This common command or cue that is given out more than its not.
It won’t help your core or your hips!
The idea behind it is to ‘protect’ ones back from stress usually while performing some sort of leg movement while laying on your back. Before we move further on this one… stand up and go through the motion of flattening your back in an upright position? What does this look like, feel like and ask yourself why would I want to educate my body to be in this position?
The position that you should be taught to keep is neutral spine, which is where your pubic bone and the two boney parts of your pelvis at the front (ASIS) of the pelvis are in the same plane. This is where you have a natural curve in your lower back and is the ideal position to create proper stability in your core which then leads to proper mechanics in your lower limbs.
Some of the most common problems that arise as a result of this commonly taught practice are as follows:
Pelvic tilting from the wrong place
Most people do not pelvic tilt properly – so trying to correct your spine mechanics from the pelvis can create the opposite effect of what you are looking to do to ‘protect your back’. Pelvic tilting is the process of moving your pelvis, which will eventually move your spine as a result.
What I tend to see is people using their spines to move their pelvis. This mistake causes stress in your spine and surrounding areas along with a misguided core firing as a result.
Creates neck and shoulder tension
Flattening your back may come from moving through your rib cage instead of the pelvis which results in extra stress in your neck, shoulders and once again disconnects you from your core.
This will also develop extra tension in the front of your hips and cause a greater disconnect in functional hip mechanics and stability.
This does not make your core stronger
Neutral spine is the ‘HUB’ or centre of where all movement happens. This is what you want to be able to keep during any movement, otherwise your efforts are wasted in the overall picture.
Many of us will struggle through these types of exercises and feel nothing but stress in our system. It might get a little easier over time but our alignment is never ideal, we just learn to get better at cheating!
If the position we obtain during exercise is correct, we will maintain the strength gains even after we rest.
If you take a few months off exercise and then go back, do you feel like you are starting back at square one? If Yes, this means you did not develop stability. Seek help on whether you first know how to pelvic tilt properly and second if you know how and where neutral spine is.
Getting this correct is vital to developing any sort of stability and the ability to move functionally!