If you are a sports enthusiast, a healthy back is a big plus. A common place for injury is the lumbar spine or low back. Building stability in the lumbar spine improves sports performance and keeps you from getting injured.
All backs, regardless of medical diagnosis or level of fitness, benefit from improved spine stability. The following comments regarding spine stability are largely excerpted from Stuart McGill, PhD (Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance, 2006).
The muscles of the back are designed to work in a coordinated fashion. Preferentially training a single muscle, even if possible, may compromise overall stability. Muscles that primarily function to stabilize individual vertebrae during movement (such as the multifidus) must be equally trained with muscles that stabilize the back more globally (like the “lats”).
Large muscles further away from the spine create more stability than small muscles close to the spine. However, small muscles close to the spine, such as the multifidus, provide proprioceptive feedback, a key component of neuromuscular control. Neuromuscular control is the ability to groove proper movement patterns to enhance stability and prevent injury. The brain needs to be able to “feel” the body in space through proprioceptive feedback and make appropriate corrections through neuromuscular motor control.
Stiffness is always stabilizing; force may not be stabilizing. Force and stiffness must be balanced around the spine in order to protect it. Endurance and motor control are needed to enhance stability-rarely is strength needed. Ensuring sufficient stability usually needs only modest levels of muscle activation.
The geometry of the spine resembles guy wires. Stability depends on the base of support and the angle of the pull. The guy wire system is designed to work with the spine in neutral. “Hollowing” the abdominal wall will cause the spine to buckle at lower loads. On the other hand, “abdominal bracing” protects the spine. This occurs when all three layers of the abdominal musculature are activated at the same time creating “superstiffness”.
Instances of instability are likely to occur at either very high loading when a minor motor error compromises stability or at very low loading when only a few muscles are assisting with spinal stability. Learn to keep the spine in neutral and avoid aberrant movement patterns to keep your back healthy and happy.
SDK Pilates is wonderful! I have been taking classes from Stephanie for a number of years and thoroughly enjoy both her Pilates and therapeutic yoga sessions. Her training as a doctor enables her to work around physical limitations and injuries and strengthen weaknesses. She has helped me immensely with chronic shoulder issues. The fun nature of the classes, the camaraderie of the attendees and the great workout make SDK classes my favorite way to exercise!
I have been a client of Stephanie’s for several years. What I think makes her stand out from other studios is that she was a doctor & understands each individual clients bodies. The new studio is airy spacious & calming
SDK Pilates is great! So far I’ve taken Pilates classes with Steph and Nancy, and I’m looking forward to Yoga with Mark. Currently working on core strengthening, shoulder mechanics, overall conditioning, and my golf game.
“Sandi and Elaine have the ability to deliver a class that meets the needs of all attendees in the class, even when there is different levels of experience.They have a great manner of presenting poses and ensure good form for a safe and enjoyable Yoga class.”
I have taken yoga and Pilates classes from Stephanie for many years, and I can say that she is terrific. Her background in physical medicine and rehab makes her uniquely qualified to instruct and coach with a focus in balanced strengthening, proper alignment, and prevention of injury. I enjoy the low key environment at the studio, and have made many friends in her classes.
Stephanie’s class is well-paced, challenging yet welcoming for first timers and those who are more experienced. She offers seamless coaching throughout and her enthusiasm and energy is inspirational.
“SDK Pilates’ yoga instructors are beyond wonderful and very reliable. Our community and hospital staff truly enjoy the classes and we are extremely thankful for their partnership with us.”
My experience with SDK Pilates has been outstanding. All of the instructors have been knowledgeable and welcoming. All levels of fitness and capabilities are embraced, addressed and challenged. Individual needs are seamlessly met with in the class. Every class is different and I always walk out feeling better than when I walked in. I take Pilates twice a week and wish I could take it every day!
“Sandi and Elaine have the ability to deliver a class that meets the needs of all attendees in the class, even when there is different levels of experience. They have a great manner of presenting poses and ensure good form for a safe and enjoyable Yoga class.”
Pilates has been a wonderful experience both physically and mentally – it relieves stress and gets your body in a “can do” spirit to stretch and feel good. The instructors are the best and the people I’ve met in class are fun to be with. Friendships develop. I will do this forever!