What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.COM. Bulging discs, herniated discs, ruptured discs, bad backs, blown-out backs, you’ve heard all the terms before, but what does it actually mean?
Today I want to show you guys exactly what it means right here on our skeleton. And more importantly tell you how you can make sure in your own training that you’re doing the right things, or avoiding the wrong things, to try to give yourself the best shot of never having this happen to you. Now right off the bat I think it’s very important to clarify, bulging discs and herniated discs can happen to anybody at any time.
You don’t have to be in the gym to have this happen. So, that means that any exercise can cause one of these situations to happen. And it can happen quickly. But there are a few things that will lead ourselves to this situation much more frequently, and those are the things I want to help fortify you guys against with this video. So, first of all, let’s take a little bit of a closer look inside to see exactly what’s going on so you can understand that. And then we’ll come back out of it and talk about some of the situations that you might want to make sure you’re extra careful of when you are training. Alright, so let’s go hand-held here so I can show you exactly what’s going on. What you’ll see here is the spine, ok. We have series of vertebrae here that stack on top of each other, as you guys probably know. And they’re broken down into the different levels of the spine that we hear so often, right. Cervical spine from here down through the neck. And then we have our thoracic spine that comes down through our midback. And then we have
Our 5 lumbar vertebrae that make up our lower back, ok. Now, coming back around to the front. When we talk about the discs, you can see these brown structures right here in between provide spacing and padding between our vertebrae when they’re healthy and natural, ok, in a natural state. But what happens is, when we have a herniation, you can look down here, you actually get a leakage of the material that’s inside the disc. It’s called the nucleus pulposus, right, as this thing comes out and squishes out, it
Literally is like a jelly donut effect. This would be a nice, intact jelly donut. If you were to squeeze it, then it would bleed out this inner-disc material that then, as you can see, pushes and hits one of these nerve roots that then travels down to the, you know, throughout the body, right, down to our lower extremities.
We have different dermatomes that these different nerve roots run to. So, when we train, if we were to have some sort of an injury and i’ll cover again what some of these activities might be that could cause this a little bit more often than others, once you get the leakage, if it’s not touching on a nerve root, that’s when you have basically a bulging disc, or a herniated disc that may not, again, be symptomatic because it may not be touching on the nerve root. But as soon as this material right here contacts the nerve root, you’re going to get symptoms down that dermatome, wherever that might go. And that’s what would explain for some people that wind up complaining of hip pain or knee pain or thigh pain, or even numbness or tingling down in the toes because it depends again on what level and what nerve root this is pushing on. Alright, so back in the real world here, what we really care about as guys lifting are we
Want to know, what are the activities that might lead to this situation more often than others.
And again, there’s any exercise at any time that can cause this, but the issue is we want to make sure that we fortify ourselves, as I said, as much as we can. The first thing, guys, core strength. We need to know that we have the appropriate core strength. And it’s not just your abs. Guys, please, you guys know that abs alone are not your core. Your abs are just one portion of your core. Your hips, your lateral trunk flexors, and stabilizers are going to be incredibly important to contributing to your overall stability.
So, Side Planks and other exercises that incorporate more than just your crunching activities of
Your abdominal muscles is going to be key to fortifying that core to make sure you have the stability of your entire trunk. But that being said, the biggest culprit for creating one of these herniation in your low back is going to be a combination of flexion and rotation in the lumbar spine at the same time, and more so, loaded flexion and extension. So what exercise would that naturally be? That could be a Dead Lift. Now, Dead Lifts are probably one of the best exercises you could possibly do. Especially as a trainer to athletes, we know the value of a Dead Lift. The functional value of a Dead Lift is unparalleled.
But one of the other areas i’ve covered on the squats before is the positioning of the hips. So when I take this dowel in front of me, if you’re Dead Lifting, you have to be very, very careful that not just your feet are square on the ground, but that your hips are square as well. So if your feet are lined up straight ahead here, but my hips are open to here, you can see that. Now, if I go to do my Dead Lift now in that position, I’m essentially rotated here to the left. So even though it’s a subtle thing, we are combining flexion with rotation. That would be something you definitely want to be aware of and alert for to make sure
That that’s not happening to you. Next we want to talk about the squat, and yet again another great exercise obviously for building lower body strength and power. But it is another one that can leave us susceptible to a lower back issue especially if we already have a predisposing thing going on in our low back. That’s because you get that tendency to get a rapid flexion/extension if you have a Butt
Wink. We’ve covered why we think that might happen in other videos. But the Butt Wink is going to be a rapid change in pelvic position from that anterior tilt to the posterior tilt and then back in the anterior.
And that’s under load, like under load of the back squat, the weight that you got on your back. That anterior position is fine. It’s when you get to that posterior position and getting a rapid flexion of your lumbar spine and again, we talked about, it’s one of the components, minus the rotation that can cause an issue. The same thing I just covered with the Dead Lift, and the hips are open and not square,
You’re going to get a rotary effect of the pelvis too. So, the Butt Wink with unsquare hips is going to cause even twice the issues that we might have otherwise. Now, what can we do to try to make sure that that doesn’t happen to us? Well, first of all, we can work on that Butt Wink. And secondly, what we can do is, we can work on other versions of squats. I’m a big proponent of single leg squats. Why? Because they allow us to continue to load up the weight, not have to necessarily sacrifice our overall strength in our legs
Which is one of the things that winds up happening when guys want to drop down the weights on
A Back Squat to be able to execute in perfect form if the Butt Wink is their limiting factor. They might be dropping the weights to levels that are below that which would challenge your legs and actually help them to continue to overload. But if you do a single leg version, you might be able to still tap into your strength and max out on your strength while at the same time protecting the low back because, and I don’t necessarily mean single leg, I’m talking more about Bulgarian variations. So, you put your leg up behind you. As soon as you put your leg behind you, you’re actually flattening the low back. You’re creating a much flatter, much more stable lumbar spine so when you go down in the flexion, that lumbar spine stays where it needs to be. And it stays well-supported while again at the same time not sacrificing the overall
Strength of your legs and quads while you’re training your legs. So, guys, again, anything can cause a low back issue. Anything can cause a disc to herniate or bulge in it’s earlier stages. The thing is, you want to make sure that you’re doing the things that you can to prevent that from happening by training the right way. At ATHLEANX, as a physical therapist, I put together a strength/conditioning program that
Does this. It allows you guys train, and to train hard and to train at your max. But at the same time, have a healthy respect for how we’re going to get there and make sure that we do it in a smart way so that we’re eliminating the things that can happen to you and injure you, and keep you in the gym. Because the only way you’re ever going to get strong, the only way you’re going to see progressive results is if you stay in that gym and continue to train day in and day out. Right. So, that’s what we do. That’s over at ATHLEANX.COM. It’s our complete 90-Day Training Program. In the meantime, if you found this video helpful, and you see, we bring out the skeleton every time we do, you guys tend to like these videos, just let me know and i’ll keep making more. And whatever other issues are bothering you, i’ll try to break him out to explain why it is that that might be happening to make it a little bit more useful for you. Thanks guys.