elcome to the first installment of my new series:
Kettlebell Sport Science
Combining Kettlebells, Kettlebell Sport, and Sport Science all into one educational and practical info packet
The first topic I would like to tackle is regarding The Relationship Between Low Back and Hip Extension in the Rack Position.
A brief anatomy overview (and I mean BRIEF):
The hip is a ball and socket joint, and it roughly has about 30 degrees available to it.
The low back, known as the lumbar spine, is composed of 5 vertebrae. The “average” lumbar spine has a lordosis (a backwards curvature). This is its neutral position. Bending forward is called flexion, and bending backwards is called extension. When the lumbar spine goes into extension, the joints in the back, called facet joints, get closer together. This is normal.
Over time, with repetitive and forceful hyperextension (ie: a LOT of extension), the facet joints start to get “angry”. Meaning, they get a little excess “wear and tear”, which may lead to pain, and even in extreme cases may lead to a forward slipping of the vertebrae (called a spondylolisthesis).
The ideal rack position
In a perfect world, the rack position would utilize a position that emphasizes hip extension while minimizing lumbar extension.
Why? Well, you want to be more efficient and protect your back, yes?
Unfortunately, this position is not easily accessible for a number of different reasons. IMO, one of the most common reasons is simply lack of hip extension. Out modern society makes us sit down all day every day. As a result, over time we lose our hip mobility.
Check yourself (before you wreck yourself)
This is my general approach when I’m assessing a patient’s hip extension. In the video below, there are examples of how to improve hip extension mobility.
(if you’re interested in another AMAZING hip mobility exercise, I highly recommend the Hip 90/90. If I had to apply the 80/20 rule to a hip mobility exercise, the Hip 90/90 would be it).
Here’s the video version of episode 001 of Kettlebell Sport Science.