Archives for posts with tag: stability

In the first part of this post, I talk about 7 common reasons why people get back pain.  In this post, I’m going to get a little more in depth for solutions to these problems.  Remember they come in two categories: exercise habits and movement dysfunction. Let’s talk good exercise habits.

How to build a good warm up in 3 easy steps

Step 1: Become best friends with your foam roller. In fact, make it your lover. Figure our where it hurts the most and spend most of your time there.

Step 2: Dynamic Stretch. Although everyone should be assessed to figure out their specific needs, MOST people are tight in the same places. Hamstrings, upper back, shoulders and hips. 4 Stretches Most People Can Benefit From

Step 3: Activate. Do this where you need stability, usually core and glutes. Things like glute bridges, bird dogs, and wall slides will all do the trick. Find examples of good warm ups here, here, and here.

Learn how to hip hinge

Fix your form

There’s no way I can possible cover good form in one paragraph. The good news is there are people who have covered this already. My go-to articles for the big 3 are written by a pretty smart guy named Mike Robertson. He covers in great detail the squat, deadlift,  and bench. I suggest you read up if you’re serious about preventing back pain, or any kind of pain for that matter.

The truth is, your exercise habits wont make much of a difference until you fix your movement dysfunction; the two go hand in hand.

How to belly breath- Enter the diaphragm

Gain mobility where you need it

Most people I train are just your average joe’s. As much as I can dream about it… I’m not training athletes with crazy mobility or congenital laxity. Although it’s very important to get evaluated, I can tell you most people are tight in the same areas: hips, shoulders, and t-spine.

If you want to get more in depth mobility drills, I highly suggest checking out Kelly Starrett is a very smart guy who has hundreds of videos with in-depth mobility drills. You pretty much can’t put anything in his search bar that will go unanswered.  As much as he tries to dumb it down, I find myself having to watch some of his videos 2 or 3 times to completely understand it. So if you don’t understand some of his lingo, don’t worry about it; just try to emulate as best you can.  However for a quick reference, these are some mobility favorites:

Scapular Wall Slides

Thoracic Spine Extension on Foam Roller

Hip Mobility Combo

Gain some core stability

Core stability is a must… For everybody…. No exceptions! If you don’t have it, you need it; and if you have it, you need to keep it!

The basics never go out of style with core training. In my opinion, the plank and any of it’s variations is king, and form is VITAL.

Here are some other great core stability drills:

Banded Bird dog

Notice how her core does not change at all as she moves, and her low back does not cave as she lifts her limbs.

Half Kneeling Chop

Improve your posture

This starts with how you’re sitting right now. Stop slouching!

Obviously, everyone’s posture is a little bit different, but let’s go over some common deviations:

1. Lordosis

Lot’s of anterior core work is needed to help correct this. This is where your planks, front squats, and reverse crunches come in. Some mild low back stretches will help too; something like child’s pose.

2) Kyphosis

A lot of people I see have some degree of a kyphotic curve. It’s very important to go some soft tissue work before strength training; all those muscles in the upper back become tight and weak. A foam roller is great but a tennis or lacrosse ball is better.

Once you loosen up those muscles, it’s very important to get them slightly tighter and stronger (note: ‘tight muscles’ are not always a bad thing). Rowing and pull ups are the go-to’s here. There are so many variations of rows, all you have to do is pick your favorite!


You don’t have to conquer all these points at one time, but that being said, I think they’re all equally important and should all be addressed.

All I can say is I hope that you learned something! If I learned anything, it’s to not film videos on days I wake up at 4:30. Woof.



Whether it be acute or chronic, chances are that you’ve experienced back pain at some point in your adult life . In my opinion it’s one of the poopiest things of all time ’cause it affects just about everything you do.

Too many people either push through the pain and cause more damage, keep their resistance too light, or avoid important exercises completely because of back pain.

There are literally probably a million different causes of back pain, and to be honest, us practitioners (PT’s and docs included) sometimes will never to be able to point out exactly what it is from one person to the next. But we have some pretty good educated guesses. In my opinion, they can be broken down into two categories: personal exercise habits and movement dysfunction. In part 1 of this post, I’ll give a general overview of what I think is most important; in part 2, I’ll discuss what to do about it. Let’s talk about habits first.

You don’t do a proper warm up

When I was in college, I used to walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes as a ‘warm up’ before I’d go embarrass all the boys in the weight room (joke). Little did I know, that doesn’t really cut it. We recently started to coin a phrase here at Fitcorp: RDA. This stands for Rolling or Release, Dynamic stretch, and Activation. There are a few different methods to warming up, but we’ve found this outline to be the most successful in preventing injuries. You release where you’re tight, reinforce with dynamic stretches, and active the muscles that need help turning on. An example for the hips/glutes would be 1) release hip flexors with lax ball or foam roller, 2) 3D hip flexor stretch or spiderman stretch, 3) Supine hip bridges for glute activation. If you’re not properly warmed up, the muscles that should be working aren’t ready, and your back can take the fall.

You flex at the spine instead of hinging at the hips

This is a tough concept to understand if you lift without a trainer or a buddy. Here’s a pictorial representation

This is a particularly common mistake when deadlifting or rowing. The reality is, any exercise you do to strengthen your legs (ie squats and deadlifts) is also going to strengthen your back. However, your glutes and hamstrings are very strong and when you load them correctly, they should do most of the work. I will go over some drills to learn how to hip hinge in part 2.

For whatever reason, your form is just poopy

Alright I need to be a little harsh for a second.

It never ceases to amaze me some of the asinine things I see people doing in the gym. I understand that most people are just under or ill-informed when it comes to this…

But like…. Really!? Do you really think your floor-hump-of-a-pushup is helping you look sexy??? ‘Cause it’s not. In fact, it looks like you’re humping the floor.

My favorite comment: “How would one even get that idea?”

My sentiments exactly.

Okay now that I got that off my chest, I understand that there are many issues why form can slack, some of which I’ll cover in more detail below. You might be using too much weight, you might be missing some mobility or stability, or you simply just might not know what proper form should look like. Whatever it is, I recommend figuring it out to avoid issues down the road.

Let’s look a little deeper into the second category: movement dysfunction.

You have dysfunctional breathing patterns.

I’ve written a little bit about this before, and it’s important to reiterate. As a result of chronic stress and inactivity, breathing patterns shift from belly breathing to chest breathing. This can cause all sorts of issues, one of them including back pain. Quick self assessment: Take a deep breath. Did your chest and shoulders go up immediately? Then chances are you’re breathing incorrectly. Part 2 will entail some breathing drills so you can reconnect with that old flame we like to call our diaphragm.

She’s a beauty eh?

You’re lacking some mobility

The two most common culprits are hips and shoulders. Since these two joints have the most range of motion, by the same token they’re the most complicated and prone to dysfunction. The good news about mobility is that it’s usually just a matter of knowing what you need to work on, and doing it consistently.

You’re lacking some stability

If I were to pick one area of the body that’s most important to be stable, it’s your core. I know… shocker.

A lack of stability can often be the real issue in a lot of movement dysfunction, but it often will disguise itself as a lack of mobility! Tricky, that human body… very tricky. The best example is a squat. In the next post I’ll have a video for you to prove my point… But for now just take my word for it.

Shoulders, hips and extremities also require stability, but I’d argue starting with your core will give you the most bang for your buck.

Your posture is less than ideal

I’d be hard pressed to find someone with perfect posture. That’s because I think we are innately imbalanced. By god giving us a dominant hand/brain/whatever, we are automatically uneven. So for me to say that everyone needs to have perfect posture and no asymmetries to be found is completely ignorant.  However, if your walking around with a pigeon towed-pronated-bow legged-hyperextended-lordotic-kyphotic posture… that could cause some problems.

I’m talking to you smeagol

 Fortunately, there are a lot of posture problems that exercise and good habits can fix. Stay tuned for the best exercises to improve posture.


So there are the 7 most important factors of back pain. Of course, they’re all intertwined issues and if you have one, you probably have a couple. The good news is it’s fixable! Call me old-school, but I like to fix things organically. Proper exercise is solution #1 to back pain, before drugs, injections, ultra sounds, or surgery.

Part 2 coming soon!


Happy Monday everyone!

I hope everyone had a relaxing and restful weekend. Summer is coming to an end in Boston, and I woke up with a temperature of 60 degrees this morning. I must admit, I think I am ready for fall. Although summer is my favorite season, the days of 90 degrees and 104% humidity have been plentiful this year and I’m kind of over it.

Weather men don’t lie…

I’m ready for hiking season!

Anyway, here is your new WUOTW. Enjoy!

A.  Glute Bridges with Overhead Reach- Glute and core activation, shoulder mobility.

This is a more dynamic version of the standard glute bridge. Get into normal bridge postion and clasp your hands with arms straight over head (toward ceiling). As you bridge your hips up, reach arms overhead to touch the floor. Bring hips down and arms back up. If you don’t yet have the shoulder mobility to touch the floor, grab the ends of a small towel instead of clasping your hands together.

B. Supine heel taps- Anterior core activator, anterior pelvic tilt corrective


Lay supine in table top position- make sure your hips and knees are 90 degrees and your low back is pushed into the floor; your abs should be turned on before you even start moving. Keeping your knees bent, lower 1 heel at a time, alternating feet.

C. Plank with Toe Taps- Core activator, shoulder stability, rotary stability

Get into plank position. In the picture shown above, her neck is slighly hyperextended; make sure you’re looking straight down without letting your head fall forward. Take your right toe and tap it out to the right side. Bring it back and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating legs.

D. 1/2 Kneel-To-Stand with Dowel


When you’re in the start position, make sure your head, upper back, and butt are in contact with the dowel. Focus on keeping your torso tall and driving through your front heel to stand up.

E. Walking Pigeon- Single leg stability, hip external rotation mobility

Get your balance on 1 leg and grab the outer foot of the opposite leg so that your calf is perpendicular to your body. Alternate legs and take a step between each grab.

Go get ’em!


Happy Monday everyone!

First and foremost I apologize for not posting last week. I’m in the middle of moving all of my room mates into our new apartment, and the last two weeks have been chaos to say the least! Things are finally settling in and we’ve gotten enough toilet paper to last the year 😀

Anyway, I figured it would be cool to have a weekly feature of something everyone could incorporate into their gym routine. What’s better than  a weekly warmup?

If you’re not doing a warmup before lifting, you’re doing yourself a disservice. And I’m not talkin’ about a 5 minute walk on the treadmill. I’m sure you’ve heard the benefits of warming up before, but just to remind you:

a. preps your body for the more compound, nervous-system-taxing movements you’re about to do

b. increases body tempurature and blood flow

c. preps joints with mobility and range of motion

d. releases soft tissue constraints, ‘lubricates’ and mobilizes soft tissue

e. activates correct muscles

f. helps to prevent injury!

For my first edition of WUOTW I’m going to give you my go-to warm up routine.  It’s most likely stuff you’ve seen before, and maybe some new ones. This is my most basic form of warmup. I will give you progressions in upcoming weeks. In the future, I will have videos for each warm up. However, today will just be photos.  Here’s what were workin’ with:

A. T-spine twist- thoracic mobility, shoulder mobility, pec stretch, posture enforcer

B. Glute Bridges- Activates core and glutes

C. Birddog- activates core, glutes, and stabilizers. Posture enforcer and shoulder stabilizer

D. 1/2 kneeling hip flexor stretch- hip mobilization, hip flexor stretch

E. Inchworms- whole posterior back line flexibility, core activation

F. Spidermans- hip mobilization, t-spine mobilization, core activation, hip flexor activation, hamstring stretch

In my opinion, one characteristic of a good warm up is that it works from the ground up. Start with the simplest activations/stretches and work into more dynamic and compound movement. Of course, this isn’t always the case; but it’s a good rule of thumb. A warm up doesn’t have to take longer than 5-10 minutes but will do you a world of good for your workout.

It’s Monday! Go get ’em.


So I survived my first 3 day perform better summit. For those of you that don’t know what that is, its a gigantic fitness and human performance conference held at the Providence convention center. All the ‘big wigs’ in the personal training world come give lectures and hands-on practicals.

Each hour of each day, we had 4 options to choose from. The topics ranged from the business side of personal training, to proper squat mechanics, to adherence and making movement fun. Brain overload to say the least. By Sunday afternoon, my brain felt similar to scramble eggs.

Dee ta Dee

1 of my lecturers suggested writing 3 things you learned each day, and at the end of the weekend to pick 3 of the 9 things to actually start using this week. So, if you’re interested, here they are!

1. Kelly Starret – Torque Matters

Kelly is a PT and owner of Crossfit San fransisco. His information wasnt necessarily new to me, but he just reminded me of how important these things really are. We mostly talked about stability in the trunk, and using torque in the hip and shoulder joints.
The first thing that hit home was how important head position is. When we lose proper head position, we lose about 20% of our strength.  Think about that. A common error when people deadlift is looking at yourself in the mirror and hyperextending your neck. You could improve your pull 20% just by keeping your neck and head in proper alignment! Again, not neccessarily news to me, but as a coach I need to sound like a broken record reminding people not to check themselves out when they deadlift.

Now if he stopped checking out his man thighs he could actually use weight! The madness!

So what can you take from this? 

Keep your head in line! It’s as simple as that. This includes everything from deadlifting, to squatting, to pullups. Your neck and body will thank you.

2. Fraser Quelch- Changing the Game

This lecture was more of a broad topic relating to obesity. We like to think that our jobs as trainers and coaches affect a lot of people. But the reality is that we don’t. Less than 1% of people in the US go to the gym 3 or more times per week. Now if you’re reading this blog, you’re probably in that 1%, and you probably find that shocking or even hard to believe. But it’s true, so what can we do?

Quelch discussed the idea of bringing “play” back into the lives of US adults. We’ve started to get the idea with things like small group training, bootcamps, Zumba classes, etc. Shit on Zumba all you want, but the best designed programs are the ones that people adhere to. I would rather have someone Zumba-ing for the rest of their lives over being a couch potato. Zumba all day.

So what can you take from this?

-Find something you enjoy doing. Most of us don’t LOVE strength training (but if you do I’m not mad about it). Make a difference in someone else’s life. If your best friend is chronically inactive, try taking them rock climbing or kayaking the next time you hang out. You never know what they might fall in love with.

-Find some friendly competition. Light a fire under someones ass (or your own for that matter).

-Here’s a thought. This might sound crazy… If you have kids; PLAY WITH THEM! When was the last time you played marco polo in the pool or flashlight tag on a warm summer night. It’s fun peeps, I promise. And your kids won’t forget. Oh and also you don’t need kids to do that stuff. Just sayin’.

3. Lee Burton- Mobility, Stability, and Motor Control

Mobility: The ability to move freely and easily

Stability: State of being stable. Not likely to change or fail

Motor Control: The ability of the neuromuscular system to perform coordinated movements and skilled actions.

Not only do we need all 3 of these components, we need them all in the right places. A theory popularized by Mike Boyle and Gray Cook is the joint-by-joint approach.

So for example, our ankles and hips need to be mobile and our knees need to be stable. Beyond that, we need to know how to use that mobility and stability control our movement. For example, a client of mine is an ex-ballerina. When I screened her deep squat it was perfect; I actually said to myself ‘I can’t wait to get her under the bar.’ But like all my beginners, I started with a goblet squat. The second I gave her any load, her knees were wobbly, and her form went to poop.  You can have all the mobility and stability in the world, but if your body doesn’t know how to use it, it doesn’t matter. 

So what can you take from this?

Well, it honestly takes a trained professional to recognize your motor control errors. But being mobile and stable in the the right places is a great start. i.e. if you have tight hips, your core might be weak, which your body then compensates with a stiff t-spine (which should be mobile, not stiff).


Ankle = mobile


Hips= mobile

Lumbar spine= stable

T-spine= mobile

See a pattern? I will write soon on what to actually do for these, but this post is getting lengthy.. and I’m impressed if you’re even still reading.

In Conclusion

My first perform better summit was a great experience. Learned some new things, met some cool people, and left inspired with some new tools for the tool box. If you’ve read my ‘about me,’ one of my goals for this blog was to share my knowledge and organize my thoughts. The best way to learn something is to teach it!

That’s me! Doin some med ball work.

Learn on hombres. Until next time!