THE POSTERIOR CHAIN

Posterior Chain “The powerhouse of the human Body”

Let’s have a look at the posterior chain. The posterior chain is the foundation of our body also called “The powerhouse”. All the largest and most powerful muscles are included and these muscles are designed to hold you upright the whole day long, but for most people these muscles stop working because we spend more and more time in a seated position. As we sit the whole day; lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle is a problem of this century. This then goes on to cause a lot of physical problems, but the most common problem comes from the lower back.

Lower Back problems

How many people suffer with lower back pain? And what could be the problem that leads to lower back pain? Most people will give the answer “bad posterior”, however this isn’t exactly true. Instead, it is down to the lifestyle of a lot of people from sitting long hours and having a sedentary lifestyle.

Muscles

The posterior chain includes all the muscles that run from your foot, up through your calves, along the back, through your seat, lower back, along either side of your spine and finishing under your skull.

Posterior Chain Muscles:

  • -Calves
  • -Hamstrings
  • -Glutes
  • -Multifidus
  • -External Obliques
  • -Erector spine muscles
  • -Trapezius
  • -Posterior deltoids

Spinal positions 

These spinal conditions can be the cause of a weak Posterior chain. 

Most common problem

The most common problem is weak glutes and mechanic movement of the hips. A weak glute, will result in the opposite hip dropping during the gait cycle (the period of time that the foot is on the floor) and can cause an increase in lower back pain and hip pain with walking or running. The primary role of the glute is stabilization and extension of the hip, but to many people focus on the muscles of the anterior chain while they train (which includes the abs and quads). Also, the seated position leads us to be quad dominant.

Stretching the lower back will help short term and it will feel temporarily good but it will not solve the problem in the long run. Many people go to yoga, the gym, start to run… But people hunch their shoulders forwards as a result of over-using their upper trapezius muscles during yoga postures, or starting in the gym and doing too much anterior work such as bench press and shoulder press. Running is a good way to start with sport, but to many people run with the hips forward (anterior pelvic tilt) and don’t work with their glutes which then goes on to cause further problems of lower back pain.

The correct firing patterns for Posterior chain

The posterior chain should be used as “one-two-three muscle firing sequence,” which begins by engaging your multifidus, the deep core stabilizer that attaches to your spinal vertebrae. Your glutes contract next and your hamstrings and calf muscles follow. Late-firing glutes might trigger hamstring strains and other injuries.

Daily exercise 

Because of a sedentary lifestyle your glutes need a wake up call. Starting by contracting each butt cheek and holding the contraction for five seconds. Do this about 10 times a day, from any body position. The prone hip extension reinforces correct posterior chain firing sequence. Lie prone, and draw your navel toward your spine. This activates your multifidus. Next, contract your right butt muscle, then lift your straightened right leg a few inches from the floor. Do 10 on each leg.

5 best exercises for posterior chain activation:

-Barbell Hip Thrust

-Deadlift or Trap-Bar Deadlift

-Glute-Ham Raise

-Good Morning or Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

-Pull Through

Correct Technique 

To prevent injuries in the gym you need to start focusing on the technique of each exercise. That’s where it starts, also to avoid any relapse in the future. Our Focus at Soho Fitness Lab is ensuring that you are lifting the appropriate weight and with perfect form every time. The last thing we both want is for you to lift something incorrectly that is too heavy for your ability, leading to further injury.

Stretch

When the glutes are weak, the hamstrings and lumbar erector spinae muscles are placed under greater stress. The main muscles which work to stabilise and extend the hip, stop doing their work and become synergist, which means that the “helper” (synergist) becomes the primary mover. The hip flexors then become overactive, and when this happens, there is marked anterior tilt of the pelvis and a lordotic curve at the lumbar spine.

Imagine a person who tries to stand straight but the seat sticks out, the hip is tilted forward. This can lead to a chronic lower back pain problem. Below on the picture you can see a good posture and the anterior pelvic tilt.

That’s why stretching is a great way to relax the overactive hip flexor and to correct an anterior pelvic tilt and enable greater range of motion in the hips.

Starting position: Go in a lunge position and bring your torso upright. Have one knee directly below your hip and the other leg forward with your knee directly above your ankle. Extend the hips forward and tighten your glutes. The front knee does not extend past your front foot. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times with each leg.

Not too sure on where to start or need some advice? Then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Fitness Lab who will be more than happy to help:  hello@fitnesslab.fit

 

Sources:

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