Lumbar Flexion, Good or Bad? (Part 1) – Interview with Mark Comerford

As you all may know, I recently did a Strength Coach Podcast interview discussing Lumbar Flexion. If you haven’t listened to it yet, go here after reading this post and watching the video below.

To sum things up, many well respected coaches are choosing to eliminate all lumbar flexion exercises like reverse crunches, swiss ball sit ups and inchworms. Some coaches are even going as far to bash yoga – claiming its a back killer.

In the Podcast interview, I was the only coach who still had any faith in lumbar flexion exercises. It didn’t come up in the Podcast interview but, I also have no issue with my athletes and clients attending a yoga class either.

I guess that thousands of years of yoga being practiced by hundreds of thousands of folks around the world is not proof enough that yoga is not dangerous. More accurately, it’s no more dangerous than any other physical activity. Folks tear their biceps, picking up objects, working out and playing sports all the time. Are we cutting out all exercises that create elbow flexion?

Further more, many of these very same coaches who recommend against yoga and a few sit ups here an there, still advocate heavy lifting exercises like back squats, deadlifts and Olympic lifting variations.

Now, I love me some heavy lifting. But, lets get real here! Do we really think that there is more injury potential while doing a down dog in yoga over  sqauting with 350lbs + on your back for 5 reps?

Ask any physical therapist which exercise is more likely to cause injury to a otherwise healthy individual, a 5rm back squat or 10 crunches? After they finish laughing at your question, they most certainly will say the heavy back squat.

Or, ask your local PT how many injuries/post surgery patients they have treated who were hurt doing heavy squats, deadlifts or Oly Lifts relative to how many patients they’ve seen with yoga and crunch related injuries? I guarantee the heavy lifting related injuries out-number the flexion related injuries by 10:1 or more.

Put simply, I feel that eliminating all flexion exercises is alittle silly, lacks common sense and ignores reality. The way I look at lumbar flexion is no different than the way I look at elbow flexion or knee flexion or movement at any other joint in the body. It’s just a natural movement that we all have for a reason. The reason is, we need it in life and sport. As long as its part of a balanced program and performed by a healthy, uninjured individual, I think lumbar flexion can and should be trained, refined and strengthened.

But, thats just my opinion. And, as they say – “opinions are like asses, everybody has one”.

That said, just about every PT I speak with seems to have a similar opinion on the matter.

Regardless, the truth of the matter is, I respect everyone in this industry who is doing their research and making decisions based on what they feel is in the best interest of the folks they work with. I respect them, admire them and love to talk shop with them regardless of whether we agree or not.

As my good friend Eric Cressey wrote said to me in a recent email – “if we all agreed, this stuff wouldn’t be any fun”. Eric my brother, how right you are!

Now, with my little rant out of the way, you are in for a real treat!

As you know from the my recent Unstable Base Training post, I recently sat down with world renowned physical therapist and researcher, Mark Comerford, to discuss controversial topics like lumbar flexion exercises.

I feel obligated to tell you that this interview was very impromptu. It all came about while Mark and I were having a few beers and talking shop after a long day of him teaching and me (along w/ 20 or so other students) learning.

After I filled Mark in on a few of the current topics floating around the S&C world, such as the lumbar flexion exercise debate. Mark was happy to lend his very experienced and extremely credentialed views on the matter.

So, enjoy Part 1 or my interview with Mark Comerford on Lumbar Flexion exercises…

I have two more videos coming of Mark and I discussing the spinal discs and how they relate to using / not using lumbar flexion exercises.

Stay tuned because this is some amazing stuff!

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