Peeps what’s the beef? Cameron here from Zest Fitness and today I’m tackling one of the many problems that chef’s in Ireland deal with: back pain! We all either know someone or are someone with a bad back. It’s extremely common and it’s something we rarely question.
It seems like most people get to a certain age and become content with living on painkillersand not being able to bend over.But, let’s talk about context here. Not everyone has the same back issues. I’m referring topeople with bad backs as a result of spending a lot of time sitting or standing all day withbad posture.
Isuffered with crippling back pain for years and fixed it, which changed my life so I’ll tell youhow I did it and you can do the same!My Back Was Mangled & Now I’m Grand! Here’s How
I was always a big lad growing up, hence the nickname Mongo that I sported for a few yearsin school haha My body grew at an alarming rate. This was one the reasons my back becamea problem. I played sports and lifted weights! I was doing too much for someone my age.It started off as tightness in my lower back but as I became a man, it then developed intopain all the time over the course of a few years. Nightmare!It became such a problem that I had to hang up the boots and stop playing rugby at 20 yearsold! This turned into a blessing in disguise. I couldn’t walk fordays after matches and couldbarely get out of bed let alone perform.I also was working in Bars and restaurants at the time which I was on my feet all the timefor! It was the service industry or rugby, so I chose the industry and making a living!
I needed to constantly stretch my lower back and take painkillers to get through shifts atwork. I covered up the symptoms without dealing the problem!The problem being: tight hips, weak core & shitty movement (patterns)! started taking my lifting in the gym a bit more seriously! This was the key to getting out ofthe pain I was in.Instead of getting smashed about the place by large humans for 80 minutes, I spent moretime in the gym and started addressing the back pain.I figured out THE 3 BIG THINGS that fixed my bullshit back problem!
Those 3 things were as follows:
1. Stretch My Hips, Glutes & Hamstrings every day for 5-10 mins!
2. Strengthen My core/abs with planks, hollow holds & side planks!
3. Learn To Squat/Deadlift with no weight and re-learn the movements!
Over the course of a year following retiring from rugby, my back was brand new. I’dimplemented what I mentioned above in a gym program and done it consistently. Theresults were literally life changing, not stiff getting out of bed, not taking painkillers etc.Nowadays, back problems aren’t an issue. I’m competitive in Powerlifting and I haven’t hadissues with the back in years. And anytime it does get stiff again, I go through the samesteps!
The first of the BIG 3 THINGS you need to implement into your life is stretching your hips,hamstrings & glutes so your mangled posture doesn’t transform you into Donald duck or aturtle!
The 3 Life-Changing Stretches
Chef’s time spent in the kitchen causes havoc with their posture which in-turn starts tocause back & neck pain down the line. The back pain stems from having really tight hips,glutes and/or hamstrings. I’ve 3 big bang for your buck stretches that I use with nearly everyclients to open up the lower body and take pressure off their back’s!
1. The Couch Stretch – Hips/Quads
Everyone with a bad back has tight hips. Tight hips happen as a result of sitting for extendedperiods of time and not moving around enough in positions that challenge your flexibility.There is an easy fix for this. it’s called the Couch Stretch and you can do against a wall or offthe couch as the name suggests.
The Couch Stretch was championed by Mobility Master Kelly Starrett(MobilityWOD).Hold for 60 secs each side and repeat on top of the other for 2-3 rounds!. The trick is tokeep the lower back neutral(not over-arched).Breathing is very important here, if you struggle to breathe in and outunder control thenyou’re pushing the stretch too hard, ease off.This movement will free up the hips and quads like nothing else. I’ve had clients try this forthe first time and were feeling like different people after because of the freedom theysuddenly had in their hips.
2. Banded Leg Lowers – Hamstrings
Everyone with posture like a 90 year old granny has tight hamstrings! This causes their arseto tuck underneath the hips and causes the lower back to round and be open to injury!Tight hammers will continue to pull your hips into the abyss over time making your posturelike a teenage mutant ninja turtle without the shell!For this stretch, use a resistance band or towel to wrap around one of your feet. Lie backand find the stretch in your hamstring (back of the leg), then slowly raise the other foot withyour leg straight up in line with the stretched leg! Repeat this for 10reps then swap theband to the other leg! Do 2-3 sets!
3. Pigeon Stretch – Glutes/Groin
Robbing this one from the Yoga world.The idea is to cross your leg in front of you so the knee is 90 degrees. Keep your back legstraight and hips square. Just lean into the stretch and try to feel it in your glutes and insideof your leg ( groin).Hold for 60 secs each side and repeat on top of the other for 2-3 rounds!Try Them – Start Taking Action! Now stretching alone on’t fix your back but it will ease stiffness and pain. You need tostrengthen the area with lifting and mobility work but it’s an excellent start.Big Things Coming Soon For Chefs
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