I Got Your Back: Try this, not that

Wednesday January 28, 2015

Recently, I took a correspondence course on Low Back Disorders.  The text was,  Low Back Disorders: Evidence Based Prevention and Rehabilitation by Stuart Mc Gill.  Upon completing this course, I realized that a few of the popular exercises I have recommended may not be the very best available when it comes to low back injury prevention and rehabilitation.  As the saying goes, “When you know better, you do better.”  Upon learning this new information, I contacted past and current clients, offered alternate recommendations of exercises they may perform, and provided a rationale for the new exercise(s).  Drawing from this evidence-based research, I will recommend a “Try this” (an exercise that’s more effective for sparing the back from injury over time), “Not that” (an exercise that may cause low back problems over time) fitness tip in future posts.

Equipment: Linear Leg Press (Hammer Strength or similar)

Exercise: Linear Leg Press

Try this: Place one leg on the floor while the other leg is placed on the foot plate (see sample video below)


Rationale: This will ensure that the pelvis remains in contact with the back pad at all times

Another preferred exercise option: One leg standing squat


Not that: Place both legs on the foot plate (as commonly performed – see sample video below)


Rationale: According to McGill, placing both legs on the foot plate may cause the pelvis to rotate away from the back rest when the weight is lowered.  This may cause lumbar flexion which can produce herniating disc conditions.  This is also a non-functional exercise except for pushing a weight up a ramp.

By Patrick Service, Personal Trainer