Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New "Pre-hab" exercise

Hi everyone,

Today I wanted to share a new exercise (well at least new to me) with you that you may want to add to the exercise routine. The exercise is called the "superdog" as coined by strength coach Nick Tumminello. The exercise is to be used a prehab exercise perhaps before serious resistance training would be a god time to really get your gluteal musculature warmed up and to make sure the muscles are "firing'. However I could see using the superdog a the end of an exercise session as well as a finisher type movement to really tax the gluteals after to wrap up a solid workout.

Below is a video of the superdog being presented by Coach Tumminelo

The exercise is a twist on two commonly used core exercises, the superman and the birddog. I'll post videos to those video as well. The superman and the birddog are often performed while the athlete is in a state of exaggerated lumbar lordosis or anterior pelvic tilt.

The anterior rotation of the pelvis and accompanying lumbar lordosis actually renders certain exercises which are meant to alleviate structural imbalances pretty much worthless as is the case when superman's and birddogs are performed incorrectly. The purpose of said exercises is strengthen the core musculature as a whole (1). For a review of the EMG activity witnessed and current thoughts on many of the core exercises being used see this review of the literature by a team of researchers from Spain (2). However when performed in exaggerated lordosis, these types of exercises lengthen trunk flexor muscles while leaving the posterior extensor muscles at appropriate lengths for near optimal force production, thus rendering the movement advantageous for the posterior muscles which further encourage the problematic exaggerated lordosis we are discussing.
Good core exercises are meant to tax several muscles of the core region resulting in a synergistic effect optimizing stability. 

For a further explanation of exaggerated lordosis check out this link to exrx which does a nice job of explaining how this posture is injurious to the lower back.  When performed in exaggerated lordosis, lifts such as the shoulder press, squat, etc. induce higher loads on passive tissues in the spine (i.e. ligaments) when the spine deviates from a neutral posture Findings from a study by Shirazi-Adl (3) that tissue loading is markedly affected by the postural changes and accompanying load distributions varying up to 60% based on the posture adopted. I like that study because real world loads of up to 2800 Newtons (roughly 270 kg) were used. 
As an athlete or weekend warrior you don't want heavy loads on the spine to be exaggerated by adopting faulty postural patterns while exercising

To wrap things up, I agree with Coach Tumminello in that the superdog forces the back into a neutral position forcing the gluteal muscles to do the work not the back extensor muscles. I'll post a couple of videos to the superman and birddog. If you are going to perform these movements, do so in neutral spinal alignment  to ensure you are working all of the core muscles rather than explicitly targeting the spinal extensors which may already be overly-dominant. In closing lumbar stability + thoracic mobility + hip mobility = safer more efficient movement patterns.

The birddog
The superman

1 comment: