I watched a young girl perform a back flip on TV this morning. The local news station was covering a local competitive Cheer Squad and the girls were performing tricks behind the reporter and coaches as they talked. This back flipping young girl was being aided by a coach who lifted her into a deeper spinal extension before allowing her to take her legs over to complete the flip. All I saw was a small child have an insane amount of pressure be placed into her low back with out any support of the spine by the abdominals.

We live in a country where more than 31 million people suffer from back pain and yet, all we seem to be able to do, is ask questions. How does this happen to us? What have I done in the last few weeks to cause back pain? Is it really that serious? Doesn’t everyone suffer from back pain?

The solution to this mystery may lie in our children. If we allow our children to perform incredibly complex movement patterns without teaching them how to properly support and maintain their spine, its no wonder we don’t all have debilitating back pain. Do you think it’s just the gymnasts who end up in pain? Because it’s not. Look at any high school athlete, and I would be confident to say they have experienced back pain at least once in their career. Look at any person who spends 6+ hours sitting each day, which includes all students in our country, and I would once again bet money that all of them have experienced back pain at least once in their life.

Our posture is a huge problem – but our lack of awareness of what the heck that soft and gushy stuff around our midline is supposed to be doing is problematic as well. Did you know that we all have abdominals? Regardless if you have used them in the last century or not, there are muscles lying under all the fluffy insulation around your belly that have been created to support your spine. And then evolution threw us an ironic twist – they work the most efficiently when you are in a good position. If you spend all day slumped over and then go to the gym and do 100 crunches – guess what? You will still be slumped over because you are only working the front side of your core. It almost akin to tightening down and shortening just one side of a soft tissue canister (the core) and leaving the rest to fend for it’s self.

You want to perform complex movement patterns like getting out of the car without injury? It is complex, think about it – you need spinal rotation, while moving your lower body at least 90˚ to get your feet out of the car, and then you must rely on proprioception to be sure that your feet are in fact in a good position so that when you put your body weight on them to stand up, your knees are also in a good loading position. If you are anything like me, you are thinking what you will do once you get inside the house, not what you are doing right at that moment.

So train your body to work efficiently in a good postural position. And then live in that good postural position always. Slumping is not just lazy, but it is detrimental to the health of your spine and your guts (you wouldn’t like to be squished all day, now would you?).

The Yoga Tune Up® Revolved Abdominal pose is a great exercise to begin to talk to the spinal stabilizers and abdominal muscles. So try it out – and take the task of supporting your spine seriously. Its not like it houses your brain, or anything ;)