If you imagine yourself as a skeleton, you should be able to see the general structure of bones that makes up your shape. I’d hope, at least, that you’ve seen enough Halloween decorations to get the gist. Take a quick scan of your structure, and you’ll notice that your trunk, or the space between your shoulders and your hips has a vulnerable spot. It’s between the bottom rib and the hips.
This area is central to the large mass of the human trunk, but is only structurally supported by just a few vertebrae. This is the lumbar spine.
It’s no coincidence that low back pain is a nearly ubiquitous chronic issue for humans because of this very fact. A great deal of stress is focused on the trunk because it’s from where movement emanates and, like they say, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. If the structure of the trunk were a chain, with the spine being mostly supported by the beautiful safety of the rib cage, the lumbar spine is the weak link. This is why it is often the first to break, so to speak.
Keep in mind that the chronic pain and nagging issues many of us face is not par for the course. We can and should be pain free people. We just need a mechanism to protect this area, which is where bracing comes in.
If you stop imagining yourself as a skeleton and start thinking of your body as it actually is, you’ll notice that your upper body isn’t balancing on the little twig of your spine anymore and that this space between your bottom rib and your hips is filled with tissue. This tissue is either functionally supporting your lumbar spine or it’s not. For most people with pain, it’s simply not.
Proper bracing isn’t just about being strong in your trunk, either. It’s about bracing correctly. In fact, bracing correctly is how to get strong in your trunk. This bracing is called intra-abdominal pressure and it’s the body’s way of coordinating the diaphragm, the abdominal muscles, and the pelvic floor to create three hundred and sixty degrees of outward pressure to turn this “weak link” into a solid structure. Effective intra-abdominal pressure turns this area with little bone structure of support into a shaken up can of Coca Cola so that it can transfer power and support loads just like the bony framework of the upper chest.
Want more info on how to create intra-abdominal pressure? Check out our friends at B!RTHF!T for more info.
Complete the following for time:
1 Mile Run
30 Pull Ups
60 Push Ups
Then, with a 10 minute running clock:
1RM Clean and Jerk