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Protecting The Back

“There is a balance to be considered between speed, technique and form, and in everyday life.”

Lifting

We all lift things, small things, big things, living things, heavy things and light things.  All of these come in different shapes and sizes, and they are often part of our everyday lives, either working or at home.

I would suggest the only time any conscious thought is applied to the process of lifting would be in a gym, perhaps at work if you are in an environment where there is a keen and constant eye to health and safety; particularly yours.  Otherwise, most of our time, heaving things around will be done automatically, without much thought or attention.

Whole-body

Lifting is generally a global movement, meaning we use most of our muscles and joints to assist in moving something from A to B.  There are two types of global patterns to lift something from the floor, a squat and a hip hinge, and small children do them automatically when they assess the weight of an object.

As we grow up and our bodies generally become stronger, we start to use a little artistic licence when we lift things.  It is not uncommon, therefore, for the bending to come from the lower or upper back, and may include twisting and moving at the same time; this approach may seem efficient for speed, and the body will adapt accordingly.

The thing is…

There is a balance to be considered between speed, technique and form, and in everyday life, it is likely only the first is important until lack of technique and form create a twang in the body. And it won’t be the particular movement on the day the muscle or joint went twang; it is the cumulative effect of adaptations our body has made to the environments in which we live and work. 

There may have been many warning signs, a little ache or pain and not necessarily in the location of the new area.  Painkillers will have numbed those, and away we go again not giving it a second thought.

Typically, and in my experience, the twang will come doing the most seemingly innocuous thing, maybe even a sneeze.

And now the brain part

Once we have had the twang, our brain will immediately start mapping a new movement pattern to protect the injured part.  It is an incredible feat and one that we are wholly unaware of happening.  It will continue to do this until we are recovered and begin telling the brain that the injury has gone, and we can create a new pattern, and we have to encourage it to start to use the part that was injured so the strength can return.

Technique and form

While the adaptations are useful in the short term, they may cause imbalances and asymmetries elsewhere in both the original need for speed and the recovery.

It is possible to have speed with technique and form, and it is about training the body to switch on muscles reflexively to protect and stabilise the back; creating coaching conditions where bracing happens automatically.

As such, the learning and creation of new pathways are what creates resilience, and we bounce back to an improved state.

If you would like to know what your state is right now, a movement screen can show where some subtle tweaks could make a massive difference.

Take care,

Andrew