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    • 01 FEB 15
    • 0

    Banish back pain – bombproof your core

    The world has a problem. After walking around the planet for four million years, humans stopped moving. 80% of the developed world’s population is in sedentary jobs, sitting more than nine hours a day. Throw in commute, TV, Facebook and socialising time, and some researchers estimate 15 hours a day sitting is now common.

    WHAT’S THE BIG PROBLEM?

    Ever notice that there are very few straight lines in nature? Unlike straight lines, curves are strong and can absorb force and shock readily. Sitting destroys the lordosis curve in the lower back and spine, which is designed to protect and support the nerves travelling into the lower part of your body. It has been shown that sitting for more than seven minutes essentially switches off the core muscles used to stabilise and protect your lower back.

    For the super geeks among us, the research says ‘the lumbar spine which has undergone “creep” due to prolonged lumbar flexion in sitting will create a statisitcally significant “delay” in the flexor/relaxation phenonenon’. The body follows a very straightforward principle: use it or lose it. Seven minutes sitting and you start losing it.

    BACK TO BASICS

    So what actually is the core?

    There are varying definitions, but I consider the core as every muscle and connecting tissue from the base of the skull down to the arches of our feet that are classed as stabilising – i.e. not the mirror muscles! Think of them as the silent pillars of strength. Your visible muscles need these silent stablizers to be active well before they fire.

    Every movement is connected.

    WALK THE PLANK

    Incessant sit-ups and crunches of the 90s gave way to the ‘plank’ or prone hold, which became the mainstay of ‘ab exercises’. But this isometric movement is just one of a whole host of tools for building the core, and the first you would be introduced to on your Prohab journey. Being able to hold a plank for 7 minutes does not mean you have a bulletproof core. It just means you are good at holding a plank (or perhaps not even that, depending how your form looks by the end!).

    So why is the plank alone not enough? Well for starters, you’re only working in one plane of movement – there are two others that need your attention. And sure, it builds stability (in that plane only) – but mobility, connection and symmetry are all important factors too.

    Try out this hard-rolling exercise to check if you’re lopsided:

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