I have spent a ton of time researching training techniques and methods that will increase performance, decrease injury rates, and increase one’s longevity performing activities that they love the most. Manual after manual, world champion coaches, and world champions themselves led me to exploring the world of traction based training; so much so that my wife and I began adding traction equipment to our facility.
Here is the gist of it, our way of life is compression based. As we walk through life, go to work, place loads on our shoulders, or even lift loads off the floor, we compress our spines. Decreasing spinal flexibility to less than optimal ranges will lead to injury.
Certain issues plague people in our society today, even me. It is on each of us to experiment and find what will produce the best desired results. In my scenario, I have overdeveloped hip flexors, anterior rotated hips, and underdeveloped low back musculature. I attribute these issues to time spent in the military, jumping out of airplanes and carrying loads over long distances. Here are three exercises I have found to be very helpful to my development and growth as an athlete and coach.
1. REVERSE HYPER. This was the first exercise I incorporated to help my back perform better during snatches, cleans, jerks, squats, and deadlifts. This is an open chain exercise that allows me to move my lower half to increase the work capacity of my low back, glutes, and hamstrings. It is very important to focus on increasing work capacity of tissues especially for individuals that have had an injury. Tissues have limits. You must stimulate these tissues to improve to stay healthy in a safe manner.
2. BELT SQUAT. How have I gone so long without using this machine? Here is a device that allows you to increase the strength of hip extension while forcing your hips into a posterior tilt. Traction of the spine begins as soon as you are standing with the belt around your waist. My back has never felt better than when I step out of a belt squat and my spine has been stretched to an optimal length.
3. 45° BACK EXTENSION. I have underused this exercise in the past. Learning from some of the best coaches and athletes in the world, I have added it back into my routine for high volume. Even at body weight, the eccentric portion stretches the spine and activates into low back. High volume promotes blood flow to the lower back tissues which will lead to healthy tissues that can handle stress.
Over 70% of our American population deals with some sort of low back pain. Utilizing the right techniques and increasing the work capacity of the posterior chain makes this type of pain PREVENTABLE.
These machines and ideas have been tested for years by the likes of Louie Simmons, Charles Poloquin, and Travis Mash to name a few. Credit deserves to be given to these coaches, as their work with athletes has helped to formulate some of our own successes.