muscles of your spine. Remember the three rules from above.

Click here to see the video.

Start position of trunk rotation
Start position of trunk rotation (c) Kimbia Physio, LLC
Kimbia Physio Dr Hiza Mbwana Trunk Rotation end position
End position of trunk rotation (C) Kimbia Physio, LLC

By flexing your top hip on a long foam roller, your pelvis is stabilized as you rotate, to isolate the muscles of your back. The goal is to avoid the hip on the foam roll from moving.

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