Strengthening the Posterior Chain
Cross Country Skiing is a full body workout but we still need to keep our body strength in balance. I was dealing with back pain as most people do at some point or points in their lives and in the recovery process; I was led to “Foundation Training” by Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park. Wow what an insight., their moto is “from pain to performance.” Foundation training redefines the core, shifting the focus from abs and the front of the body to the back and the posterior chain. Muscle groups work in a balanced way. When one group fires, the other relaxes. If you bend forward, your back muscles length and your abs contract. If you lean back from the waist or move your torso from side to side, your hip and abdominal muscles have to contract. All the muscles of the lower spine are constantly firing to maintain proper alignment of the vertebrae. The contraction of the ab muscles puts them under additional stress. When those muscles become fatigued or subject to excess pressure, the result is back pain. Foundation training shifts the emphasis to the back and the posterior chain, the deep supporting muscles that affect every movement you make. The butt, hip, hamstring, back and spine muscles are meant to generate more force than any other part of your body. Dr. Eric Goodman believes that for every exercise you do for the front of your body, you should do at least four for the back.
Here are some facts and tips about your back and movement patterns:
- Most people have some degeneration in their spine, but not all people are symptomatic.
- Symptoms like spasm and pain become obvious when the area becomes inflamed due to am improper movement rather than due to the degeneration that has possibly been there for some time.
- Forward flexion and flexibility should come from your hips (a hinge joint) not from your spine.
- When you flex forward from your spine all of the spinal structures, joints, ligaments and muscles are stressed; your back becomes weak and overstretched and your hamstrings become tight in response.
- Once you strengthen your back muscles, your spine can relax and your hamstrings are able to be long and happy again.
One simple tip that will help encourage proper movement patterns is to lengthen the space between the top of your pelvis and your sternum. Place your little fingers at the top of your pelvis and your thumbs on your lower ribs. Breath in and lengthen this space, when your exhale keep the length that you had gained. This will simply remind you to stand tall, engage the muscles in your back, and maintain the proper curves in your spine. You can do this while you are in your office chair or throughout the day to test your body position.
People you may know using foundation training…
Garmin – Sharp Pro Cycling Team “foundation training helps to efficiently produce more power”
Catherine Pendrel – LUNA Pro Mountain Bike Team World Champion, numerous World Cup victories and avid Nordic skier with 2 gold medals at the Masters XC SKI World Cup.
For more information on foundation training visit:
Have a great ski season!