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Lumbar Mobility: How to perform a Lumbar Full Circle

mobility pain recovery Jul 20, 2018

Building up to a full lumbar circle is an excellent injury proofing strategy and is critical for athletes performing at any level!

The previous drills covered are a great way to lead up to a full lumbar circle:

The target for the Lumbar Full Circle are the segments of the lumbar spine from L-1 to L-5 (low back).  

Understanding how to move your lumbar spine (low back) independently of your thoracic spine and your pelvis is essential for the highest quality movement, injury prevention, and to avoid low back pain! If performed well it can also provide great pain relief. 

We have a saying that you should always follow when retraining your brain how to move joints that have pain - never move into pain. This means you can actually perform the drill as long as you are not moving into pain. Start with pain free ranges of motion and slowly train yourself into greater ranges of motion over time.  

Here's how you perform the drill:

  • Start in neutral stance, slight bend in knees with tall lengthened spine
  • Create a posterior pelvic tilt for the front part of the circle
  • Leading from the crown of your head, move into a side bend position, pulling into end range of motion of lateral flexion
  • Keep arms and head relaxed
  • When you reach end range of motion, maintain the end range as you circle around the front into forward flexion and then keep moving into the opposite side bend (lateral flexion), continuing all the way through back extension and to the opposite side. 
  • While you are moving through the back part of the circle, the pelvis will counter-balance the weight by moving into a slight anterior pelvic tilt (happens naturally, do not add more anterior tilt) 
  • Stack yourself back up to the start

Common mistakes:

  • Driving the movement with the head, neck, or thoracic spine rather than the low back
  • Missing lateral flexion and instead tilting into some flexion
  • Compressing the whole spine as they move through the back circle - rather than maintaining a tall lengthened spine through the crown of the head
  • Not circling into a full side bend before stacking back up
  • Bending forward at the hips rather than from the low back (think about a fence being at the height of your belly button and hinging over the fence from the belly button) 
  • Shift the pelvis towards the side or forward rather than side bending
  • Building up excessive tension in upper back and shoulders
  • Breath holding

Lumbar mobility will never go out of style. Whether you spend a lot of time sitting or are an elite athlete, knowing how to move your lumbar spine independent from your pelvis and thoracic spine will pay great dividends. 

(Education Credit: this drill is part of a series of mobility drills taught by Z-Health Performance Solutions - a leading educational company in neuro-centric training for pain and performance) 

 

About the Author: 

Taylor Kruse, recently featured in Men's Health, is dedicated to empowering you with the truth and tools for improved health and performance.

His inspiration stems from more than 10 years of education and coaching through systems like Zhealth Performance, The Burdenko Method, and various movement practices.

In 2013, he co-founded KRUSE ELITE with girlfriend, Alisha Hale. Both are dedicated to inspiring people, coaches, and trainers into their best health and performance.

GETTING STARTED WITH BRAIN-BASED TRAINING:

Practice FIVE Neuro-Performance Drills

Learn why respiration, vision, vestibular, and complex movement integrations are essential tools for every coach!

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GETTING STARTED WITH BRAIN-BASED TRAINING:

Practice FIVE Neuro-Performance Drills

Learn why respiration, vision, vestibular, and complex movement integrations are essential tools for every coach!