We have seen it countless times… reaching into the trunk to grab a heavy grocery bags, pushing the couch, flipping the mattress, bending over to grab something off the floor and EEEEK, your back gives out. Cancel all appointments for the next week and renew your Netflix subscription because you’re are about to rekindle your relationship with your recliner and heating pad.
Integrating frontal loading into your training regimen is critical if you want to reduce your chance of injury with these types of daily activities. When asked, “what muscles should I be training to reduce my risk of injury,” I often reply perhaps the approach is wrong. By training muscles, say your core, biceps, chest, etc. you might see great gains in the amount of weight you can lift or muscle definition, but will this translate to real world applications? Perhaps only minimally. By no means should you throw-out conventional training techniques, but by training movement patterns once or twice a week, you can begin translating all the hard work you do in the gym to your life outside the sweat box.
When training movement patterns, one key area to focus on is frontal loading. Much like picking up that heavy bag of dog food of the shelf or performing a front squat, frontal loading is a concept that integrates your shoulders, core, and glute strength to support your spine when lifting a heavy weight in front of you. Done improperly, it can be easy to lean back hang in your lumbar spine, causing unwanted stress to your spinal column. Rather, it is important to ensure you maintain a neutral pelvic tuck, rib cage pulled in, and shoulders locked down and back when carrying a frontal load.
While laying on your back in table-top position, ensure your hips are tucked so that your low back is firmly planted on the ground. Press firmly into your knees, while your knees push back into your hands. Place only enough pressure to feel your rib cage pull down and inward, building your core strength.
If you can maintain good posture in a v-sit position, proceed here. If not, you may need to stretch your hip flexors. From the v-sit position, ensure your chest remains upright and that you are not sinking into your mid to low back, you can use a small ball to help support this posture if need be. As you exhale, reach overhead while pinning your rib cage down toward your hips. To increase intensity, you may lean back further at the hips or add weight to your overhead reach.
To progress further, try a farmers carry but holding a dumbbell or kettlebell around forehead height. Before lifting the weight up, ensure your hips are tucked, core is active, your shoulders are locked down and back, and that you aren’t leaning back loading your lumbar spine. Pick a distance, and walk while holding the weight are forehead height, and extending arms forward. You can also try squatting in this position.