If you’re finding that your low back tends to arch when you follow certain movement patterns, one muscle that we need to pay attention to is the erector spinae.
By LeighAnn Clark
This muscle runs the length of your back, from the top of the neck, down to the pelvis and runs just along the spine. In movements such as squats or overhead presses, some people tend to experience an arching in their low back that is very difficult for them to get rid of, whether discovered by the individual or a coach. If the erector spinae is tight, it can cause the back to arch to compensate for the movement and can make it very difficult to keep the hips tucked, the abs engaged, and the back safe.
One way we can relieve some of this tightness is with good old-fashioned SMR; self-myofascial release. We can use various implements to roll the muscles in the back. A standard foam roller is always an option, but one implement in particular, known as the peanut, is an even better option. The peanut is ideally two lacrosse balls taped together, forming what looks like a peanut. This can be done with two softballs as well, either will still be effective, but just like with any other SMR technique, the smaller and denser the object, the more release you will experience. The effectiveness of the peanut comes from its ability to really pinpoint the muscle and allow you to get deeper. You’ll notice that there is a hollow spot between the two lacrosse balls where you can comfortably situate your spine without putting any pressure on it. The two balls will sit directly on the erector spinae and allow you to focus all of your energy on these muscles.
The movement should be small. After situating yourself on top of the peanut, and cross your arms over your chest to apply more pressure. From there, flex and extend the back over the peanut. You can move side to side as well to focus all of the pressure on one side and then the other. Then move to another spot, slowly moving up and down the spine to pinpoint the most painful spots because these are the spots that you want to focus on. You can work your way down as far as necessary, avoiding the low back. You can move up toward the shoulders, and even change up the movement pattern. You can even move the arms up and down overhead; tap the back of your hands on the ground overhead, put your palms on the ground by your hips and keep “swimming” up and down. Lifting the hips will add even more pressure to the muscles because even more of your bodyweight will be pressing into the peanut. Just make sure you are prepared for it.
Find the movement patterns that work for you, and check out the video for more info!