Article written by Jay Stadtfeld for LiftBigEatBig.com
As a site dedicated to making you big and strong, it should be obvious we here at Lift Big Eat Big like to move heavy objects – either for time, distance, or maybe just to pick it up and simply put it right back down. Training for your respective sport requires a lot of due diligence in the gym, the kitchen, and everywhere else you go. It should be obvious that in order to move heavy weight, you have to have strength in every part of your body. One of these parts happens to often be called your “core” by commercial gym goers. In an effort to put the kibosh on that term, I'm going to focus on a particular part of that region today: your erector spinae. More commonly known as your “spinal erectors”.
The spinal erectors are made up of a group of muscles stemming from multiple insertion points in the body, and are mostly used for extension of the spine when standing or bending (think deadlift or squat). Without these muscles being developed, it's common to see someone arch like Quasimodo when pulling or squatting a substantial weight, which greatly increases the risk of injury.
The issue of not extending the spine properly during an exercise is prevalent in many new clients I've taken on over the years. This could be due to lack of exercise, working a 9-5 desk job, and not staying up on doing mobility. Perhaps even a clever combination of all three. The easiest way that I've seen to amend this issue is by doing exercises that increase work in their posterior chains, such as Romanian deadlifts, back extensions, and of course overhead pressing, squatting, and deadlifting.
All the movements above are actions of the spinal erectors.
As seen above, the musculature supporting the spine has a wide array of functions in terms of movement for the body. Figure 5 is largely what we aim to prevent in trainees movements through a combination of posterior chain movements. However, it can also be seen in many lifters whose bar path “gets away” from them, and in turn flexion of the lumbar region occurs. This position is particularly injurious to the trainee, and should be corrected almost immediately through cues, or perhaps just to simply drop the bar because at this point the lift is almost unsalvageable.
In closing, be certain to train the posterior chain and get it strong. RDL's, good mornings, glute ham raises, back extensions, and stay up on mobility After all, the spine is what permits you to do what you do best – pick up heavy shit and put it back down.
"ErectorSpinae." Erector Spinae. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2012. <http://www.exrx.net/Muscles/ErectorSpinae.html>.