6 Exercises for a Balanced Body

When sitting, your thoracic spine is in a locked position and its true function (extension, flexion and rotation) is turned off. This can lead to poor posture mechanics which can send a chained signal to the rest of the body to compensate. Compensation is what leads to injury. When one part of the body is turned off or not functional, another area will try to pick up the load and this will lead to an injury.

This exercise is done on all fours. Your body must remain straight and in good position. Put one hand on top of your head, rotate down and touch your opposite shoulder and then rotate up as far as you can. Try and look up to the ceiling when rotating up. You will feel the stretch between your shoulder blades. Start off by performing eight on each side and build to 15 per side.

Thoratic Rotation Thoratic-Rotation2

Bonus: Here are three exercises triathletes (or any athlete for that matter) should never do again.

Crunches

The movement of crunching puts the spine into flexion. The spine does not want this load. The function of the spine is meant to remain stable. Repetitive movement at the lower spine will cause pain or even worse a blown disc. Read any research from Dr. Stuart Mcgill, a low back specialist, and you will see why spinal flexion, extension and rotation are a recipe for a blown low back disc. Want a healthy and strong back? Build stability and stiffness and stay away from crunching.

Leg Curl Machine

This machine is a very non-functional "strength training" exercise. First of all it is a machine. Machines do not build function. Your movement is constricted on an exercise machine. Secondly, this exercise will work the hamstrings without engaging the hips and the glutes. When you do that it will lead to over-dominant hamstrings, thus leading to imbalanced glutes and hips, which can lead to injury. These two muscle groups need to work together. Try the stability ball leg curl instead. This will allow your hips to work with your hamstrings and this will create balance and a strong posterior lower body.

Low Back Hyperextension

Have you ever done the Superman exercise? Just like crunching this is another recipe for low back pain. The low spine is meant to remain stable, and when you put unwanted load on the spine it will cause serious back issues. It might not happen the first, third or fiftieth time you perform this exercise but every time you perform spinal flexion, extension or rotation you are setting yourself up for disaster. Stay away from this exercise.

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Resources:
Mike Boyle, A Joint by Joint Approach, www.strengthcoach.com
Mark Verstegen, Core Performance, www.coreperformance.com
Dewey Nielsen, Impact Performance Training, www.impact-pt.com

About the Author

Justin Levine is a fitness specialist and triathlon coach in Visalia, California. He is the owner of California Fitness Academy and president of The Visalia Triathlon Club. His philosophy is to enhance an individual's functional movement, posture and dynamic flexibility to maximize triathlon performance. You can email Justin at justinlevine03@hotmail.com or read his e-book, The Complete Triathlete, at justintrain.com.

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