Recently, the following question was presented to me by a client regarding implementation of the “tuck” position outside of exercise sessions. As a topic that has needed addressing, no time like the present.
Q. Lani, today I’m having a soreness in my lower back that I usually don’t have. I’ve been trying to really connect with “curling my core and keeping butt” tucked during the day….not just when I exercise. I just started noticing this today….Today while doing my workout, on the curl up with hands on knees it really hurt. Any thoughts? Thanks a bunch.
My reply: If I understand you correctly, the “curling the core” is a reference to the pulling of the front of the torso in, while pressing the low and middle part of the back in the direction of the space behind you. And the tuck means the posterior tilt of the pelvis that comes with a tuck of the tail.
In my practice, I teach that while these positions and exercises may be important for correcting muscle imbalance, these are exercises not to be duplicated with intensity all day long. You should NOT be taking the deep tuck into all walking and standing movements. Rather, pull in the abdominal wall (as in 7 Seconds to a Flat Belly) which facilitates muscle balance through the waist, hip, and low back area, and provides a slight corrective direction to the tilt of the pelvis, as needed, into neutral spine. It stabilizes the area and activates many of the core muscles in a functional, fluid manner.
Likewise, the pressing to flat the back, meant to counter an exaggerated curve in the back, should not be fought for all day long. We have a natural curve in the lumbar area of the back (see image, left) and we should not be maneuvering to get rid of it. The natural curves in the spine, the basic elements of neutral spine, are designed to effectively cushion and distribute impact as well as facilitate functional movement. By no means should we be trying to eradicate them with excessive exercise.
Too much prolonged tuck and pressing the low back place a stress on the lumbar area and overwork the muscles at the top of the hip in back. This resulted in the soreness that you are experiencing. Physical therapy is for building strength and countering imbalances, but not always to be sustained in intensity all day long.
I know that there are those who will disagree with me on this one, and who suggest that you should be implementing this movement intensely all day long. I say no, because of just what happened to you.
Do the work during workouts. Combine corrective posture with strengthening the muscles through the middle and upper back, hips, abdominals and backs of the hips and legs. Let it train you to walk erect , with stronger back muscles, stronger glutes and abs, and shoulders rolled back into open chest position like a dancer. Then let the awareness of functional posture and strength of muscles gained during workouts carry you forward into beautiful movement.
You want to dance and flow through life, for heaven’s sake -not be crimped and tucked!
Go to Part 2 of 5: More Pelvic Tilt Talk: Anterior Pelvic Tilt