What is it? After years of wear and tear, what is its current condition? How does it look? How does it feel? I’ve heard children complain about back pain. And I’ve seen adults in their 20’s debilitated by it. I was one of them. And so are 4 out of 5 people on earth.
If you could go beyond an MRI and actually take it out, put it on the table, and see it for what it was, what would it look like?
The spine is the most important element of your body. It’s the chain that supports the rest of your physiological system. And each of its vertebrae can either assist in supporting your body, or be the rusty link of a chain that is breaking it down.
No matter the current health of your spine, there are 3 factors that will guarantee its strength and vitality or its demise.
The first is sitting.
Think about a handful of clay for a moment. If you take a lump of clay in your hands and form it into a ball, it’s going to take that form and stay there. And then if you expose that water-based clay to heat, it’s going to harden into that form permanently. The only way to get it out of that form will be to dash it against the rocks.
Now, imagine fitting the human body, also formed from the dust of the earth, into a plastic container. Imagine that plastic container is blue and shaped at a right angle. And it has four legs.
Now imagine that chair-shaped vessel holds that body for years; not just years, but decades. That body is going to take that shape, is it not?
Your hip flexors will shorten. Your hamstrings will shorten. Your vertebrae will curve in a direction opposite its beautiful and utilitarian design. And those bones will compress, one on top of the other.
And the average person will spend over 20 YEARS, yes YEARS, of their life in this position.
For one quarter of your life, you’re confined to a vessel that slowly destroys your body.
Is it any wonder that children and teenagers can’t touch their own toes? Complain of back pain? And as adults become debilitated? Over 80% of the world is in this position.
Yet I’ve seen — and even myself have experienced — a complete 180 shift. And the ability to do, and move, and become stronger than ever before.
I’ve seen it in children AND adults!
Now the second factor that needs to be addressed in addition to sitting is your mindset.
So many people overlook this. But this is actually the first thing that should be addressed, because this truly is the foundation of our life. And it’s the first thing that I address in my webinar too, which you can watch here: www.strengthmovesacademy.com/watch
The number one problem that most people have is FEAR. And it’s antithesis, the instruction to “fear not,” is the number one most repeated command in the Bible. Very interesting indeed.
What casts out all fear? Love. And the 2nd greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself.
But how do most people even love themselves? How do you care for your own body, of which you only get one?
In the science of neuroplasticity, we see that physical action actually changes the brain. Thus, if a person spends 20 YEARS of their life SITTING (and 26 years laying in sleep), what kind of brain do you think a person will have?
I’d argue that most people who spend their lives that way will have sculpted a “mindset of sitting,” i.e. of inaction, of indecision, even of apathy.
Then in the reciprocal relationship of the mind and body, they become even more hardened in that state. They become hardwired for sitting. They become accustomed to that practice. And that practice makes perfect.
On the other hand, when I’ve travelled to places that might have “less” by certain standards, they are actually stronger, more vibrant, and more energetic. They know their bodies better, and have a better kinesthetic awareness to run, jump, and learn new skills faster.
So the opposite is possible, but retraining is necessary.
Now the third factor in addition to sitting and mindset that’s necessary to consider is physical training.
And that INCLUDES: understanding your anatomy, your biomechanics, and the progressions necessary to achieve your maximum potential with your unique body type, structure, and build.
The crucial elements of the anatomy are not just limited to one muscle.
In fact, you must understand all of the muscles of the entirety of the core that supports your spine.
Now before we even go into those, I want you to imagine something.
Imagine a bodybuilder, every striation of muscle sculpted like polished marble upon the frame of the skeleton. Imagine well defined traps, the 3 heads of the deltoid shoulder muscle, the triceps, pecs, and biceps of the arms and chest. Imagine the quads, hamstrings, and calves of explosively powerful legs.
Now imagine that their entire midsection is removed and all you see is their spine.
This is how the majority of the population walks around.
If you can’t do a human flag, press handstand, or other basic bodyweight movements like these, chances are you’re in this position too.
Here’s what’s going on. Starting from the legs and working our way up, there’s a whole complex of muscles that ties into the core and support the spine. But because of a lack of understanding in physical training and qualified personal trainers and coaches, the core is never properly trained and the problem persists.
So beginning with the legs, the iliacus and the psoas, the muscles responsible for lifting the femurs up towards the torso, are usually shortened and atrophied. When people come in and do level 1 training for these muscles, it’s usually very painful. But after some time, great progress and health benefits, as well as athletic performance, are achieved.
Next, the transversus abdominis, the muscle that wraps around the core like seran wrap, is likewise atrophied. And this is the muscle responsible for compression and squeezing the spine to support it for ALL movement, from walking, to running, to front levers, to pressing up to a handstand, to landing back flips. But it’s invisible. It isn’t the 6 pack and so people don’t care about it. But without it, your core, and your spine, are just mush.
Third is the rectus abdominis, otherwise known as the 6 pack. Everyone has one. If you get shredded enough, you’ll see it. But that doesn’t mean you have a core or that it’s strong. It just means you’ve cut enough calories to expose it. That’s it. But these are responsible for tucking and piking into back flips and doing 1 arm hanging v ups with toes to bar. If you don’t properly build these up, it won’t matter how sexy they look, you still won’t be able to do the skills you want, and your core, and thus your spine, will be compromised.
The obliques are next, and these are extremely important for protecting the spine and generating twisting and lateral bending movements, things that completely destroy people’s backs. They are some of the most important muscles of the core. I’m sure you’ve heard stories of the guy or gal (maybe you were this guy or gal) going out to the field for the church softball game or to play frisbee tag or something and blowing out his or her back. That’s a result of weakness in the transversus abdominis and obliques, an improper lifestyle, and the consequences related thereto.
Finally, there’s the posterior core muscles, the longissimus thoracis, the muscles that run up and down the sides of the spine. These are responsible for helping to support the spine in lateral flexion like the human flag, amongst many other important elements of strength and mobility. If these, in conjunction with the hamstrings, are tight, you won’t be able to touch your toes, and worse yet, the tighter they are, the more they’ll pull the vertebrae down on top of each other, compressing them rather than supporting them.
So how do you fix all of this?
How do you solve this for good?
To solve this, it isn’t just about 1. avoiding sitting, or 2. meditating, or 3. training harder and doing more situps.
We all SHOULD be able to sit. We should make our minds sharper. And we should be able to do human flags, press to handstand, 1 arm hanging v ups, and back flips.
The solution SITS on two sides of the therapeutic coin: passive and active.
Passive treatments will include hands-on and medicinal therapies.
But most miss what’s even more important: the active treatments YOU SHOULD BE DOING.
Active treatments will include mindset, understanding your anatomy and biomechanics, alternatives to sitting, but not just that.
I don’t care how much a person can deadlift, run long distance, cycle, bench press, squat, or how many hours they can do yoga in a 110 degrees.
Active training includes strengthening your CORE to the point of absolute POWER: the ability to defy gravity and suspend your body in the air from all angles like the human flag, front lever, back lever, and handstands in any position.
That is true “working out.” True “fitness.”
This is active training: building your body’s — and mind’s — maximum potential, so that human flags, levers, and handstands are truly basic to you and help you experience a vibrant life of longevity and success.
If that sounds like something you want to work towards, click this link, fill out the quick form, and we can talk about building a gameplan for moving forward: www.strengthmovesacademy.com/apply
If you’re local in Alaska, and likewise want to put a blueprint together for how to achieve this, then click this link, fill out the form, and come into the Academy for a free session: www.pacificrimathletics.com/apply
To your success, health, and strength!