General Stretching Of The Upper Body

stretching upper body

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE ! I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

Stand with your feet a little wider than your pelvis width and you back is straight :

  • Hold your ams vertically with your hands clasped and your fingers crossed. Your palms directed upwards :

  • Inhale to inflate your lungs to the maximum and stretch your intercostal muscles. Push your palms up keeping your back and head upright.

  • Exhale slowly by relaxing and starts again.

This stretching exercise stretches intercostal, rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi, teres major, triceps. When you incline your torso laterally, you stretch more your external oblique and internal oblique, quadratus lumborum and the internal and medium part of your erectors spinae.

stretching upper body lateral

Note

This stretch is great for relaxing the body after a training with heavyweights like leg press, squat, deadlift because the ribcage and spine have been compressed.

This movement may occasionally replace or supplement the stretching at the bar  to rebalance the pressure and tensions of the intervertebral joints.

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-Steph

Good Position For Abs

Action on lumbar curvature of the psoas muscle

Psoas muscles have other functions than to be powerful flexors of hip. They put the lumbar spine in lordosis, which increases the arch.

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

Abs exercises (especially for rectus abdominis) must work with the round back (round your spine). It’s the opposite of other exercises.

For vertebral coil exercises, the mechanicals stresses on vertebral joints aren’t the same as for exercises such as squat, deadlift and other exercises with weight. For example, for squat, the spine isn’t arched at the lumbar level. The vertical pressure with the spine’s rounding pushes the nucleus pulposus intervertebral disc backwards, which can compress nerve elements and create sciatic herniated disc.

For abs exercises, it’s the opposite. If during the abs execution you forget to round your back with an intense contraction of abs and obliques, the powerful flexors of hips (psoas major) will increase the lumbar arch. This will move the intervertebral discs forward as they aren’t stabilized by the vertical pressure. Then an excess of pressure at the back of the lumbar vertebral joints can create lumbago or more serious, joints damage by compression and shear.

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-Steph

Hamstring Stretching

hamstring stretching

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

Standing in support on one leg with your knee slightly bend. Your other leg stretched with your forefoot in flexion :

  • Your hands on your thighs with your back slightly arched. Slowly tilt your torso forward and focus on the feeling of stretching to the back of your thigh. The tilting is done at the level of the pelvis.

  • Hold this position for about 20 seconds and return slowly to the starting position.

This exercise stretches all the hamstrings muscle , adductor magnus, gastrocnemius, soleus and a little bit gluteus maximus.

Variant

hamstring stretching bench

Standing in support on one leg. Your other leg stretched out on a bench :

  • Your hands on your thighs with your back slightly arched. Slowly tilt your torso forward and focus on the feeling of stretching to the back of your thigh. The tilting is done at the level of the pelvis.

  • Hold this position for about 20 seconds and return slowly to the starting position.

To have a better feeling of streching, it’s possible to relax the calf’s muscle of the leg on the bench with the foot in extension.

Attention

In bodybuiding/fitness, stretching movements have the function of equalizing the tensions of the muscles fibers inside the muscle and limiting the risk of injury.

By using heavyweight, if the muscle fiber tension inside a muscle isn’t homogeneous, it’s the most tense fibers that will tear.

It’s for this reason that it’s advisable to do stretching exercise specific to the muscular group worked at the beginning of the session and between the warm-up sets.

Stretching exercises are always done gently and moderately to preserve the joints and avoid excessive ligamentous stretching which could destabilize the joints and create inflammatory pathologies.

Note

To avoid squat and deadlift injuries, it’s necessary to do stretching exercises at the beginning of the session and between warm-up sets.

hamstring stretching

During tilting of the pelvis forward (anteversion), the hamstrings are stretched.

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-Steph

Tear Of Hamstring Muscle

hamstring muscle anatomy tear

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

In bodybuilding, tears of hamstring muscles are common. This often happens during squat when the torso is too much inclined. All hamstrings muscles (except biceps femoris short head) are extremely stretched and squeeze strongly to straighten the pelvis. Precisely at this point, there may be a muscle tear in the upper or middle part of this muscle group.

It’s possible that the tear of hamstring muscle occur with machine (leg curl). There may be a muscle tear with a heavy weight at the beggining of the movement when legs stretched and muscles stretched.

Usually, tears of the muscular fibers of hamstrings are small and not serious (it’s rare to see a major muscle tear or tendon disinsertion) but these tears are always painful and causes complications.

Indeed, often after a tear on this muscle group, there is a fibrous scar that causes a painful and disabling rubbing for sport practices. And it’s important to note that this scar isn’t elastic and can tear again during an intense effort.

Tip to avoid hamstring tears

To avoid theses muscle tears during squat or deadlift, it’s important to make specific stretching movements for hamstrings, before or between sets.

There are also other exercise like « Good-morning », stiff-legged deadlift or Romanian deadlift which helps because of their combined actions of muscle building and stretching.

After a tear of hamstrings

To avoid having a fibrous scar, it’s necessary to do a re-education a week after the tear. It’s important to do stretching exercises for the back of the thigh slowly. This allows you to stretch the injured muscles and to soften the scar so that it doesn’t tear when you start again the training.

feedback of hamstrings muscles

hamstring muscle anatomy tear pelvis

In modern societies, we sit for several hours. This can create in some people a feedback of hamstrings muscles. This muscles retraction of the back of the thigh puts the pelvis in retroversion and this creates a bad position of the spine.

This poor position of the spine causes the natural curvature of the spine to be lost over time. This results in poor posture, flat buttocks and round back that can trigger spinal pathologies.

To limit this feedback of hamstrings muscles, it’s recommended to do exercises that have a combined action of muscle strengthening and stretching at the back of the thigh as the « Good-morning », stiff-legged deadllift and Romanian deadlift. Then after this exercise session, it’s advisable to do some sets of stretching for hamstrings.

Action of hamstrings at squat

hamstring muscle anatomy tear squat

During squat, hamstring muscles squeeze to straighten the pelvis. This prevents the torso (in this phase the torso is bound to the pelvis by the contraction of the abs and lumbar) from bending too much forward.

hamstring muscle anatomy tear

Note

Fibrous scars can also be treated in parallel by a physiotherapist with manual or mechanical massages to soften the lesion.

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-Steph

How To Do Sumo Deadlift

sumo deadlift

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

Standing with the barbell on the floor in front of you. Your legs spread with your feet outside (always in your knees axis) :

  • Bent your legs to have your thighs in horizontal. Your arms are straight, you take the barbell with a pronated grip. Your hands on the barbell are to your shoulders’ width. You have the possibility to have one hand with a supinated grip and the other with a pronated grip to prevent the barbell from rolling. And with this technique, you can lift an extremely heavy weight.

  • Inhale and block your breath. Arch slightly your back, squeeze your abs and you stretch your legs by straightening your torso to have a vertical position with your shoulder drawn back. Exhale at the end of the movement.

  • Put back the barbell on the floor by blocking your breath.

It’s important to keep your back straight during all the movement to avoid injury.

This exercise works especially quadriceps muscles and adductor muscles.

This exercise works less the back’s muscles than the classic deadlift because the back is less bent at the starting position.

Note

It’s important to lift the barbell in front of your shins at the beginning of the movement.

Do this exercise with light weights and high sets (maximum 10 sets) to strengthen the lumbar’s region by working thighs and gluteus.

If you do this exercise with heavy weight, you need to be careful to not trauma hips joints, adductors muscles, and lumbosacral junction.

The sumo deadlift is one of the 3 powerlifting’s movements.

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-Steph

Spinal Disc Herniation

disc herniation

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

First we can say : « disc herniation » or « herniated disc » but I prefer use « disc herniation » in my article.

Disc herniation is a common pathology in bodybuilding. This often occurs because of poor back placement during exercises such as squat, deadlift and rows (barbell bent row, seated row, etc).

During the execution of theses exercises, the main defect observed is the rounding of the back or a flexion of the spine. Because of that discs are pinched forward and loosened backward.

disc herniation

If an intervertebral disc cracked or aged, the gelatinous fluid of the nucleus pulposus moves backwards and can compress the spinal cord or roots of the spinal nerves. The symptoms of a disc herniation depends on the nature of the lesion, the amount of nucleus displaced and the surface that nucleus compresses.

The disc may have a bump or even worse, the nucleus may explode through the surrounding annulus fibrosus. It’s also possible that the posterior ligament that joins the vertebrae to each other is broken. The compressions caused by the rupture of the annulus fibrosus are always painful and incapacitating.

In bodybuilding, disc herniation are mainly at the lumbar level. Often between the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae or between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae. The pain is dull and deep and sometimes with numbness and tingling. Often the pain is in the middle of the back or on one side. The pain extends onto the glutes, pelvis and pubis. Sometimes pain can be felt throughout the leg following the path of the sciatic nerve because the sciatic nerve is compressed at the root (hence the name of sciatic to define this type of pain).

disc herniation sciatic nerve

Usually disc herniation resolve spontaneously and the pain gradually disappears. But in some cases the bump on a vertebral disc doesn’t disappear and can continue to painfully pres on the nerves or it’s a loose piece of intervertebral cartilage that compresses the nervous elements.

In these 2 cases, the doctor will think of doing a surgical operation to remove the part that compresses the nerves.

To avoid having a disc herniation, it’s essential to do squat, deadlift, « good morning » and rows (rows, barbell bent row, seated row) with excellent positioning technique.

Attention

For all exercises done with very heavy weight, it’s necessary to perform a « blocking » :

  1. Take a deep breath and block the breathing to fill the lungs like a balloon. This stiffens the ribcage and prevents the top of the torso form tilting forward.

  2. Squeeze abs stiffens the belly, This increases the intra-abdominal pressure and prevents the torso from sagging forward.

  3. By slightly arching the lower back with lumbar squeeze, this allows to have the spine’s bottom in extension.

These 3 simultaneous actions is what we call « blocking ». This « blocking » has the function of avoiding the rounding or bending of the spine because with very heavy weights, it can create disc herniations .

Note

After a training session with very heavy weights, it’s advisable to do stretching for the spine. There is an excellent exercise to relax the back muscles and rebalance the pressure inside the intervertebral discs. Click here .

Bad position

disc herniation bad positon squat deadlift

For exercises such as deadlift or squat, it’s important not to round your back to avoid lower back injuries.

Disc herniation

disc herniation

Flexion of the spine with heavy weights can create disc herniations at the level of the lumbar vertebrae.

These disc herniations are common at squat and deadlift. This is caused by a bad back position during exercise. That’s why it’s important to work the technique for these exercises.

Disc herniation according to the age

disc herniation intervertebral

From the age of 30 years old, intervertebral discs degenerate and don’t worry, it’s normal, The annulus can crack and the nucleus pulposus dries progressively.

Vertebral discs of people over 30 years old are more rigid, less elastic and the mobility of the spine is more limited. But as the viscous gel of the nucleus pulposus deacreases due to drying, the risk of the vertebral discs moving and compressing the nerves diminished.

Vertebral discs of people under 30 years old are more flexible, more elastic and there is more mobility with the spine. There is a greater amount of viscous gel in the nucleus pulposus which increases the risk that vertebral discs will move and compress the nerves. Disc herniation is very common among young athletes.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you

-Steph